BLOG POST: BREAKING THE COMFORT ZONE

BREAKING THE COMFORT ZONE

     I must confess: I am guilty of contradiction! How may you ask? Quite simply, I have allowed the preacher side of my professional side of life to not filter into my private side. Yesterday was a rather eye-opening day and one that made me strongly consider just how vital it is I break these contradictions that I have allowed to creep into my habits.  

      A ‘Comfort Zone’ can be so crippling and scary to break. You need to not fear brilliance, be brave and allow your voice to be heard, not just by you, but by others as well. Last night I was able to share in an awesome time with some work colleagues, celebrating the successful completion of a particular chapter in the calendar. While I am still haunted by cups, table tennis balls, and flashes of cards condemning me to liquid punishment, this hint of a moment led to inspiring this little piece.

     Considering the severity of the liquid punishment that had been allowed to be digested into my system, I was required to recuperate by sleeping on a couch at my friend’s place. The unfamiliarity of the venue had me spooked – I couldn’t sleep. The creaking sounds of the walls, floors and ceiling caused by movements from above in the two-story apartment and the wild wind violently rattling the glass doors and windows had me on edge. Needless to say, that after a shorter period of time than perhaps was needed, I ensured I made my way back to my safety net – my own bed!  Let me explain how this all leads to being contradictive and how yesterday may have been an awakening to why I am stuck in my ‘Comfort Zone’.

    Firstly, I am guilty of the inability to stand up and be heard. So many times, I have words hovering at the back of my throat, wanting so desperately to be released, yet they remain unheard. This can relate to my feelings in most cases, but in general, its usually about my deepest desires of life and what I want from it. Yet every day, I encourage hundreds of young minds to be confident, to take risks and speak up; be heard, experience all they can from life.

    Having the opportunity to share my morning coffee with a friend of mine from F45 was an inspiring experience. As discussion brewed, we filtered it towards a fundraising venture he was a large supporter of: The Polished Man – a campaign that raises awareness of violence towards children. The stats are horrifying, the issue saddening, but this man wants to make a stand and ensure not only that enough money is raised, but also the awareness alone enhances the possibility of these numbers being heavily reduced. He wants the silent voices to be heard.

     Secondly, I am guilty of not being brave. Procrastination is a major flaw in my armoury. A weakness that disables the smallest opportunities being the most fulfilling beginnings or experiences; I won’t allow my safety bubble to burst. This is what has me lingering in the lifestyle of a single and sometimes lonely bachelour. Watching the girl of my dreams sail past on a rather well propelled boat and disappearing into the sunset has haunted me many times; again, I have allowed that boat to sail away.  

    Bravery to express one’s feelings is a behaviour so many people struggle to act upon. What I admire about my friends is their ability to give. One of my mates is one who’s heart pumps out gifts of selfless acts regularly. None more important than the act he is providing his sister at this moment. While she battles an illness that has taken many before their time, he has stepped up and said: ‘You need someone to be brave with you: Let me join the fight!’

    So that he did, shaving his head (#shavedave) to raise money to help support her medical needs. How is this brave you may ask? Sacrificing personal appearance, even showing support to someone in need is a brave act. It is easy to just walk away from a fight that is not yours, but to take it on and wrestle it by the horns can be the support someone needs to overcome tough times. In a world where superficiality blinds believability, he looked beyond the layers of shallowness and made a self-sacrifice to help someone so dear to him. To me, this is the true definition of bravery.

     Unlike my ‘wallowing in self-pity’ personal life, my boat that relates to my professional life seems to be banked on a deserted island. I’m am forged deep in the furniture of my work place to the point where I seem to wipe a fragment of dust off my shoulder each day, while I watch everyone around me seem to grow. Fresh branches of green leaves radiate of my students and fellow colleagues while my roots seem firmly stuck in the ground. This, as another mate pointed at to me, is another example of making a safe decision, not a brave one.

    Thirdly, I am guilty of fearing being brilliant. To be brilliant, you need to provide yourself a challenge; a motivating goal of sorts, that lifts you from off the canvas and has you towering over your fears and celebrating the success you desperately dream about. I am always amazed how people seem to scoff at others and their successes, yet they underappreciate the facts of how they got there.

       My fellow colleague and Drama teacher at school is not going to deny that the first half of the year has been tough. While she works tireless to help inspire kids to reach their full potential, I see her grow even stronger as a teacher and leader each day. The countless, unrewarded hours she puts in to ensure the success of her students in simply brilliant. Even when her efforts are spat back in the face by the cruel curse of mediocrity, she finds ways to cure the curse and allow excellence to shine radiantly and success to endure. To do the unrewarded sacrifice is to be brave, one that I deeply admire.

    Further on from this, a student of mine was doing an activity where I intentionally placed her in a group away from her friend. ‘How could you be so mean, Mr Princi!’ That’s what most students, even enabling parents would suggest to this act of teaching. The student had two options: Be Brave – Participate to progress (the Strong Decision) or chose to act using her emotions and not to participate (the Weak Decision).

   ‘Play is the Way’ is a great program that teaches young students so many important life and wellbeing skills through the act of play. Many schools have implemented it into their routine and follow the lingo with great success and transformation. This was no exception! She reluctantly chose the strong decision and slowly her level of productivity evolved. At the end of the activity I asked the group whether she had been successful?

     Once I deciphered whether or not the confused looks meant brain function was contemplating working or had gone into freeze mode, I helped to guide them that, yes, she had. She had broken the boundaries of her comfort zone, chosen to participate with people she did not know, or trust, and displayed an increase in her self-confidence. She could not fail as she was participating and would either excel at the activity or learn how to excel at the activity. She could only get better! The reward she presented me that day was all I needed from the experience; a simple, intangible gift: The smile that bloomed on her face when she realised what she had achieved.

     All this in a day’s work! Not for the people I have spoken about, but for me it was a day of pondering weakness. How come these people have the power to act, I don’t? The one place I seem to be able to conquer my acts of contradiction is when I write. I am fearless with the words and phrases I place on my blank canvas and allow creativity to manipulate into something special – I aim for brilliance and will not stop until I have reached the limits of my capabilities.  I am brave, as the feelings that I hold clutched to my chest are unleashed onto the page and into my characters; a way to help release the internal pain and suffering that cripples me within. And, finally, it allows my voice to be heard.

      When I post this blog, only few people will read it, but at least one person has heard my voice. No one will see the time it took to plan, create, proof read and post it onto my page, but they will be able to tell by how I have written it whether or not I achieved my purpose (or readers perceived interpretation of the purpose). 

      Whenever you share a bit of your personal thoughts feelings, you are brave. Today I get to say I was making progress in making more decisions promoting growth. Today, I have made the decision I need to chase that boat before it disappears into the sunset. Today I have made the decision to do that course I need to get better with my writing and help stimulate the stunted growth of my art. Today, I make that call to explore other opportunities in my professional field. Today I start moving out of my comfort zone.

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