How many times have you imagined the worst possible scenarios for a sceanrio, only to see none of it come true?
I’m guilty of it. Most likely you are too.
Thinking like that is dangerous. It paralyzes us from even trying. The worst possible sceanrio is to not even try at all.
We have that inner voice telling us all the reasons we shouldn’t be doing it. We feel more safe in our comfort zone but not leaving our comfort zone means we will never grow as a person and experience new things.
Sometimes in life you just need to break through the resistance.
I know all too well living within the tiny comfort zone will slowly turn you into a person you don’t recognize anymore. It made me unhappy, stressed out, and bored with the monotony of life.
For myself in a span of two years I felt the fear and did it anyways three times. Did major things completely out of my comfort zone. Not only were all my fears unrealized, I landed safely and changed my life forever.
Moved to Taipei
In 2007 I decided to take a leave from my job to study Chinese overseas in Taipei, Taiwan. I have wanted to do that since I graduated college in 2000. However, living my life how I thought I should and being in a long term relationship prevented me.
The job got miserable and the relationship ended. I had my window of opportunity.
I had been there many times growing up but less when I got into college. I had doubts on whether I should study abroad or not. I had many poor reasons to just stay in my comfortable but boring life.
My fears were being there in the summer (crazy hot), the mosquitos, the classrooms not being cool enough, fitting in, and being homesick. In the end I decided to take a chance and go. I determined I would have been more miserable if I stayed. It was now or never. I needed a new direction in my life.
I planned to stay only three months. I ended up staying eighteen months. So much for not liking it. My fears were unrealized.
Finding Some Friends
By nature I’m an introvert. I’m the type that loves to stay at home most of the time. However I explored Taipei and the surrounding areas every weekend by myself. I loved the beauty of the hiking trails and the feeling of a busy city.
After three months of exploring the city on my own and staying home, I felt the urge to make new friends. I had my classmates but we never spent time outside of class.
I knew one way was find an organized activity.
I saw my opportunity with an ad at school about a kickboxing club that met twice a week. It was for all levels and focused on getting in shape instead of kicking each others’ head in.
Started by a twenty-something former competitive kickboxer from Denmark named Anders. Practices were held outdoors at night at a huge public plaza. I saw pictures on Facebook of practices and weekend gatherings. This was what I wanted. This was my opportunity.
It wasn’t that easy for me.
Fear held me back. I wanted to meet new people but coming into an established group scared me. How would I be accepted? Would I even like these people? What will they think of me?
I put off the idea of going for six long months. I was dating a girl so it delayed my desire to go but it came back in the summer of 2008.
Finally on the day I was going to finally attend, my inner voice kept telling me why I shouldn’t go. It would have been so easy to just stay home another night. It was even raining a little but I knew despite practicing in an outdoor venue, they had places to train when raining. Rain wasn’t an excuse.
I had to push through all fears and resistance because I wanted to go so badly.
I decided to go but could turn around if I changed my mind. Just getting on the subway to go more than I had done previously!
Once I arrived there, I could see a small group of people at the meeting area in the distance. I kept walking slowly towards them surveying the situation. As I got closer, I was spotted. Too late to turn around now.
What happened? Did they ridicule me? Were they assholes? Did I become a human punching bag? All my fears never came true. The little voice that tried to stop me was flat out wrong. Everyone in the group was great. Most were foreigners from places like USA, Italy, Canada, Czech Republic, and even some locals.
For months I went twice a week. I became part of the group. I loved it. I went rain or shine. I was the most intense workouts I’ve ever had to this day!!
I had some of my best nights out ever with them. Experiences I still think. I may have to share the “7-11 beer run” one day. Even when looking back at this picture, I had so many amazing memories. My fears were unrealized.
A dance, kiss, and living in Sydney
Which leads to one night in the city. It was a night of dinner and then a club. I don’t go to clubs back home. Never. They’re loud. They’re smokey and I thought I didn’t like to dance.
In the 8 years since I graduated college, I went to a club…zero times.
Now I’m in Taipei. I’m feeing great. My confidence is sky high. This was the second time I had gone to a club with them. The first time? Insanely fun and I danced. I ended up not caring how I thought others would perceive me. Plus some drinks definitely helped. For me, that’s getting out of my comfort zone!
The second night I met a girl who knew a kickboxing friend of mine. He introduced us. Little did I know at that time she found me cute. However I tried to make small talk with her but she seemed to brush me off. However I never got a “bitchy” vibe from her. So I made sure to keep flirting with her. We flirted all throughout the night. At the end of the night we danced and had an amazing kiss.
She expected that to be it because she was leaving in a month to move to Sydney, Australia. I found this out when I called her a few days later.
She planned on studying English and working there for a year or more. Of course she didn’t plan on meeting anyone before she left. I didn’t expect to have a serious relationship either since I live in Florida. This would never work out right? Nonetheless we spent time that month getting to know each other. The more we learned about each other the closer we got.
A month later when she left for Sydney, she doubted we would see each other again. I had much more confidence. While she was gone we kept in touch daily.
There was something about her that I had never felt before with anyone I met. This feeling drove me crazy and I kept thinking to myself that I’ve never thought about a girl this much ever.
The idea was discussed about me visiting her. After figuring out the best time, the idea of just staying there for a few months came up. The thought of living in Sydney sounded exciting but what was I going to do about my apartment? School? What would I tell my family? I spend many days thinking whether or not I should go. Time was running out. I had to decide quick. My heart leaned towards Sydney but my mind told me to not take a chance. Do the safe thing and stay.
I decided to take a leap of faith. Though I still liked Taipei and going to class, she was more important. I went with my gut feeling of what I wanted to do and stopped listening to the reasons why I shouldn’t do it.
I left before that semester was over. I went to Sydney in November 2008 and lived with her for three months. We lived together in a tiny studio apartment. For two people that had known each other for just two months, we got along amazingly well. No fights. No awkward living moments. Pretty amazing.
If you told me five years ago I would live in Sydney for three months with a girl I met in Taipei, I would have told you that you are absolutely out of your mind.
We fell in love.
I came back to Taipei in late January 2009 to pack up my stuff to get ready to finally go back to Florida. I didn’t want to but I felt maybe it was time.
What ever happened to her?
Just a few days after arriving back in Jacksonville, I was talking to her on the phone. She was at the travel agency looking for a ticket back to Taipei because she couldn’t find a job after school finished. She was ready to go back home. Well how about coming to Jacksonville? She already had a US visa. Next thing we know, I booked a ticket for her and saw her less than a week later. Crazy huh?
Since then we’ve spent time here and spent time there and in between doing the long distance thing. It’s tough but I believe we’re closer because of it.
Because I broke through my comfort zone from going to Taipei, to joining the kickboxing club, to spontaneously going to Sydney, it changed my life. She’s now my fiance and truly the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.
The last time I put a picture of us, many seemed to really enjoy it (especially JK Allen). Thanks to everyone who said awesome things about it.
I’ll share one more to prove that good things do happen when you do things you’re afraid to do.
Have you ever felt so much fear and resistance for doing something and then you did it?
How did it turn out?
Have you done something lately out of your comfort zone?
Photo by Duncan Creamer