From the Heart: Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations With God series, says: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” The quote is on a refrigerator magnet that reminds me daily of that wisdom.

There are lots of people who naturally thrive on adventure, adrenaline, and taking risks. I am not one of them. I have had to learn to be more that way.

I was raised to be afraid of nearly everything: thunder, lightning, too much attention, not enough attention, cats with claws, diseases with claws … you get the point.

As an introvert and deeply closeted gay kid, I hid in the back of the class. It was risky to speak up … to voice an opinion that might create conflict or put the focus on me. What if I was right? What if I was wrong? What if they guessed I liked other boys?

I grew up in a family that experienced bankruptcy and other uncertainty. I didn’t always know if what we had would be taken away — not just money but utilities, benefits, insurance and peace of mind. I grew up in a blue-collar town where I didn't feel safe being who I was.

In many ways, it made me err on the side of caution and security. I surveyed the landscape or room before entering. I gravitated toward just those I trusted. I stayed in some jobs way too long because I was too afraid to leave and face the unknown. I was careful and conservative with money — maybe too much so — because I had seen and feared the alternative.