How Blogging Has Forced Me Out Of My Comfort Zone

With a New Year just beginning, will you force yourself out of your comfort zone in 2012? Blogging has opened my heart and mind to take on challenges I would not have otherwise faced. Here are some of the ways blogging has forced me out of my comfort zone, and the lessons gained from overcoming my fears.

Surfing in Huntington Beach

Ready to take on a wave in Huntington Beach, California

Surfing
Could I sign up for surf lessons on my own? Of course. Would I? Probably not. I was the only person among 15 or so journalists on a press trip to accept the Huntington Beach Convention and Vistors Bureau’s offer of surf lessons. (To be fair, I was also 20+ years younger than most of the other attendees.) It’s easy to make excuses for not taking on challenges (not enough time, not enough money, not sure where to start), so when an opportunity is made easily available, take it! Also, I want to provide you, my readers, with an interesting story and if that story involves getting pummeled by the surf and risking getting smacked in the face with a surfboard, so be it.

Video Blogging
When I was first approached by Barilla about becoming a video blogger on their site, Piccolini.tv, my first thought was, “No freakin’ way.” I am chatty chatty chatty…until a video camera comes into site…then I smile uncomfortably with giant google eyes as I back away. After some thought I decided to view this intimidating opportunity as a gift. Recording footage for Piccolini would give me a video resume for future gigs and interview spots. The process of recording these 11 videos helped me to become much more comfortable in front of a video camera, an important skill for someone who hopes to someday be on the TODAY Show promoting her book!

Parasailing Cabo San Lucas

Parasailing in Cabo San Lucas with my good friend, Laurie Cooper, author of the Guessing All the Way blog

Parasailing
To daredevils, parasailing may not seem like the most extreme endeavor but I doubt I would have ever taken on this activity if I wasn’t a blogger. I was in Cabo San Lucas with a bunch of other bloggers chatting about parasailing and before I knew it I was on a boat convincing another gal that she should, no MUST, harness-up and join me for a flight over the Pacific’s waves. This proves it’s easier to tackle your fears with someone else. I had to be brave for my fellow blogger’s sake. And now I count that blogger among my close friends. Did I love parasailing? No. It made me kind of nauseous. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. There is something so empowering about being afraid of something and doing it anyway.

Teaching
I have always wanted to be a teacher. However, as someone with an aww-shucks-little-ol-me mentality (inherited from my parents of humble Finnish descent), standing in front of a classroom and sharing my “wisdom” seemed like a daunting feat. Since I started Travel Mamas in March 2009, I have jumped into things without much thought of where I might land. Rather than over-thinking and allowing myself to chicken out, as a blogger I have learned to act first, worry later. I got the idea for teaching a blogging class one night while I brushed my teeth; I outlined the course while lying in bed; the next day I pitched the course via email to the president of San Diego Writers, Ink.

When I did not hear back from him, I thought, “Do not give up.” Instead I approached my former writing teacher who was a past board member of the organization and asked if she could help me get my foot in the door. I have now taught a multi-week “Blogging 101″ class twice through this school. This helped me to land another teaching gig for an “Art and Business of Blogging” course through the University of California San Diego Extension. It really is a dream come true for me.

Bloggers at Disney's Aulani

Networking in paradise at Disney’s Aulani Resort

Networking
If you met me, you would think I am naturally outgoing. You would be wrong. My way of dealing with my shyness is to act very confident and talk A LOT. Here’s the difference between a truly outgoing person (my husband) and a person who forces herself to be outgoing (me). He is never nervous before going to a party or talking to new people (I always am). For him, a good time is giving a speech to a group of 300 people (crazy, right?!).

