I still remember the dizzy hot sweat I went into that day at 9 years old when my acting teacher said, “I’m directing the upcoming play and I really think you should audition for it.”
He might as well have said, “I think you should string yourself up by the toes so that your stomach drops into your chest and your head feels like it’s going to explode with pressure.”
Because that’s what it felt like.
The terror of standing in front of a panel of people who were judging my performance and deciding if I was worthy enough to get cast in a play was more than my tender self esteem could handle.
Now, you may wonder what I was doing in an acting class in the first place. But that’s the irony. See I knew that I had a talent. I knew I was meant to shine my light. So taking a class was my way of doing something in that direction.
But when I was actually presented with an opportunity to truly step into my light – to get out of the classroom – and to actually LIVE my dream, I shriveled.
It was waaay too intimidating. The fear of messing up, the fear of looking stupid, the fear of getting rejected…
Better to just stay in the classroom, where I could hone and practice skills, but never be put to the test of really needing to put myself out there.
Do you relate to any of this?
Feeling like you’re preparing and planning for life, but lacking the confidence to actually LIVE it?
If you do, trust me, you’re not alone.
Not only have I been there, but in the countless conversations I’ve had with perfectionists, high achievers and people pleasers over the years, this is the #1 thing I hear from them too.
Some people call this staying in our comfort zone. But I don’t think there is anything comfortable about this zone.
In fact, it feels awful to play small and hold back. The self judgement is the worst. Getting down on yourself for not being where you “should” be by now, embarrassed by where you are…
You just want to scream to yourself, “DO SOMETHING!” But instead, you freeze. You get overwhelmed. You get dizzy. Your heart pounds out of your chest, and you think, “NO WAY! This clearly is not the path for me.”
So you stay put…
…getting distracted by all the other things going on in your life…
And somehow, that thing that’s calling you forward – that deep desire to help others or shine your light or live your purpose – gets blotted out by the noise of the every day, and you go back to business as usual.
Only it gnaws at you.
And so you have to do more and more to blot it out…distraction…obsession and even addiction.
There is nothing comfortable about this.
That’s why I call it a convenience zone.
It’s convenient to have so much going on that you can’t get on with discovering your purpose.
It’s convenient that your family is endlessly requiring you to be mediator and get everything under control.
It’s convenient that everyone needs you so you can never take time for you.
It’s convenient that work is demanding more from you than even and it feels like whatever you do it isn’t enough.
Or in my case…
It’s convenient to tell yourself that you’re not ready, and that maybe next year, you’ll be good and ready to try out for the play.
Whatever our convenience zone looks like, the result is the same:
A life that feels unfulfilled. Like something is missing – even if you have so many other things to be grateful for.
The truth is that, when we’re not going for the things that stretch us outside our “convenience” zone, we’re not truly living.
Which is why I want to share with you the one tool that I want everyone I know to start using right away. Because this one thing, once I truly applied and integrated it, catapulted me to new levels of freedom, confidence and a deep sense of joy.
Get comfortable in the discomfort.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like discomfort. Ever.
In fact, we’d rather trade the short term comfort (ice cream anyone?) for the long term discomfort. (And then perpetually be forced to “treat” the long term discomfort.)
Anything to not feel the tension, anxiety, overwhelm, loneliness, grief, fear, shame or disappointment in the moment.
But here’s the problem with that. Growth requires discomfort.
And anything that involves living your purpose, shining your light or helping others requires growth.
As Anais Nin reminds us, “and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud, was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Even nature reminds us of this fact.
So instead of shying away from discomfort, or numbing it out all together, I invite you to use discomfort as a guide. An indication of exactly where to lean in.
Because I can assure you, that if something is bringing up all your stuff, (the hot sweats, dizziness and palpitations) this isn’t a sign that you’re on the wrong path.
This is actually a sign that you’ve just stumbled right onto it.