I sat in the waiting room at the edge of my seat, heart racing, minding my posture, rehearsing my elevator pitch, and recalling the helpful reminder from a friend, “confidence and poise.” It was the same friend, who disclosed earlier, his enjoyment of job interviews. I thought, what could anyone possibly like about the pressures and nerve wrecking experience that transpires within those four walls of a conference room?
He then explained that it was a great opportunity to share with a company all the great insights and skills that he had to offer. It sounds simple enough, but what really hit me was his firm conviction, matter of fact nature in that statement. It was an attitude that I lacked, not that I was unconfident in my skills, but that I lacked the eagerness to divulge and more importantly, the ability to acknowledge my comfort zone.
I found solace in isolation which occasionally involved social media and large social gathering avoidance. I was always a shy girl until one day, I decided that I no longer wanted to be on the outskirts of the group conversation and experiences. In this fierce job market, there is no room for a shy PR girl and so begun my journey to eliminate my comfort zone. I started off small, holding conversations with the barista who saw me often enough to remember my drink order, I attended live music performances alone and made it an obligation to communicate with those around me, I got back in touch with networks from college, and most importantly, I reminded myself everyday before leaving my place, to be open to the world.
An old Forbes article said it best:
“Only in giving up the security of the known can we create new opportunity, build capability, and grow influence. As we do, we expand the perimeter of our ‘Courage Zone’ and our confidence to take on bigger challenges in the future.”
It was a difficult task that I had to and continue to work on. Here are a few methods I used to eliminate my comfort zone:
A Strong Support System
I found it crucial to first openly communicate with close friends and family. They’re familiar with your life choices and are more adept at offering support when needed.
Having your support system reinforce your worth helps boost your confidence and steers away feelings of inadequacy. These feelings can make it difficult to put yourself out there and take risks.
In PR, we’re always consuming information within academia, the news, and on social media. In addition to doing so, I make it a duty to read books. It’s a great way to foster creativity and to kill time while on the subway or during a flight.
Escaping your comfort zone begins with self-examination. Acknowledge the socially anxious event and make the decision to dismantle it. Discover new alternatives to mundane activities and always remember to push yourself further.