Free yourself from the chains of your comfort zone and live your best life
I am no superman. Growing up as a child in Southern Italy I was an introvert, solitary loner who never wanted to waste time playing one of the most masculine and popular sports of the country, and was always relegated by my better-performing pals to the infamous role of the goalie — the shameful role for the misfits, the weak ones, the too sensitive types. Far from the action, I was standing by myself for most of the game, entertained by my thoughts about life, poems that I was composing on the spot about dreams, feelings, and imaginary girlfriends — enjoying my comfort zone.
I was always very mindful of avoiding challenges as much as I could. I didn’t excel in school, either. Not that I was a bad student — I was quietly floating in a still pond of average. I was doomed to live a comfortable, predictable, uneventful life. Until I jumped out of my Comfort Zone, and that changed my life.
There is no rule of thumb to find the way out of your comfort zone. I was lucky enough to find mine in my mid-twenties, but I am sure that many of you can do even better — or probably have already done so. All you need to do is to expose yourself to one simple disruptive event that will lead you to a point of no return. As for me, I found mine on a bus in Rome.
Public transportation in Rome houses a diverse range of urban animals, from college students to tourists and white-collar workers. While passing by the decadent ancient ruins of the Eternal City aboard of the bus no. 62, uncomfortably squished between a dandy in suit and tie and a local, warm, large-sized lady, I found her.
She was sitting in the middle of the bus, staring at me with those eyes that encourage you to reach out and engage. I felt both hunter and hunted by those eyes at the same time. The bus kept going on till the last stop. Time to get off. To my disadvantage, she was accompanied by a friend of her. The two young ladies head towards a public square and make it to a bench. I am only a few feet behind, gasping for the excitement and trying to contain myself. I am scared to death, but eager to talk to her. I am banging against the wall of my comfort zone.
I awkwardly stand in front of her, and start a conversation with the silliest of the excuses. I don’t recall if she was annoyed by my presence or amused by my fearless approach. I managed to get in touch with her, and after a few months we were dating. But I didn’t go too long until I found myself in front of another challenge: she asked me to move to America with her. No time to think, barely enough to make a decision.
Since then, I moved with her to Arizona for her PhD, married her, worked my way up from a restaurant job to a corporate career and I now share with her the wonderful gift of parenthood. All the above while living in a foreign country and speaking in a foreign language.
I would have never been able to do all that I am doing if I didn’t approach her that day. Jumping out of my comfort zone, so abruptly, so fast, and so shamelessly is still paying out to me. Whenever I am facing a new challenge, I remind myself of how I met my wife, and I dive head first out of my comfort zone. I am living my best life. And so can you.
Read this and you’ll jump out of your comfort zone was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.