In order to answer these and other similar questions, you need to know yourself and be able to identify what you like and what you don’t like. How do you figure these things out? Many people, myself included, are experiential learners. You learn by doing and experiencing things first hand – visit the place, watch the show, taste the food, participate in the activity. Learning by doing can be unnerving. It’s scary to try something new. The lack of familiarity and the uncertainty of the outcome can be a strong deterrent.
When I first started stepping out of my comfort zone, I felt uneasy and extremely nervous. I over-thought these novel situations and wondered what other people thought of me when they saw me. I felt incredibly self-conscious. However, during each of these experiences I learned something about myself. Despite my discomfort, I knew I was benefiting because I was developing a stronger sense of self, and although I sometimes didn’t feel up for it, I continued to push myself beyond my comfort zone, which was slowly expanding.
Change often occurs when trying something new, and as a result, experiential learning often generates change in some way. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone brings the challenge of adjusting to change, which can seem daunting. Nevertheless, with repetitive practice, your comfort zone gradually expands, bolstering self-awareness, as well as a concrete sense of self.
It’s completely normal to feel uncertain and to lack self-confidence. I encourage you to build a stronger sense of self by stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things. Luckily, the word try doesn’t mean permanent, but is defined as more of a test, to examine something such as a situation or yourself. Although I still sometimes feel nervous when trying new things, I’m not nearly as timid as before. Consequently, I’m able to confidently convey my likes and dislikes, and if I am unsure of my response, I realize that I just have some more self-exploration to do.
Katie Anson, MA, LPC