Yeah, I said it.
F*** your comfort zone. It does not deserve to exist. Annihilate that mothereffer.
All throughout your life, it’s always been the one thing that stands between who you are, and who you want to become. Every time an opportunity has come up to step out into uncharted territory, to do something that would fulfill your soul, it’s been the invisible hand that squeezes the back of your neck and pulls you back at the very last moment.
The power it holds over us is immense. It can stop us from trying out for something we want. It can make us stand up against the wall at the party instead of shuffling in the middle of a giant circle of people. It can prevent us from telling that stranger in the coffee shop that we want to know their name, and what they’re like. Though it’s invisible, the power it has over us is undeniably real.
But here’s the great thing about having an invisible foe: It’s like the bad guy from The Matrix. He’s all in your head. He does not physically exist in reality. And once you understand that, you can learn how to destroy him.
It’s important to understand that when it comes to overcoming fears, you can choose to live your life in one of two ways:
Either you control them, or they control you.
No matter what fear it is, the willingness to stare it in the face and take action without batting an eye will create a major detour in your life. It will take you off-road; away from the dreaded little cookie-cutter-box-store life that others have tried to squeeze you into, and into the wild and rugged terrain that you’ve always yearned to explore. The rules of the universe begin to bend differently for you, and a radiant and silent power begins building up inside where there was once only a sickening overflow of timidness and regret.
The key: Take baby steps. Achieve small victories.
Make a list of everything that you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve always let fear hold you back from doing. And one by one, starting with the smallest, do them.
Perhaps you’ve wanted to share your views about something edgy, but are terrified of posting it on the internet to be judged and chewed up by the entire world; who will gather outside of your house and yell on megaphones about how incompetent and worthless your opinions are. Your boss will read it and fire you, your significant other will dump you, and your family will give you up for adoption. You will be an ex-communicated wandering leper, scrounging alone through the deserts, looking for a cactus that hasn’t read your blog yet in order to ask it for a drink of water to survive another day.
Scary, isn’t it?
I remember doing my first creative writing several years ago, on a piece of paper that I kept in my wallet. I was terrified to show anyone. It was a mini-inspirational speech that I would read to myself whenever I felt like giving up in calculus III. One night in college, half-delirious from pulling an all-nighter with a friend, I felt comfortable enough to show it to him. And guess what happened?
HE MADE A COPY FOR HIMSELF, SO THAT HE COULD READ IT WHEN HE WANTED TO GIVE UP ON STUDYING TOO.
I was blown away. I showed a few other friends, and they all told me I should be an inspirational writer or speaker. At the time, I shrugged it off, thinking they were just being polite, and went back to studying the dull principles of civil engineering.
Back then, I never believed that one day I’d have the courage to say things online in front of millions of people that most wouldn’t even discuss with someone until they’ve dated for at least six months.
When I was a kid, I was very quiet and shy. I hated speaking on the phone, and would just give people one word answers. Hi. Good. No. Okay. Bye.
Breaking out of the shell is a process. If you’re scared to take even a small step, find an even smaller one. Post something anonymously, so that it’s not even like people are judging you. Practice your speech in front of two friends before you do it for 20.
Every time there’s something I know I probably should do, but I’m afraid of it, I push myself to do it. I still remember the first time I went up to a stage at a conference in front of 300 people — it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It was scarier than when I jumped out of an airplane. But when it was over, I felt like a different person. Another time, I got on stage at a club and danced in front of 1,000 people as part of a hot body contest. The whole time I thought:
Who the hell are you, and what have you done with the quiet little boy who used to live here?
The best part: After I did that, a friend of mine who was out of shape joined the competition — with six pack abs we drew on with a black sharpie marker. AND HE WON. And it was one of the funniest and greatest things ever.
After something like that, the fear knob gets turned down in every other part of life. You think to yourself: If I can jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, if I can dance in front of 1,000 people, if I can move thousands of miles away to a city where I don’t know anyone, after quitting my job without something else lined up — why on earth would I be afraid to write a measly blog post on the internet from behind a computer?