I heard myself saying “genital warts” out loud into a huge camera while wearing a cheery yellow sundress, holding a vase of flowers while sweat dripped down my back under three hot, bright lights.
True talk. No joke. How did I get here? Little steps outside my comfort zone. Why, you may ask, would I want to make any effort to get to a place where I have to talk about STDs in public? Let me explain. This was just one of the steps that continued to build and give me amazing experiences and connections.
It began with a good friend asking me to play a ghost in a Comcast public service announcement. The opportunity fed into my natural interest in acting. Did I worry that I hadn’t taken an acting class since high school?
Maybe a little, but I said “yes” and took a little step outside my comfort zone to help a brother out.
Yes, I played the ghost of a dead girl who died in a drunk driving accident.
I looked horrible, my face painted gray with black circles under my eyes, I was pudgy and out of shape. But I listened to that little voice that wanted to have this experience. I was not comfortably home sitting on my couch curled up with a book. Although I did that plenty. Not this time though. I was a little uncomfortable in that Stevie Nicks dress, acting undead, but it led me to the next step.
I started trolling the Craigslist category “tv/film/video” looking for acting roles. I threw together a resume with my measly experience and started going to auditions for little roles in independent films, student films, commercials, independent music videos. The works.
I ended up playing an amputee, a paraplegic, a lesbian, a racist mother, a naive co-ed in a vintage style sex-ed video, an murderous wife, and a bitchy customer, among many others. And I’ll never forget playing the concerned patient with HPV worried about cervical dysplasia.
One experience led to the next and every time I took a role I was stepping outside my comfort zone.
It became a practice. It got easier to say yes. I said yes when an Art Institute student director asked me to be his assistant producer. I said yes when a group of filmmakers asked me to join their team for a weekend filmmaking competition. I made so many good friends.
I had amazing experiences. It was worth every risk, every moment of feeling a little uncomfortable.
It didn’t stop there. I had made pushing the edge of my comfort zone a habit and when I was pregnant with my second, I hopped on Craigslist one day and clicked on “tv/film/video”. I found that The Learning Channel was looking for pregnant women due in June in Chicago. That’s me! I thought. Yes!
I answered the call and my homebirth ended up on “A Baby Story”. Click here to watch on YouTube.
Now I’m writing a book on a way to ease labor using a method that I practiced during that birth. Showing that method on mainstream media on a popular show can’t hurt me.
All that practice in front of the camera makes my next project of making yoga videos not quite as scary. Just a little bit scary. If I had never said yes to playing a dead drunk girl I would never have the confidence or experience to do the things I want to do today.
It wasn’t all easy times choosing to do things that were uncomfortable. There were many ideas and projects I had that were left to die on post-it notes and half-built websites.
We see the brilliant slogan “Just do it” and think “why can’t I just do it?”
We often hear ourselves talk about ideas, experiences, desires, opportunities, and goals. Why do we so often start a project then stall completely? Why do we find ourselves paralyzed and never start?
We want to experience as much as we possibly can in this life! Right?
Here is ONE PRACTICE that can help us:
little bit scary- we can practice taking tiny little steps out of our comfort zone, doing one little thing that scares just a bit- everyday. Yes, everyday. Some days that little scary thing may be getting out of bed. It could be calling someone or setting up a meeting with someone who could help you with your goal. It could be saying yes to something you want even if it scares you a little. If it feels a little uncomfortable, then it could be your something scary for the day. Not too scary. Not painful. You don't want to be a Pain In Your Butt. Just a little uncomfortable.
We do it every day because then it becomes a practice, and eventually a habit.
Once it’s a habit, we have so much practice taking tiny steps outside our comfort zone that we are ready to start taking bigger steps out and doing things that may scare us a bit more. We can find ourselves doing things we never thought possible.
Growth is a little uncomfortable. When we stretch and work our bodies to make them stronger and more flexible, it’s uncomfortable. The same is true in our lives.
When we feel total comfort, we aren’t growing, we’re shrinking.
Let’s step outside and do something a little scary today.
Embrace your edge.