Author: Beth Brown
I’ve been thinking a lot about being scared recently.
When I experienced anxiety in late 2019 and early 2020, my biggest fear became falling back into that state. It seemed to come from nowhere and it hit me like a truck. Suddenly, my greatest fear was fear itself and no matter how hard I tried to convinced myself that it was irrational, the seemingly impromptu nature of the anxiety only increased my fear of it coming back because I couldn’t work out why it had popped in to say hi in the first place.
I know now that there were reasons: I’d let myself become overrun with stress and I hadn’t noticed the signs, I was going down a path that wasn’t meant for me and, seemingly overnight, I couldn’t take it anymore. When you’re in an anxious state, things that used to seem easy suddenly feel extremely difficult; I would overthink everything until it was plagued with panic. Although I’m no longer in that place, with everything going on in the world at the moment, I do feel myself doing that again every now and again. Things that used to seem easy pre-covid do seem daunting now.
A very wise of friend of mine said something to me the other day that seemed to click. She told me that she thought her comfort zone had shrunk this past year because she hadn’t been pushing herself out of it as often with lockdown, restrictions, and 2020 life. I have to agree with her.
An example of this for me is travelling. I’ve struggled with planes since having my first panic attack on one in 2016, but I managed to push myself out of my comfort zone a few times a year for the sake of reaching that destination and doing something I love: experiencing new places. Even if I felt that inevitable dread when sitting down on the plane and watching them lock the doors, I could remind myself that I’d done this before, I’d been ok, and after a little while I would relax. I haven’t been able to push myself in that area because of travel restrictions for a year now, and its slowly taking its toll. Despite wanting desperately to travel, I’m nervous about getting on a plane again.
Similarly, things like going to the theatre, or even sitting in assemblies at work haven’t been able to happen all year; both of which are points of panic and opportunities to push out of my comfort zone. (If you aren’t getting the general theme yet, I struggle with feeling trapped in crowded places).
“I have realized; it is during the times I am far outside my element that I experience myself the most. That I see and feel who I really am, the most! Because it’s during those scary moments, those unsure steps taken… I discover a smile I didn’t know I had, I uncover a feeling that I didn’t know existed in me... I see myself.”
— C. JoyBell
Contrary to its name, the comfort zone is anything but pleasant. It’s is an invisible shackle to complacency and to the inevitability of ‘what if?’.
Despite the fear. I know that I will continue to push myself out of that glass barrier of comfort. I want to feel challenged, to experience that fear melting into wonder, to discover things that I have yet to see. I want to live my life to the fullest, and to not struggle with regret.
I picked a few pictures for this blogpost that remind me of the times I pushed myself and had an amazing time once I’d broken past the fear. The first is at Arenal Waterfall in Costa Rica (where I traveled when I was only 17 for 3 weeks), the second is at the top of Nohuch Mul Pyramid in Mexico (the tallest Maya Pyramid at 137ft that I climbed in the rain despite the lack of any safety equipment), the third is on Brooklyn Bridge in New York (I was super panicked to even get on the plane), and the fourth is also in New York on the subway (the train got stuck for a few minutes and I felt like I desperately needed to get out but stuck it out until we reached our stop).
Perhaps I need to start out slowly (not start with climbing an ancient pyramid), but push and poke at the zone little by little until it expands and hopefully, when the world is back to normal, I’ll be ready for it too.
Until next time x
You can find more from Girl on Pause at www.girlonpause.com or keep up to date with my attempts to romanticise every-day life on my Instagram: @girlonpause and my new Facebook page ‘Girl on Pause’.