I do not remember learning what “comfort zone” means. It has been a part of my generation’s upbringing, and a phrase that was naturally ingratiated into our vocabulary at young ages. Rather than being a one-trick toddlers and teen, I have always been pushed to get out of that zone of complacency and comfort.
As an adult, I had to realize what my comfort zone actually was. Though I was taught to always push myself and try new things, I was also keen to accept praise whenever the endeavour was successful and even more eager to avoid complete failure. I am 25 years old, and I realized that I generally reject what I am not good at. My comfort zone is built on feeling accomplished, and failure is perhaps the most scary thing to me.
This mind set has been detrimental to my fitness. I realize that now. I have avoided gym memberships and classes, marathon training, going solo to a yoga studio, etc. because I do not want to be a failure in front of others. I don’t want to display my physical weakness, the fact I can’t touch my toes, or the way I sweat like a giant man. The thought of it is NOT COMFORTABLE.
Enter Rock Climbing.
I have always been a “finesse” fitness person. I have done yoga, tennis, ballet, and generally avoided the high impact sports (especially with teams). I have considered myself weak and incapable of things like rock climbing… even though I have always wanted to try it. My chance came this February, when my husband was invited to go by his school’s departmental secretary (who is the nicest person you will ever meet). I wanted to go and see what it was like, but I was so nervous to be an amateur in a room of experienced climbers. My hands were sweaty from the moment we left our apartment to the moment I stood in front of the wall ready to climb. I was shaking and scared that I had made a mistake. Negative thoughts ran through my head faster than I could process them. Then I started to climb.
I was not very good. I had a hard time positioning my legs on the wall and using my fingers to grip the rocks. I forgot I had muscles anywhere else but my arms, and I awkwardly made it to the top of the wall in about 5 minutes. When I got to the top though, I did not feel like a failure in comparison to others. I felt a high of accomplishment. THIS is what getting out of your comfort zone feels like. It was not a perfect climb, nor was it my ideal way exercise, but getting to the top of that wall was a feeling of triumph. For that moment, I did not care what others thought.
We have continued to go to the same facility to climb nearly every week. I started at the lowest level of climb, and I have managed to go up one level since then. I’m still the worst climber out there, but I can’t get enough of that feeling of pushing myself further. It has also inspired me to try other things that I usually avoid because of the fear that I will not be comfortable (like going solo to a yoga class).
What has pushed you out of your comfort zone as an adult? What piece of your fitness routine drives you the most? What have you learned about yourself through trying new things? These are all questions that I hope to answer POSITIVELY by the end of 2018.