Jan 12, 2014

Posted by in Blog, Canada, Expat Life Abroad, New Zealand | 1 Comment

Fear and Opportunities: Why Life Outside My Comfort Zone?

I’m happiest when I live my life outside my comfort zone. I get myself into ridiculous situation, but I usually land on my feet. It’s not always comfortable, but it works for me. It’s taken a long while and a bit of reflection to realise this. I also realise how easy it can be to slip back into that comfort, to quickly become stagnant without even realising it, and I don’t want that. I’ve set myself 52 challenges for 52 weeks, to keep myself on my toes and make sure that I am making a conscious effort in pushing my own boundaries this year.

AJ Hacket Bungy - life outside my comfort zone

Bungy Jumping with Melissa from The Mellyboo Project in 2009

Here’s a little background on how I discovered that I need to live life outside my comfort zone.

Be Scared but Do it Anyway

I used to be scared of heights. Never a paralysing fear, just a slight discomfort. I’d get up high, accidentally look down after repeatedly telling myself not to and go ‘oh shit’ and squeal foolishly. Regardless of that little detail, I’d still put myself in situations where I was at a height, and I had no choice but to deal with it.
abseiling dukes nose - life outside my comfort zone

I’ve jumped out of a perfect good airplane; I’ve jumped off a bridge while tethered to my best friend; I took  a job that required me to do the safety and maintenance of a high ropes course – that involved climbing 40 ft in the air everyday, at least twice a day.  I did that for  TWO summers. I knew that falling wouldn’t kill me, but it was landing that I had a problem wit, but I put that to the back of my mind and did it anyway. And I was better for it.

I am not one to let my fears stop me. Heck, I hate needles and still persevered 3 times trying to donate blood – passing out each and every time! The third time, they kindly told me I’d need to find another good deed. Perhaps one that doesn’t involve a needle or parting with my essential bodily fluids…

donating blood I’m still slightly uncomfortable with heights, and jumping-okay I’ll be honest, it’s still the landing that causes me issues! I have a hard time to jump between rocks with a huge gap. It’s a mental block, and I almost always take the safe route.

Pushing my own boundaries

Metaphorically speaking, I’ve learned to jump, to free-fall, and not be sure where or how I’m going to land. Somewhere along my way, between moving myself to New Zealand to study and then to the other end of the country where I knew absolutely no one to start my first teaching job (at a Catholic school, when I was certainly not Catholic), I learned to take that cliche ‘leap of faith’. I’ve learned to have a plan, and to know what I want, and although I may not have it all figured out as to how I’ll get there, to trust that it will happen.

I’ve always liked to challenge myself and been one to push my comfort zone. Often times, it’s just been such a natural part of my life. When I was 16, I left home for 6 weeks to participate in the Summer Work Student Exchange program in Quebec. I took a basic core French class, but my conversational skills were seriously lacking. What better way to learn than immersing myself into a family and job that only spoke French. I got better quick!

When it came time to choose a university, I set my sights further afield and only applied to schools in Ontario. I was a small-town girl, but I determined to get over my dislike of cities. I learned to navigate the bus system in St. Catharines and the subway in Toronto. Seems silly now, but those were big accomplishments at the time.

It’s not always easy

There’s always the risk that something can go wrong. But that risk exists whether you’re sitting at home, or out venturing off into the world. The lessons come from how you deal with things. I’ve been out of my comfort zone, and gotten myself into all sorts of pickles. I got food poisoning in Thailand and removed from the plane that was about to take me home.

washed passport

Oops. The High Commission was not impressed.

I’ve put my passport through the washing machine, and got a written telling off from the Canadian High Commission (oops). I’ve left applying for my visa until the very last minute on more than one occasion, which caused some stressful fretting. I didn’t change my tax code when I didn’t realise that my salary salary had gone up, and ended up owning a huge tax bill to NZ. None of that was easy, but in the end it was worth and I’m stronger for each and every tough circumstance I’ve overcome. 

As I get older, and more reflective, I’m ready to up my own ante. I know how easy it is to get ‘comfortable’, especially when I’ll be returning to the familiar Far North, an area that I spent 3.5 years building a comfortable life for myself and Thom. I want to challenge that comfort. I was to challenge myself to keep endeavouring to be the best version of myself possible.

Labels and learning

Many travel bloggers work hard, save up, quit their jobs and become nomadic; traveling the world indefinitely. I used to think that my blog had to ‘be’ a certain way, and I’d try to ‘fit it’ to what I thought I was ‘supposed’ to be doing and writing. I’ve realised that what everybody is doing doesn’t work for me. For  me, writing city guides on places I’ve passed through doesn’t fit. I’m more comfortable writing about what I did and my own experiences in a narration style, and so, that is exactly what you’ll find here. Until I decide that a different style suites me better. Knowledge is power, and accepting

dinner with a view - cooking on the road

roughing it in the summer is okay by me

I’m not a typical nomad. I am an expat who seeks tastes of adventure and challenge. After driving across Canada and living out of a truck for several months, I learned a fair few things about myself, about my relationship, and what I want for the future.

I discovered that I thrive on some semblance of routine. I’m not talking about doing the same old mundane thing day in and day out, but I need commitments and a bit of structure to be productive; I’ve learned that is how I best manage my time and get things done. When I have too much time, I faff around, I flutter from task to task, and I don’t have that pressure on myself. I am a Last-Minute-Lucy; if it can be put off, it is. I need to be involved with other and to have some sort of responsibility. I need my own space, where I can cook and experiment with new recipes and  healthy food.   I am dedicating this year to doing more of what makes me happy, more of what I love. 

This blog is a constant reminder that no matter what I do, I can continue to push my own boundaries, to live outside my comfort zone and to make positive changes.

  1. A very inspiring post! You seem to be very brave. I passed out once after getting my blood taken. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again! 🙂

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