Life Happens Outside of Our Comfort Zone

Life Happens Outside of Our Comfort Zone

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“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” ~Robin S. Sharma

I recently arrived in my new home city of New Orleans. I came here for a change and to refresh my spirits, and I’m so glad I did. It’s truly an uplifting and unique city. Coming here certainly shifted me out of my comfort zone, as I’m originally from California.

However, what I know from past experience is that breaking free of what’s comfortable is an ongoing, step-by-step journey. Simply put, it’s not enough that I’m here. I have to consciously keep embracing this expansion.

When I first arrived here I felt that feeling of love and happiness I get when I travel to places that truly feel special. A warm, humid breeze blew past my face when I stepped out of my car. The house I’ll be staying in had a big blue door, and I’ve found bright colors and old fashioned, French Creole homes are the norm here.

As I was being checked into my house, some neighbors came out to let my landlord know her car was blocking their driveway. They all knew each other, so the exchange was friendly, and it ended with them saying they were having a party that night for an engagement.

They invited me to come, and I wanted to say, “Really? You want me to come? But you don’t know me and I don’t know the people getting married!”

There was something about their instant openness and receptivity that I wanted to question and second-guess. But they meant it. They really did invite me, an unknown and random person, to the engagement party they were throwing for a friend.

I went home and I knew I had to go. It made me nervous, as I would be showing up to a private event alone, without any chance of bumping into a friendly face. There would be no buffers. No safety nets. Just me. And that’s why I had to go.

I had to go because it would be uncomfortable. I had to go because we spend so much of our lives going out of our way to avoid this exact kind of scenario.

There are few things we dread more than feeling stranded and awkward in a room full of strangers. But the funny thing is, we’re also obsessed with this exact feeling—the feeling that life happens outside of our comfort zone.

You know those signs that say, “This is your comfort zone” and then have a circle drawn around the words? Somewhere outside of the circle it always says, “This is where the magic happens.” Yeah, you know. They’re kind of ridiculous signs. You cannot sum up what it means to get outside of your comfort zone in a quaint little sign.

Getting outside your comfort zone comes with intense feelings. If there are too many unknown factors we tend not to want to go into that space at all.

We do not think of magic and glitter when someone says, “This is going to make you deeply uncomfortable. You might feel embarrassed. You might feel alone. You might feel incapable and even afraid.” Instead, we tend to think of all the reasons we should say no to the opportunity.

Part of this is because we don’t see every uncomfortable opportunity as being worth our time. Why should I go to a random engagement party and be weird and make other people feel weird? The reason is because these little moments of discomfort prepare you for the big ones.

What you really want, that thing that really is outside of the circle and has all the rainbows and the unicorns, when it does show up, it’s going to rattle you and shake you up and turn your world upside down. But you can handle it. You can.

The best way to know you can handle it is to practice and show up when it’s inconvenient, all the time, basically saying yes to everything. You will get so comfortable with being uncomfortable that the lines will in fact blur and you will flow with life, at ease no matter how rough the waters.

After I showered and got myself dressed I walked like I knew what I was doing to the neighbor’s house. If you’ve never read up on how body posture can you make you feel powerful, you may want to. It’s honestly life changing knowledge.

I walked into the party and everyone was dressed in suits and dresses. I was wearing leggings and a cotton striped shirt. It’s the nicest thing I had. It was okay though. I was expecting to be out of my comfort zone. I was diving in, head first.

Had I let the clothing stop me, I would have missed seeing something amazing.

A man showed up to this fancy party in a sleeveless Fred Flintstones shirt. The shirt had a tie painted on it, so in truth, he may have actually dressed better than me. But it just showed me that all of the time we obsess over not having the right clothes or look or whatever is so absurd.

There is always going to be a person in the equivalent of a Fred Flintstones shirt, and more often than not, you’re going to wish you were that person because they are totally carefree.

After getting a drink I found a couple at a table that looked uncomfortable and like they didn’t know anyone. I descended on them and introduced myself with a firm handshake.

I let them know I didn’t know anyone, I was invited that afternoon, and I was just going with it. I had an okay time talking to them. Just okay. There was no magic.

Eventually they saw some other people they knew and I was abandoned.

