Get Out of Your Zone

It’s been three months  since the death of my lil brother… ( click here to learn more) and since the piece I wrote about him I kinda felt like I had writer’s block. I mean there were plenty of things I have wanted to write about but I’ve been avoiding actually sitting down and putting pen to paper (I always write before I type-in case, you’re wondering) because I was nervous about how it would play out—but if this tragedy has taught me anything, it is to sieze the day, sieze the moment and just go for it- whatever “it” might be. Life is too short.

So, let’s go.

There’s a commercial by an auto parts store brand where a voiceover says “Get in the zone, Auto Zone.”And because of that slogan, that’s the only auto parts store I really know of or pay attention to. The power of effective marketing. I want to tell you the opposite of that store’s message. Get out of your zone!

In a recent bible study, my pastor (and father-for those of you who do not know) talked about how so many of us do not like to be taken out of our comfort zone. It struck me because, well, it’s true for one thing. Also, because recently I was talking to someone and said that professionally, I want to be stretched-I want the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone because that is the only way I can develop and grow into the next phase of my career.

Discomfort, although annoying, sometimes painful and scary even, is necessary.

I was extremely uncomfortable when at 22, I found myself to be a single mom with a broken engagement, without a job or place of my own and having to move back in with my parents, follow their rules and meet their expectations. Now, I love my parents dearly-it wasn’t them that made those 20 months uncomfortable, it was because I had some growing up to do. Up to that point I thought I was grown yet soon realized that I wasn’t. I was a 22 year old kid who fell in love with a boy, stayed in a dysfunctional relationship for 5 years longer than I should have and made a baby.  The thing I thank God for-actually two things- 1) at least I had a college degree and 2) my parents were still around and willing to “take me in.” And, that discomfort I felt motivated me to do what I had to do- which was let go of the hurt and disappointment of my failed relationship, get a job, save up, and move out!

How did I get from talking about Auto Zone to this? Well, we are talking about comfort zones. I was definitely far out of my comfort zone when I became a mom, a single mom at that. And I was not comfortable living with my parents when I knew that I needed to be standing on my own two feet, baby or no baby. Sure, it would have felt good to stay with them, eat their food, drive their cars, and not have any bills to pay- but would I have matured? Would I have learned how to be independent, self-sufficient, responsible, or strong? No. I grew more and learned more about life in those 20 months than I did in my four years of college.

So I am saying to you, that sure it feels good doing what you know to do and what you’re good at. It feels comfy living in the neighborhood you grew up in and know everyone, staying at a job where you’ve put in so many years and made so many connections and even going to work the same way each day— but get OUT of that zone! Step out of your comfort zone and be open to change. Do something new and different.

Take a chance. Apply for that job in an industry you’ve never worked in, move to a new city, go to that event-by yourself, even though you don’t know anyone that’s going to be there, date that dark-skinned guy even though you usually only date the Terrance Howard or Derek Jeter types, take a Zumba class even though you can’t dance… just do it. You never know what awaits you.  When you step out of your comfort zone and expand your horizon, you not only open yourself to new experiences or friendships, but new growth (you didn’t think that only applied to hair, did you?) You enrich your life. And in the end you become a BETTER you.  Isn’t that worth it?

I leave you with a Facebook post by my lil brother… hope it inspires you like it does me….Capture

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