I leaped!! It was scary, but I didn't fall. I recently visited a good friend, Loretta, in NOLA for my first Mardi Gras experience. While there, I took a big leap stepping out of my comfort zone by dressing up for the parade. It's always fascinating to me as some people see me as being very adventurous - hugging strangers, racing sailboats, while others might see me as playing it safe and not stepping out of my comfort zone enough. When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and took a leap?
While I am an extrovert, standing out in a crowd is NOT in my comfort zone. I liken Loretta to an extrovert on steroids, which by the way, is meant as a good thing as she is so much fun! :) She marches in NOLA parades with a krewe, so dressing up and standing out is easy and comfortable for her. Loretta told me that lots of people dress up for the parades, so I would fit in more than stand out. I agreed to give it a try... an uncomfortable try, but still a try.
Although most people weren't dressed up, at least in the area that we stood, it was lots of fun, and I received lots of compliments on my headdress, including people marching in the parade. While I didn't march in a parade, I did step out of my comfort zone, and I was glad I did!
Along with the headdress making me uncomfortable, I didn't know what to expect at the parade. Loretta kept telling me that until you experience a Mardi Gras parade, you really can't know what to expect, and she sure was right! New Orleans LOVES their parades, and there were two on the same day I attended.
Being vertically challenged, parades aren't my thing. I usually can't really see the floats, so I went in with low expectations other than knowing spending time with Loretta is fun. What I experienced to what I expected were completely different.
1. We had a great spot to watch the parade, so I saw everything up close without waiting
hours ahead to get a good spot.
2. I thought you had to flash to get beads... nope. Each float is filled with beads and other things they throw into the crowd (FYI - beads HURT when they hit you on the head) as they are thrown.
3. I thought the parades were in the French Quarter.... nope. While smaller parades happen in the French Quarter, the big ones occur in Uptown as the floats are too big for the FQ.
4. I expected it to be a drunken fest, and while there were lots of people that were just that, there were far more local friends and families attending the festivities and celebrating their city. I met a sweet woman who said she's been coming to the parades since she was two, and the parades are highlights of the year.
The moral of the story is I took the leap out of my comfort zone and landed sure-footed, enjoying the experience even though it was uncomfortable.
As your kindness coach, I invite you to leap (or step) out of your comfort zone by:
Listening to your heart. Your heart will tell you if it's a slight discomfort that you should do to expand your horizons or if it is truly not for you. If I hated the idea of dressing up, I wouldn't have done it; I was just nervous about doing it. Make sense?
Switching up your routine. Be willing to see things and do things differently from your normal routine. Wear something different than your normal outfit. Take a new route to work. Eat at a new restaurant that you wouldn't normally visit. Do something small each day that isn't in your normal daily routine.
Feeling your fears and doing it anyway. When I decided to wear the headdress, my fears didn't magically go away, but I did it anyway as I knew they were false fears. It wasn't a true safety fear but rather a fear of being different from I am. Your fears won't LOVE too, so be gentle with yourself. Other times your fears are truly there to keep you safe, you know, that nudge you get on not going there because it feels unsafe.
Remembering you are doing it for YOU and not others. There will always be people in your life far more adventurous than you and people who play it safe more than you. The point of stepping out of your comfort zone is to stretch yourself for YOU and not others.
Mostly, I encourage you to lean into the possibility of what's on the other side of your comfort zone. You may try it and LOVE it; You may try it and realize it's not for you, but the point is YOU DID IT! Only you can determine if it's worth the discomfort or not.
Until next time, LIVE your life and catch the beads!
I leap daily into deeper LOVE of myself, others, and life.
Words to LOVE by:
"To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can." - Og Mandino
"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown." - Denis Waitley
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." - Brian Tracy