Everyone at the table was talking to someone but me. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew at this point my presence was weird. But you know what? No one has ever died from being uncomfortable. So I just rolled with it.

I sipped my drink, looked around, and considered if I should stay or go.
I decided to hang out a bit longer because I wasn’t quite ready to walk away.

I lingered in the corner alone, probably looking a little creepy. I grabbed another drink and listened to a speech and I realized then that I didn’t want to leave. Being a little uncomfortable but surrounded by happy people, live music, and an amazing vibe sounded a lot better than being comfortable and sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

I then grabbed some food and saw a guy standing alone at a table. This was when I finally found the magic. Not the kind of magic that ends in us realizing we’re soul mates. The guy was actually nineteen (I’m thirty-four), and soon after I started talking to him his mom came over.

They were two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I was so relieved I hadn’t run off when it got hard. I was relieved I was there, to meet this guy, who was so smart and interesting and who made me think, “Wow, I wish I could follow his journey and see what kind of impact he makes. I know he’s going to do something awesome.”

I was so delighted with these people who didn’t look at their cellphones the whole night. It’s been a long time since a stranger has given me that much of their time and attention just because. To feel a connection like that, with people I’d just met… magic.

Magic. Glitter. Unicorns. It was all there. I just had to ride the wave and let it happen.

And those other people who abandoned me and avoided eye contact the rest of the night? I bet they’ll never even remember meeting me. They aren’t thinking right now, “Wow, that girl was so weird. Who does she think she just is to just show up like that?”

This is something we tend to do—we think other people are thinking about us more than they are. And even if they are talking about me, it’s hard to care because I won’t go away from this night remembering them.

I’ll remember Harrison, the nineteen-year-old jazz cellist who would love to teach music.

I’ll remember his mom, who wrote and created a photography book around flowers and an abandoned house in Detroit.

I’ll remember twinkle lights in the trees.

I’ll remember the soft breeze on a warm night.

I’ll remember the unbelievable graciousness of a stranger who welcomed me into his home and his party.

I’ll remember the man at the bar who totally understood why I came. He had also read Shonda Rhimes A Year of Yes and he loved it too.

And most of all, I’ll remember that I don’t need armor in life. I don’t need to shield myself from the unknown. I don’t need to be comfortable at all times in order to feel I’m on the right path.

I just need to show up. I need to flow with what’s happening. When you show up, it’s amazing how the Universe shows up for you in return.


  1. Learning new things is uncomfortable. Trying new experiences is uncomfortable. People often have a fear of discomfort–in some places, that fear is so great it’s almost like there’s a mythic cult of comfort.

    I have found that doing new things makes me uncomfortable, sure, but I don’t need to be afraid of it. Discomfort won’t kill me. And being willing to learn new things and have new experiences has made my life better.

  2. Growth is an inherent part of the natural world, whether it’s the development of a seed into a shoot to eventually become a tall oak tree, or the transformation of a caterpillar into a cocoon and finally into a beautiful butterfly. The same is true for human beings, as we advance through the different stages of development from foetus to baby, toddler to child, adolescent to adult.

    Physically, our growth will come to an end by our early 20s. Many of us take this as a sign to stop other forms of growth as well, whether consciously or not, as we settle into a comfortable life of working in a stable job, living with a committed partner, and staying in a city where we know how everything works and we have a network of friends. We have a routine, we feel at home, and we’re living largely on autopilot.

  3. What’s the challenge in staying in your comfort zone and doing things which you are already good at. Sometimes you have to go to the other side, try out new things. You’ll get a different experience.

    Moving out of comfort zone might not turn out all right. But it’ll be a good learning for you. By coming out of your comfort zone, you’ll either learn/master a new skill or you’ll get to learn from your mistakes. So break out of your comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.

  4. Only partly true, in my opinion.

    Comfort zone brings a sense of security to the person and relaxes him. This paves the path for contemplation and helps him gain some sense of direction in life. But it also makes a person complacent.

    Hence, life outside the comfort zone is needed too. There is constant excitement here but also heavy pressure. There is an influx of creative ideas, however this is stressful too.

    There is no doubt, that both are essential. While exciting times are needed in life, so are calm and peaceful times.

  5. All the awesome stuff, yes.

    If you’re happy with never progressing passed anything normal, staying in your comfort zone is fine.

