I started to go through an old notebook this morning and came across a list I made of things I wanted to do that were outside of my comfort zone. Since I moved to a new city (and country, for that matter) after marrying my husband, Rick, everything is a new experience. Some I welcomed, and some I shied away from for too long. I realized this summer that we were approaching our second anniversary, which made me look at what I had and hadn’t accomplished for myself in a new place in that time. I made a goal to do one thing that was new, either with someone else or by myself, each week. I hoped that it would help me learn more about my surroundings and meet new people. I really haven’t made many friends outside of our family, and I was hoping that by doing new things I would meet new people.
Side note: Have you ever moved somewhere new and realized that trying to make friends as an adult is much like dating? For example: I met someone at a bar, a friend of a friend, and we had such a great time talking and hanging out. Then I found myself panicking: how do I ask her for her number? What if she doesn’t want to hang out? She probably has enough friends already, why would she want another? Then, say I do ask for her number in my most care-free way and she gives it to me. When is it appropriate to call? Should I even call, or just send a text? Do I ask her to hang out on our own, or must I invite the friend that introduced us? Would she be more comfortable in a group setting? I haven’t been in the dating scene for five years yet I feel all of the same anxieties that I used to feel! (I am laughing as I write this because it all sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true!) Making friends is hard! I am an outgoing person, but I have become more introverted with each year and a little more shy. I had plenty of friends growing up, but making friends when you’re a child seems so much simpler (mostly because our parents are the ones who really dictate plans with our new friends). I also lived in the same place my whole life and had friends in college who were in my kindergarten class years before, so I really didn’t have to strive to meet new people in college. I did have new college friends who were awesome, but I always had my really fun childhood friends, too, which was a safety blanket, I guess. So, I haven’t made as many new friends as I was hoping by this point, but I am still working on it…but I digress.
So, when I found the list of goals I had made this summer, I read the list over and was pleasantly surprised that I had done five of the things on the list without really consciously thinking about them. I went to a hot yoga class by myself (several now, in fact), I have explored downtown where I live (by myself and with others), I started a book club (we are on our second book), I attended a new church (several!), and I have explored Toronto more (after all, it’s only an hour train ride and big cities are so cool!). The feeling of excitement and pride for having done some of the things that I was putting off because of fear or nerves still floods me as I re-read the list and see check-marks next to those five things. I have to say, that with fall in full-force now (the leaves have almost all fallen to the ground, it has been raining for weeks, and I have switched from a light jacket to my down-jacket), it is nice to have something to brighten my day and make me feel good about myself.
There are still things on the list that I would like to do. I think I will re-write them and add to it, and this time I will put the list where I can see it daily. Or, maybe not. Maybe I should tuck it away again so that when I find it in a few months I can check off lots of items. Perhaps if it was in front of me everyday I would feel like it was daunting because I would see all of the things that are outside of my comfort zone; maybe I should pick one goal and display it until I do it then put up a new one. I don’t know. Whatever I decide, I just hope to keep doing new things and adding check marks to my list. I do feel much more confident in my surroundings and I don’t feel lost for ideas anymore when friends and family come to visit. I actually know a few things around town to do! And, dare I say, I have made some new friends! I even got two phone numbers last night :o) Now, should I text or call…ha ha!
Yes it is scary acknowledging the things that make us uncomfortable (writing the list). Yes, sometimes you have to be willing to try the things on your own and hope for the best (for me, a GPS was incredibly helpful!). Take it from me, it is worth it. The anxiety that I had to explore new places on my own, or step into a yoga class by myself and sit in (gasp!) the front row, seem so small now since I have actually done these things.
Sometimes we have to nudge ourselves off of the “cliff” to realize that we were only standing on a curb. So make a list for yourself. What is something you want to do, but fear or anxiety has been holding you back? Simply putting that thing in writing is the first step toward doing it. Life is short, so we should take advantage of the time we have by not letting nerves run our lives. Step outside of your comfort zone and relish in all that new experiences have to offer you. You might just have fun!