You'll Thank Me When You Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

If You're Not Putting Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone, You'll Never Experience Personal Growth

So, why aren't you doing it?

tiannat
tiannat
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Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations isn't always an easy thing. For me personally, I'm someone who claims that they don't mind change, but deep down, it really freaks me out. Whether that's moving to new places, making new friends, eating at a restaurant alone, or even asking out a boy who is super cute, it's scary. I think we all have those 2 a.m. moments when we get the sudden urge to completely switch up our lives. Do something completely different. Reinvent ourselves. But, it's easier said than done.

It's easier to say that you want to lose weight, but actually going to the gym and eating healthier is more difficult.

It's easier to say you'll cut down on your screen time, but actually deleting social media or putting down the phone seems impossible.

It's easier to say you want to be more adventurous, but actually doing spontaneous things can seem out of your safety zone.

But, life isn't easy.

I hate to be blunt, but it's so true. Trying new things, being spontaneous and courageous, or working on improvement doesn't come easily to everyone. But, without pushing yourself to do things you would never consider, you'll be stuck. You'll never reach your full potential.

Now, imagine if you never raised your hand in class growing up. You would have never asked that question. Maybe wouldn't have passed the test. Then, would have settled for your grade.

Imagine you never stood up for your friend. Sure, being blunt is scary, but if you hadn't done that, maybe the torment would've continued.

Imagine if you never moved away from home. You would be stuck only knowing your town, your family, your friends from high school. Maybe you were supposed to meet your future spouse? Or your bridesmaid? Or your best friend? But, you never even left, so it wouldn't have happened.

Adrenaline.

Excitement.

Sugar rushes.

Caffeine overloads.

These are some examples of the good parts of being brave. These things drive you to be a little bolder. To be a little more courageous. A little more honest. Sometimes you can't do it on your own. You need things like adrenaline or excitement to fuel those moments that just always seemed out of your element.

To give some personal testimony, this summer, I decided to be a little more adventurous. More of a "yes" person instead of always making excuses to say "no." It's scary for me because I'm usually a very logical person. Don't get me wrong, I'm always down for a good time, but if it's something that is a little uncomfortable for me, I start thinking about all the facts. I psych myself out and chicken out of it. I know this is out of my comfort zone. Yet, I know it is the most beneficial thing for me at this point in my life. I have never experienced a bad situation where I step a little out of my comfort zone. Obviously, I'm not saying to go drugs or anything because that's a little too far, but by stepping out a little bit, I let go of the fear and just do it. Do it for the memories. For the experience. For myself. That's it.

Nothing happens to you if you stay stuck in your shell. You will forever be the you that you are in this moment. But, no one wants that. You aren't done growing. You aren't done changing. So, step out of your comfort zone to better yourself.

Why haven't you done it yet?

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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Everything I Feared Came True — I'm Still Standing

And so from the outside looking in, someone may say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what if they're right? They don't define me. But even I say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what? God intended for this all to be good.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan
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This past year, almost everything I feared came true. I felt like, at times, I lost everything I cared about: reputation, friendships, and everything in between.

But by the grace of God, I'm still standing. And by that grace, I know it is for the greater good that I cannot yet see. This is a time in transition, but I know for certain that if I can keep standing in this cold season in my life, that God has made me more resilient and more tolerable of adverse circumstances than I ever imagined.

I have always had a deep fear of swimming in open water. When I was really young, I almost drowned, and to this day I have some slight fear going into the water at a beach or ocean. But then once I'm there and in the water, things are fine. I know that everything will be alright, and that's an awareness I didn't have when I was younger.

All my fears came true, but that was the best thing that could have happened to me. At times, that destroyed my anxiety. My pain and grief over losing almost everything I cared about was the best thing that could have happened to me, and although I couldn't see it at times, and sometimes I still can't see it, I know it's true now.

Pamela Cytrynbaum of Psychology Today echoes the point in an article that explores how grief can cure anxiety. The worst happened to Cytrynbaum when she lost her brother out of nowhere, and it wasn't even something she was anxious about. Instead, her anxieties were filled with germs, date rape, identity theft, Ebola, financial instability, and health. She tackled those anxieties through flu shots, insurance, seeing the doctor, and checking her credit rating.

How did this one get past my supersonic, hypervigilant anxiety radar? I thought I had played out every possible loss, every scenario, all of the potential wolves and Nazis at the door. Never saw this one coming.

She realized she didn't fear the right demons, "so certain I knew what to look out for," thinking she could outrun the wolves coming after her. But she couldn't see this one coming. "I know these are just thoughts and my life is full of profound blessings. But that's not how it feels," she says. "I got punk'd by my own brain. Big time." And for her afterward, nothing was scary anymore. "No loss seems impossible," and the loss of her brother was a sort of "pathological innoculation." Her profound suffering in grief taught her to prioritize what really mattered, and all those small fears didn't.

There is another popular adage I was reminded of recently: Murphy's Law, which states that "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong." And we scoff at Murphy's Law as something our overprotective parents or guardians tell us when there's any semblance of risk in our lives. I don't see any reason to abide by it and prepare for the worst possible outcome in any given situation or we won't take any risks (which is probably why, at 22, I don't think about insurance that much). But what happens when it actually applies, when whatever can go wrong does go wrong?

Well, it's important to note that when we say everything goes wrong, it means that everything goes wrong according to our plans. Sure, no one has close ones dying or unemployment or natural disasters anywhere near the top of their plans, but what we mean more by everything going wrong is just that circumstances turned out drastically unexpected.

It is only that kind of adversity, though, that reminds us of how lucky we are and how good we have it. Paul Hudson of Elite Daily writes that highly successful people "plan and then attack" in these circumstances because "moping isn't allowed." But my experience and my circumstances reminded me that sometimes, we just have to feel it or it's like a wound we don't treat, a wound that needs stitching that we don't stitch up. When life is a journey through hell and back, having a scar lets us thrive, but just pressing forward unsustainably with a severe, untreated wound does us no favors. Yes, we have to keep going, but we also need to take the time to stop, too.

Seeing our scars as sources of pride remind us that we are more resilient than we ever imagined, and our stories can inspire others to believe in themselves and do the same. I certainly know the heroes in my life are the ones who have navigated and traversed the most difficult of circumstances and come out on top.

When everything goes wrong, we're reminded how lucky we are to even be alive, even when being alive is an ugly thing to go through. "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on," Robert Frost once said. And those words are true and always will be while we mentally and emotionally wrestle with these questions. But Betty Draper of "Mad Men" offered succession and counterargument to that quote when she said, "I know people say life goes on, and it does, but no one tells you that's not a good thing."

Whether good or bad, though, there was a voice that told me, sometime in the peak of my struggle, that no one can decide whether our circumstances and life going on is good or bad. We decide. And God supersedes us and goes a step even further in the Genesis 50:20 rule: what man intended for evil, God intended for good.

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself," Robert Frost said. And so from the outside looking in, someone may say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what if they're right? They don't define me. But even I say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what? God intended for this all to be good.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for a while. I'm still standing, and everything will be alright.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

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