I remember it well. I was in the 9th grade. I was so shy, even introverted. I hated myself. I wanted change, I wanted to like myself, to be comfortable in my own skin. But how? I was taking a class in psychology. The teacher was telling us how we have an imaginary circle around us, our comfort zone. If we want to change any aspect of who we are, we need to step out of the space that we feel comfortable in.
I decided to pick one thing that made me feel uncomfortable and change that. It took me several months, but I worked on that one thing. It worked. I had increased my comfort zone. Then I chose another thing. I wanted to learn to water ski but didn't know how to swim. I taught myself how to swim so I could feel comfortable in the water and learn to water ski. I did. Then a friend talked me into trying out for the drillteam. I had thought that I would not make it (I had no dance experience), but it was stepping outside my comfort zone. To my surprise, I make the drillteam! I didn't think I was college material, but I applied, was accepted, and eventually graduated.
I have made a life time of stepping out of my comfort zone. I am, by nature, a shy, introverted person who doesn't like to try new things, but people who know me today find this hard to believe. It has become second nature to me to try things I find difficult, hard, uncomfortable. Is it still hard for me? Extremely. But it is this habit that I began in my early teens, that I believe gave me the courage to walk away from a dysfunctional marriage, an abusive church/organization. To begin a a career at the age of 40, to buy a home on my own for the first time at the age of 40ish.
I am often perplexed when I see others who are fearful of making these huge life decisions at this life stage. I see that their life choices are not working for them and wonder why they would prefer to stay stuck rather than step out of their comfort zone. I have to remind myself that they have not made a life of stepping out of their comfort zone, and even though I have made a life of it, I still have a difficult time stepping out, it is uncomfortable, unsettling, even painful.
My comfort zone has expanded, my confidence in my self has expanded over the years, and my self-esteem has expanded.