I’ve spent the majority of my life dreading social situations, evaluating my performance in conversations, and second-guessing how others perceive me. I embraced my anxiety as an unchangeable aspect in my life and used it as a crutch when I wanted to avoid something that made me feel uncomfortable. I’d figure, “This is something that makes me stress or worry, so I shouldn’t put myself through that experience.”
What I didn’t realize was how harmful it was for me to become so comfortable in my ways. I once read somewhere that our comfort zones are constantly changing—they are always in the process of expanding or contracting. For a while I let mine contract, and it stopped me from experiencing so many things.
So, how do you go about expanding a comfort zone? For me, it meant saying yes more often. “Yes” to a party or date, “yes” to the new job opportunity, “yes” to posting on my blog, “yes” to any invitation to try something new.
Be realistic—don’t overwhelm yourself by agreeing to too much. It’s okay to say no sometimes, too. Sometimes you need alone time, or you just really don’t want to do whatever it is you’re invited to do. Learn to identify why you want to say no—are you tired, overwhelmed, uninterested, scared, or nervous? There have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to say no but instead said yes…and you know what? I have never regretted it. The more you expose yourself to what scares you, the easier it gets the next time around—you’re expanding your comfort zone. This year, let’s try to say yes more often.