Free + Wild: Leave Your Comfort Zone

Comfort zones, like many personal things, are relative. I know for some people, what I did this summer is a walk in the park! But let’s push the comparison aside for this one.

This is about YOU and YOUR journey; bursting out of YOUR comfort bubble.

I think there are a lot of turning points throughout life, each with their own distinct lessons and experiences. Your early 20's is definitely one of those points. At 22, for me, my turning point was wanting more, wanting growth, feeling that there was more I could offer to the world and I had to find it.

I grew up fortunate, I never had to want for anything. I had the space and encouragement to go out and make mistakes and learn, but it was all still done within this safe haven bubble of support and love and having the help to get me out of a sticky situation. I was, and am, so appreciative of this life, but I felt I needed to do more, I longed for some struggle, to feel a bit lost and confused so I could build a more resilient self.

There were so many questions and uncertainties going through my head, and I had to get rid of that feeling.

As someone with anxiety, the way I usually deal with tough mental situations is by simplifying. I’ll make a simple list, or create a schedule for the day that only includes a few things; I simplify in order to leave room for thinking space. So in following my typical coping patterns, I packed one suitcase, and with one person I knew (the most lovely and supportive partner), I moved to Ottawa for 3 months.

If I were to say I immediately fell in love with a new city and experience I’d be telling a huge lie. I cried nearly everyday for the first 3 weeks, I was frustrated, and faced the most rejection I ever have to date within the first few weeks. I missed my friends, I didn’t even know why I was there, I had no solid reason, no cool story.

Life hit me like a brick wall. 

I had recently read an article on LinkedIn about how beneficial it is to step out of your comfort zone and how it actually increases confidence. As the days went on, I was able to focus more on me, narrow down my life to essential things I needed (which BTW isn’t much), and the things I loved to do.

More and more everyday I was becoming happier. As I accepted rejection, as I spent more time just exploring alone, meeting new people, starting new positions and building a new schedule; you kind of have no choice but to be confident, even if you’re not fully feeling it. After all, you have to put on a good first impression, right?

And what’s amazing about a new place is you have all the space in the world to mold yourself and grow, and create this new, resilient, confident you!

Leaving my comfort zone brought me so much more growth and answers than I could’ve imagined. It made me realize how little I really need to be happy, how confident I can be, and how bad-ass I am at owning new situations (with practice). I even got to a point where I was comfortable and having fun in the city when my partner wasn’t there! Did I seriously just reach ANOTHER level of independence? It felt so good!

Having this blank canvas allowed me to make multiple new connections, create new sacred spaces, and learn more about my personal goals and myself. 

It not only feels like I have a second home now (both physically and figuratively) but I feel so much more ready to take on the next chapter of my life.

You don’t have to have a plan, or a straight answer, or much of anything figured out. Heck, you don’t even have to go far, or have much money. All you need is the tiniest bit of courage to take a first step into the unfamiliar, and the vulnerability to accept the unknown.

- Alyssa Walsh

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