“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown
I'm about to write something that's freaky and a bit philosophical, but true. Really take this in: You become your comfort zone.
Getting out of your comfort zone is crucial to actualizing your aspirations.
If you want something that you don't already have, there's a good chance you'll have to do things that you haven't already done.
Doing those things may not feel natural to you. You may even feel uncomfortable and awkward. But ultimately, behind the frightening facade of fear is a bigger version of who you already are. That's where the fun is.
Cracking your comfort zone involves feeling fear and befriending it. Your fear is there for a reason. Respect and embrace it.
The best of the best feel fear. So will you. The trick is to not let it immobilize you, but instead, use it as a driving force to take you where you want to go.
When we learn how to accept and embrace our fear of the unknown, we open ourselves up to an endless opportunity for pure potentiality to emerge.
My Dancing Deficiency
I recently got my friend a gig DJ'ing at my girlfriend's sister's “sweet sixteen.” Great party. Good food. Gregarious company. It was a real hit, and he was spinning all of the perfect records at precisely the right times.
I was amazed at how he had total control of the dance floor from a click of the mouse and a scratch of the record.
Now may be a good time to confess to you one of my deepest, dirtiest, juiciest, untold secretes ever: I don't dance! It's not that I can't; I just won't. Weddings, clubs, bars, parties—not a chance!
It could be that I'm the stereotypical white guy with no rhythm. Or, maybe it was the years of constant clubbing where my great dancing best friend took jabs at everyone he saw letting loose on the dance floor.
No, no, I've got it: It's probably some skewed, screwed-up, repressed childhood memory of me doing the Macarena on stage in the second grade. Whatever it is, dancing is not me.
The only dancing I did all night was for ten seconds when my girlfriend's mom made a move on me. Fast forward to 12:30 AM as the cake was being cut and everyone was seated. The dance floor was empty and my girlfriend was sitting on my lap.
I glanced to the DJ booth and saw my homeboy laughing with the MC while looking at me. As I looked away, I was wondering what was so funny. Five seconds later I looked back and these dudes were still crackin' up. I didn't get it yet, but oh boy, was I about to.
I was mid-sentence speaking with my girlfriend, and out of the speakers came “And now we would like to welcome Jacob and Natasha to the dance floor for a very special dance.” (That's me and my girl!)
Holy Crap! Seriously dude? Are you kidding me!?!?
Sound the alarms. Alert the authorities. Somebody press the panic button!!!
Now, I'm not anti-dancing. I don't think there's anything immoral or scandalous about it. I actually love dancing with my two cats to eighties Michael Jackson music. I'm just not comfortable dancing in front of crowds.
But right there, right then, there were 100 people waiting to watch me put the moves on my girl like I'm some sort of go-go dancer dude.
I looked at my girlfriend Natasha. She's well aware of my dancing deficiency. She looked at me to lead with her “what should we do now” face. Next thing you know, I said “F&#% it. Let's do it!” Guess what happened next?
We danced! People watched. People clapped. People shouted. People joined. No doubt about it, it was nerve-wrecking, but damn, it was fun, too.
So, has that dance changed my life? Maybe in some small way, but not significantly. What has and will continue to change my life is my willingness to embrace my fears and use them as fuel to drive me where I know I need to go.
It creeps up every time I record a video for my blog, every time I speak publicly, and every time I do something “scary” while moving toward the direction of my dreams.
Blowing Out the Candles
Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, says that fear is excitement without the breath. When you start to feel fear, the best thing you can do is breathe into it.
Let's practice. Take some air and bring it deep down into your belly. Hold it for two seconds. Then blow the air all of the way out, literally like it's your birthday and you're blowing out the cake candles. Before you read any further, stop. Really try this.
Do this a couple of times and it will slow down your heart and your mind. It's a great start.
You're going to be scared—sometimes terrified. But not only is that okay, it's great. The key is this: don't objectify that nervousness as an obstacle. Instead, use that nervous energy as fuel to overcome the real obstacle: your fear.
At that moment you're going to feel alive. The wise will learn to love that feeling. That's what coming closer to your dreams feels like.
Remember: fear is excitement without the breath. You're feeling the way you feel because this is important to you and you're excited about it. It could potentially improve your life.
Studies show that 90 percent of the things we worry about never comes true. Now is not the time to worry. Trust yourself and breathe, just like we practiced. Then stop thinking about it and just do it!
Photo by Hannah Alice