I’m writing this as I sit in the terminal of Melbourne airport (to be uploaded later) after what could only be described as a helluva day. Today’s the day G.I. Gen goes global – as I embark on my 12 – 18 month (or whatever the Universe decides) long period of roaming the globe in search of adventure – a very deliberate push out of my comfort zone. I’m leaving behind everything familiar – career, family, friends, city, to embrace the unknown.
My flight to Sydney left Melbourne early this morning – 7am – the first of what I expect will be many many flights. Despite a tearful goodbye with my family, I flew out feeling calmly excited, optimistic, and just proud of myself really that this long awaited trip was finally happening.
On arriving at Sydney those of us destined for Christchurch (New Zealand), were told our flight had been cancelled, and I then had to stand in a queue for over 2 hours, on an empty stomach, having been up since 3am, waiting to find out what my options were. The best they could offer me once I finally reached the front, was to fly BACK to Melbourne that afternoon and from there to Christchurch in the evening, to arrive close to midnight. Not ideal, but the best they could do.
Long story short, after having my bag lost and then found, my replacement tickets issued, and then re-issued due to a mistake, and missing the first of the replacement flights they wanted me to take due to that mistake, I’m back in Melbourne waiting to leave for NZ on a flight that has – of course! – been delayed. Sigh…
I’ve flatly refused to be daunted by this today. The joy I felt on taking off this morning has been slightly tarnished, but instead of seeing this as a dark omen of worse to come, I’m choosing to see a delicious irony in this happening on the very first day – the part that should have been the easiest. The Universe sure has a wacky sense of humour! 🙂
This trip represents for me, a giant leap of faith firmly out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. And the ‘discomfort’ has happened even sooner than I expected! My Life Coach taught me recently that people have six core needs, and two of these are ‘certainty’ and ‘uncertainty’. Rather than being contradictory, this means that we need a healthy balance of certainty (comfort) and uncertainty (discomfort) to really bring out the best in ourselves. I stumbled across this online recently and just loved it. It certainly sums up my experience over the last year of self-development.
So my question to you is, where is your comfort zone, and how could you challenge yourself to at least dip a toe outside of it? All sorts of amazing things might happen – scrap that, WILL happen, if you do. Like keeping a smile on my face during an incredibly long and challenging day of travel misadventure, for example. For an uptight Virgo with a Type A personality, that’s nothing short of miraculous 😉 In fact my sister sent me an email today and commented about how much I’ve changed. The Gen-of-old would have been raging all day about the injustice of the day turning to shit, and giving attitude to anyone who got in my way.
Reflecting on that further, I recall the central message of Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, the Susan Jeffers book I’ve been raving about for a few months now. Her underlying diagnosis of all fear is that it comes from the idea that we “can’t handle it”, whatever ‘it’ happens to be. We fear things, particularly the unknown, because we are afraid that the consequences will ‘do us in’, somehow – that we won’t be physically or emotionally strong enough to cope. The possible outcomes of not handling it are usually undefinable, but still lurk there as the ultimate basis of fear. As I was struggling through yesterday I was thinking about all the possible outcomes for the days events. No matter what I came up with, the outcome was still “I can handle it”. There was in fact nothing to fear so therefore no reason to be anxious. Frustrated, sure, that the day hadn’t gone at all ‘to plan’, but nothing of importance was going to come of it. I’d get less sleep than I’d anticipated – diddums! It’s far easier to be gracious with that mindset than the alternative.
I’m linking comfort zones and fear because I think they are linked, quite simply. Why do people stay in their comfort zones? Why do we go to such lengths to maintain that zone? I’ll argue it’s usually out of fear that stepping out of our comfort zone is dangerous, and we won’t be able to handle it. I call BS on that. We’re all G.I.s and capable of far more than we expect. And we deserve more too. Comfort zones have their place, but so too does adventure and challenge and magic, so get on it kids!!