When Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone Sucks

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already guessed that this post is about the party/networking event I attended at a bar in Orlando on Friday night.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter (or do and just missed it), let me fill you in:


Why would a 31-year old woman drive 45 minutes from her house in the suburbs to go to a bar downtown by herself?

a) Because the event was being hosted by an online production company with whom our family is putting together a web show.

b) Because this 31-year old woman thinks stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing.

Unfortunately, this 31-year old woman has a habit of forgetting that just because it is beyond your comfort zone does not mean an experience will automatically be enriching and rewarding and awesome.

Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone sucks.

And I’m not just talking about the sick feeling you get in your stomach when you think about doing something scary. I don’t mean the urge to throw up that kicks in just as you step up to the edge of comfort and decide to go ahead and jump.

I mean sometimes, even after you’ve pushed yourself, you learn that the thing you were so afraid of really is just as awful as you thought it would be.

Well, OK, it’s rarely quite as awful as you imagined. I mean, people almost never die of embarrassment. But the self-help fairytale of doing the thing that scares you and discovering that it and you are awesome? That storyline is not guaranteed.

Sometimes you step outside of your comfort zone and find yourself, despite your best efforts to introduce yourself to strangers, sitting alone at a bar, clutching your purse and your Diet Coke, counting down the minutes until you can leave.

Welcome to life, my friends. Sometimes you’ll try and you’ll fail.

The good news is, the miserable forays beyond the walls of familiarity give us a chance to learn something valuable about ourselves: what our weaknesses are.

Oh, I’m sure you think you already know your weaknesses. Maybe, like me, you make sport of beating yourself about the head with them if you feel yourself getting too close to success or pride. But there is more to knowing your weaknesses than solidifying your insecurities.

Knowing and accepting your weaknesses gives you the power to work around them.

That’s the part I tend to forget. I see a weakness and I become determined to push past it. And when that doesn’t work, I push again. And when that doesn’t work, I go to yet another event at a bar by myself, thinking surely this time will be different. I’m all determination and force of will and no strategic thinking or reason.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not the common definition of success. Albert Einstein was talking about insanity when he used those words.

There’s a fine line between insanity and success.


That line, I think, requires accepting your weaknesses and learning how to accommodate them. When we can acknowledge our weaknesses, we can put systems in place to allow us to succeed anyway.

We can elect to make sure we only go to events in bars with a friend, or forgo those particular situations in favor of dinners and conferences or other less loud venues.

The point is, it’s perfectly OK to try something new and decide that it’s still not for you. It’s not a sign that you’re inherently flawed, stupid for trying, or missing some crucial piece that is required for success. You just might need a different plan of attack.

But you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Next time, someone remind me that I have tried that same tactic e-freaking-nough already! And maybe volunteer to be my wing man.

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