Beautiful Things Can Happen When We Step Outside Our Comfort Zone

Calm Woman Meditating on Sunset Beach, Relax in Open Arms Pose

“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.

About Melissa Field

Melissa Field has always had a passion for writing and creative projects. Pursuing her goals has caused her to bump up against a lot of fear, which in turn made her passionate about learning to cultivate inner strength and harmony. She's created a variety of guided meditations to help others get out of their heads and into their hearts at

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  • Real change is difficult at the beginning, but gorgeous at the end. Change begins the moment you get the courage and step outside your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone

  • Hey Milly, this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I wrote this article over a month ago, but I have been struggling to go to the next step in my life again. “Real change is difficult at the beginning, but gorgeous at the end.” I love that. I’m going to think about it today as I reflect on why I’m scared of the changes coming.

  • Keith Ann Romano

    How inspiring. When you mentioned showing up for everything I got a pang in my chest. I am such a hider. I want to show up and be social, but I find it hard in social settings. I can not get use to that kind of uncomfortable…yet. I will reread and remind myself, practice makes perfect. And you are right… No one will pick apart everything I say…They will just remember the general conversation.

  • Hey Keith, I can totally (on many levels) relate to being a hider. And when I did show up, I felt guarded and like I needed to be prepared for all the things people might say or I might say. I couldn’t just relax and be with the people. It was like I was going into battle and coming with every piece of armor and protection I could conjure up! This is something I have wrestled with for years and bit by bit it’s gotten better. As you said, practice makes perfect.

    One thing that really helped me was Shonda Rhimes book “A Year of Yes.” I was amazed that this incredibly successful person also struggled with showing up. I couldn’t believe it! I thought surely she would show up to everything and feel empowered and awesome, but she too was a hider. It’s a great book, and if you like audiobooks, I had so much fun listening to it.

  • Iwant2bFree

    It was such a beautiful article. Loved it. Your thought flow was so creative that it made a poor reader like me, read it with interest 🙂
    Sometimes we don’t show up because we keep waiting to be perfect. And we just keep waiting.
    So this article can really make people like me get inspired and not wait for something to happen so that we show up.

  • Yes, you really hit the nail on the head with “We keep waiting to be perfect. And we just keep waiting.” That really makes me think about what causes me more pain – to show up not-perfect and face what’s happening, or to not show up at all. I believe that not showing up at all and waiting and waiting causes me more pain in the long run, and that is what’s going to keep me going forward and reaching into these unknown spaces. Thank you for your insights and your comment!

  • Rachel Rubright

    Melissa, You are my new favorite writer. There’s something so amazing about finding someone out there who thinks like you do, whether in a song, a book, or an article. As I read your post, I kept thinking, “Omg that sounds just like me!”. Thank you for writing this. It was inspiring and real. Sometimes I wonder if I have mild social anxiety or if I’m just a little weird or if I’m too introverted. Whatever the case may be, you inspired me to keep putting myself out there and keep getting uncomfortable, and that it’s okay to feel that way. Thank you!! <3

  • Hey Rachel! I’m so glad you enjoyed this and could see yourself in it. Being an introvert can definitely lead to moments of mild social anxiety. I think we also get confused about who we are because no one is completely an introvert or an extrovert. Most of us have qualities of both, and so we’re never quiet sure where we fit in a social setting.

    One of the things that helped me to feel more at east was to first acknowledge it’s totally okay to be an introvert. I don’t have to be loud and confident in order to connect with people and enjoy myself. I learned a lot about the power of being an introvert from the book Quiet, and once I felt more at ease with myself I kind of let go of all this resistance and started exploring other parts of me that where more open.

  • Love it, Melissa. Often, we create resistance, thinking that other people are judging us and the key around it is to focus on having fun; if we just focus on having fun in the moment then that’s what you’ll induce. Awesome stuff! 😉 #keepgrowing #keepcreating

  • Great comment Ewen! I’m going to think about this and work on applying it to my life. Focusing on what feels good, on what’s fun, rather than what others are thinking sounds so much easier and lighter.

  • It really is. And something amazing will happen. When we start to have fun with life we inspire others to do the same and they begin to grow their fulfilment in their lives. Fun, joy, happiness become infectious, in the best sense possible. 😉

  • Yesssss, that makes so much sense, and I have experienced it a few times. People respond to whatever vibration or thoughts we’re putting out, and when I tune into feeling fun then it uplifts the people around me. But when I feel nervous and unsure then I am putting a nervous energy out. Feeling into fun seems to give other people permission to relax and have fun also, which really makes me want to do it all the more!

  • Love it, Melissa! 😉