This is how well my half marathon training is going

These are things I’ve done this week:

  • Discovered where my nearest Hobbycraft store is.
  • Played about with beads and pins and polystyrene balls.
  • Watched Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Bought a new bike.
  • Bought a superior bike lock.
  • Learnt how to play Werewolves.
  • Picked a new housemate.
  • Become the owner of a pair of skinny jeans that don’t have an elasticated waistband.
  • Made a bake-off inspired cardamom, coffee and pistachio swiss roll with my friends.
  • Learnt that it’s cardamom and not cardamon.
  • Crocheted a lot.
  • Discovered that blush wine is a thing.
  • Learnt that I like blush wine.

 

These are the things I haven’t done this week:

  • Gone for a run.

Feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

Your comfort zone isn't static, it can be stretched as you do more things that scare you.

Your comfort zone isn’t static, it can be stretched as you do more things that scare you.

The other week, I was asked to do something at work that I really didn’t want to do. It isn’t technically part of my job, so I had no obligation to do it, except that there was nobody else and it was a friend asking me, so of course I agreed. This is how I found myself in front of a conference room full of people who were new to the organisation, leading a session about campaigning to bring about change. And you know what? I loved it. Even though I felt ill at the prospect of having to do something like that, I left the room with a big smile on my face.

One of the things that I know to be true is that feeling scared about something is a sign that you need to do it. I believe this because some of the most valuable experiences of my life have happened when I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone.

  • When I let somebody at university persuade me to stand as chairperson for the People & Planet group, and I discovered that I wanted a career in a campaigning organisation.
  • When I left my friends and family behind to spend six months working for a charity in India, and grew into the person I am today.
  • When I took a job as a life model and learnt to accept my body as beautiful: cellulite, scars and all.
  • When I applied for a job at an organisation I’d always dreamt of working for, and got it.
  • When I went to Alive in Berlin on my own, and came away having found my tribe of people and made some amazing friends.

This year, this project, is all about stepping out of my comfort zone. I don’t want to be fearless. I want to do at least one thing a week where I feel fear, but I do it anyway.

Over the past week, I’ve done the following things that scare me:

  • I’ve signed up to run the Oxford Half Marathon. I’ve also told a lot of people, so I can’t back out of it now.
  • Wanting to incorporate my writing into my personal brand and body of work, I added this blog to my LinkedIn profile. Scary to think that people who know me professionally might also read this post.
  • I took the lead in finding a new housemate: arranging viewings and showing people round. Meeting new people terrifies me, especially in a context when you’re each judging the other.
  • I overcame the fear that nobody would want to come, and planned a celebration for my birthday. (People did come. It was awesome.)

How about you? When have you stepped out of your comfort zone and been rewarded? What have you done recently that scares you?

Fear and Stories

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Fear is simultaneously an appalling and amazing thing. Nobody should have to fear for their life or the life of their family, and far too many people in the world do.

But a little fear can be a good thing. Fear of failure might motivate you to study for an exam. Fear of being alone might help you take the risk and ask someone on a date, or lean in for that first kiss. Fear of mediocrity might make you try harder at your job, or leave to follow your passion.

Me? I fear not having a story to tell. My life has been a little up and down since I graduated (and had the freedom to “design my own life”). During those past four years I’ve had six different homes, lived in two different countries and worked in four different jobs – plus six months travelling/volunteering and a brief sideline as a life model. I’ve fallen in love, made some of the most amazing friends and travelled to some spectacular places. I’ve also had a few unwise friendships, too many drunken mishaps and spent too much money.

But I don’t regret anything. Because when I meet up with someone I haven’t seen in a little while, and they ask me how I am, I always have a good story to tell, and I enjoy telling it (usually for laughs).

My greatest fear is that when someone says ‘What have you been up to?’ I answer ‘Not much.’ When that happens, I know it’s time to move on.