I'm so excited to finally send this out to friends and family because I have started and stopped the project at least 5 times now. I hope you enjoy and thank you for reading - please email me and tell me what you think (good or bad), also send me topic ideas!
Since one of the main themes of this blog is sharing stories to inspire people to live life to the fullest, I feel a story about stepping outside your comfort zone is a great place to start. The following post details my most significant "stepping outside my comfort zone" moment I took at the end of 2013, and the energy it has given me to make 2014 my best year yet. I hope this inspires you to do something (big or small) outside your comfort zone.
December 10, 2013: Curacao Day 1 - Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone :
Today is a scary, yet quite exciting day. I have decided to take a last minute trip to Curacao, a small island known as one of the Dutch "ABC islands" (Aruba, Bonair, and Curacao), just off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. This is my first trip to Curacao as well as my first official vacation I'm taking on my own.
This decision came into play when I found myself feeling blue after a tough breakup that left me with a confused, broken heart and a canceled 3 week vacation to South Africa and Madagascar. I told my family and friends about the situation and mentioned to my boss that I would no longer be needing my time off. I spent two weeks talking to friends and family, who helped me talk through the things that were bothering me, let me cry, encouraged me to feel what I needed to feel, but also made me smile and laugh with their jokes and comfort. I am very lucky and thankful to have so many smart, positive, loving people in my life and as I started to really focus on what I do have (instead of what feels missing right now), I started to regain energy and optimism.
After talking to a good friend, she reminded me that going to a new place and doing something that scares me, typically makes me feel a lot better (and distracts my mind of the things I can't control). I thought Curacao would be a great destination as reviews mention the island to be friendly, safe, beautiful, exotic, and far away from all that I know, perfect characteristics for this vacation. I am thankful to have a boss that allowed me to reverse my canceled request for time off, so I hit purchase on the vacation website!
I set out in a cab at 3:45 AM in order to get to O'Hare airport by 4:30 (P.S. The airport security doesn't open until 4:45 AM). Never taken a flight that early, so good to know now. I get to my gate and board almost immediately. Off to Miami! Before I know it, I'm in Miami and have 2 hours to kill, so I went in search of a good beach read. I found "Beautiful Ruins," by Jess Walters. Supposed to be really good, says Amazon reviews. I purchase it, buy a water, find an ATM so I have some cash when I arrive in Curacao (they accept US dollars and local currency called the Guilder or Florin). Then I sit down at the gate and realize what I'm doing. I'm getting anxious; a flight to a vacation destination by myself. EEK! I start thinking, what if I make no friends, what if it's all couples and it makes me feel worse, what if I'm kidnapped, what if, what if? But then I tell myself to take a breath, you decided to do this. Own your decision and make the most of it. You will be OK! Hopefully more than OK! I board the plane...
I arrive in Curacao around 4PM - it's pouring rain. Great. What do I do now? My room isn't ready yet, so I walk around the hotel to check out the place that will be my new home for the next 6 nights, breathe in the fresh air and thank goodness I'm in a place that still looks like paradise in the pouring rain. I can't help thinking "I'm the only person that is traveling alone at this hotel; this was a bad decision; who's going to talk to me...." I know I shouldn't be thinking this way, I'm in paradise, but I can't deny them, so I let them be and then decide to tell myself instead: "These feelings will go away... You got yourself here; and again, you will be OK."
I check into my hotel room, lay down and realize, I am EXHAUSTED. I am definitely feeling a little out of my element, kind of lonely, not really sure what to do with myself. The only times I've traveled alone were day trips when I studied abroad in Europe and more recently for work. My gut tells me not to push myself to do anything; just be and listen to your body. I know this is a very rare occasion where I can literally do anything I want to do, so I make my first pact: I am going to listen to my intuition on this trip. I decide to order room service for dinner, read my book and go to sleep and hope that some good rest will re-energize me (and the sun) for a big first full day in Curacao.
What have you done to step outside your comfort zone? It's different for everyone, and whether it may seem big or small, it is a great accomplishment. Please share what you did and how you felt before, during or after you took the step. I will release the rest of my vacation adventure shortly: "Meeting someone you know you're supposed to meet." New characters, incredible adventures... the best part is yet to come:)