    If you want to be more than just normal, you’re gonna have to step out of it from time to time.

    If you want to be spectacular, you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  6. The mind once stretched by a new idea, will never return to its original dimensions.
    This quote rocks as it allows us to understand something cool about human nature – we are
    capable of so much expansion in who we are and the capacity for our Comfort Zone to keep
    growing is endless! Outside is where the magic happens. And as you continue to step
    outside, more magic naturally becomes what is the thing you call LIFE !

  7. Life has an evolution when you leave your comfort zone.
    Otherwise, it remains where it is. Monotonous. Routine. Inertia soaked.

    Regrets then flow upon, had I done that I would have been else where!
    If you feel so, why didn’t you put in extra efforts already?

    Had I pushed myself a little harder I would have gotten little more ahead, little more far, little better than where I am. If so, why didn’t you already?

  8. Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained.

    Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.

    The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having tried everything else, the king thought to himself, “May be I need someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this problem.” So he cried out to his court, “Go and get a farmer.”

    In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. He said to his court, “Bring me the doer of this miracle.”

    The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king. The king asked him, “How did you make the falcon fly?”

    With head bowed, the farmer said to the king, ” It was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting.”

    The possibilities are endless but for many of us, most of the time they remain undiscovered. So let’s learn to move out of the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to the wonderful world of opportunities. So Let’s move out of the comfort zone, because magic begins there.

  9. Yes it’s true.

    To gain more experiences.
    To realize that you are capable to survive outside from your comfort zone as well.
    To know your abilities and skills. Sometimes we weren’t aware about our own qualities and skills. Trying to do something new help us to know ourself a bit more.

  10. To some extent. However, I wouldn’t go too far out of what your natural gifts are, because well … that’s why they’re your natural gifts. You don’t waste a fish’s life trying to teach it to climb a tree.

    There’s trying to stretch yourself further into your gifts, and then there’s abandoning your gifts to do stuff that isn’t your forte. Don’t waste time with the latter. Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean turning yourself into something you aren’t.

    However, there are a lot of people in this world who will try to nag or browbeat you into doing things that you don’t care to do or that you damned well know are not a bright idea by telling you to “live a little” and “get out of your comfort zone.” Screw them. You decide when you want to give something a try and when you want to pass.

  11. Thanks for the A2A!

    I am quite happy to write with my right hand. I don’t have any regrets about it. Then, one day I just thought about writing with my left hand. It was harder than what I expected it to be. I slowly learnt to write with it and Voila! I had mastered it. Now I am ambidextrous.

    I follow a serious routine of waking up early, going for a walk and the other activities of the day. I am quite comfortable with it. Someday when I look back, I don’t have anything exciting to tell anyone. I am bored of being monotonous. I try new things. Simple things such as watching 3 movies together or waking up late or going for a walk in a different route.

    I wouldn’t exactly agree with the question. We are bored with the occurrence of the same things, which result in trying new things.

    Most of us are never satisfied with what we have or what we get. We long for something else or something more. This results in going that extra mile to achieve that “goal”. In fact, it is our curiosity arising during boredom, which kindles us to do something apart from our normal routine.

    So, you’ve now got out of your “comfort zone”!


  12. Exactly….

    In the comfort zone, everything happens in a boundaries you expect. Outside it, everything happens without boundaries. That’s it.

    When I started travelling, it was pretty tough. Now I can’t live in comfort zone peacefully.

  13. Oh yeah!

    I’m a semi-introvert. I don’t mingle with people around me unless I know them very well. Even with people I know it takes me to be in “good mood” (read comfort zone) to open up. There have been many instances where I’ve backed out at the last minute of an outing or a trip just because I was not in “good mood”. I was the same even when I moved to London.

    Then came the moment of ‘awakening’. I moved to Hong Kong. I decided to explore out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be fit but didn’t want to do out if it takes me out of my comfort zone i.e. getting out of home. But I did. I saw a whole new world. By the time I thought I needed a break from the exploration it was 4 months already I started it. Now I’m loving my life more than ever. I’m happier than ever. I’m fitter than ever. All because one decision – to move out of my comfort zone.

    I might not have inspired you but I’m happy to share my thoughts with my fellow quorans. Cheers!