I used to go to an event where I knew no one, a writers conference or press trip, for example, and feel like I was on crack. Not that I know what it feels like to be on crack, but I assume it is rather jittery and hyped up and overwhelming, which leads me to wonder why people like crack. My point is, forcing myself to attend these events despite my trepidation has led me to feel almost comfortable before venturing into the social unknown. Now I even take it a step further. I push myself to make the ask. I ask what I need to do to write for their magazine. I ask about being featured on their TV program. I ask about visiting their location on a comped media trip. The worst they can do is say no. But often, they say yes.

Skiing at Keystone Resort

Skiing at Keystone Resort with my instructor, Jim Keens

Skiing
The second time I tried skiing (at age 14 or so), I vowed never to do it again. To get to the bottom of a particularly steep hill packed with daredevil skiers, I took off my skis and scooted down on my butt with tears in my eyes. (I’m not proud.) But when presented with an opportunity to ski at Keystone Mountain, I thought, “What do I have to lose?” Coming from sea level up to mountain heights and skiing all day was exhausting, frightening, and exhilarating. Giving skiing another chance, this time with a ski instructor to teach me, made me realize that I was not a horrible skier, I just needed a little guidance.

Going on TV
My latest foray into the world of uncomfortability was my appearance on the local San Diego newsI find the best way to approach anything scary is to act like it’s not scary at all. My faking it worked; I seemed so at-ease that the news staff assumed I had been on TV before. Just like with the rest of these achievements, now that I have done it, I feel more sure of myself and ready to take on bigger and better challenges.

Think of all the joy and opportunities I would have missed if I let a little thing like fear get in my way! Looking back on these accomplishments makes me wonder, what else could I take on? I can’t wait to see what other terrifying and wondrous adventures await me in 2012!

How have you stepped out of your comfort zone? Did it make you feel more self-assured? Tell us about it in the comments!

Comments

  1. I loved this post, Colleen! You did have some great adventures and took on some great challenges in 2011… and I particularly like that pic of us at Aulani. :-)

  2. Thanks, Kara! The pic of all of us at Aulani picture looks so dang heavenly, huh?! I could use a few days hanging with my blogging buddies in paradise right about now!

  3. Colleen – This is such a great post and I love it even more having met you in person! I have a lot of the same thoughts you do about being nervous or scared. I am very good at pretending to be the most confident person in the room! You have tried several things that are on my list of adventures to finally try (parasailing and surfing) and I laughed out loud when I read your video paragraph because I am the same way. I have been trying to do some video lately for my site and all I do is giggle in front of the camera. I am working through it though! ;-)

  4. Jen – If we just keep pretending, eventually it will be true…right?! I can’t wait to see your mad video blogging skills. Please send me a link when you’ve got a video live!

  5. Wow, Colleen, that was some year! I think you can safely say that you don’t have any trouble stepping outside your comfort zone anymore! I just made my own tiny little step outside my comfort zone – also thanks to blogging. We were going to Orlando after Christmas and my older daughter desperately wanted me to agree to ride the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride with her. I don’t do rides and in the past would have simply said “No way” but my husband commented that I owed it to my readers to go on the ride. So I did. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely not! but I’m glad I did it. Hopefully I’ll be able to be more open-minded about new things in the future.

  6. I had never considered this aspect of blogging before… We’re new at this so hadn’t anticipated such changes. Any regrets?

  7. Lisa & Kara – I must confess…not ALL of these adventures took place in 2011. But all of these DID happen because of my role as a blogger. Way to step out of your comfort zone, Lisa! Feels empowering, huh?

  8. Lane – I didn’t realize blogging would be such a catalyst for facing my fears either but I’m glad it’s worked out that way. I don’t regret anything about my blogging career thus far. If I was going to do it over again, I would have signed up for a class on how to create blog or attended more blogging conferences early on so I could have avoided learning so many lessons the hard way. I suppose like anything else, you learn as you go so I am still learning every day! Welcome to the wonderful and wacky world of blogging!

  9. Right on! I can totally relate to faking it until you make it; believe it or not, as much as I talk at conferences, I’m always second-guessing myself and forcing myself to talk to strangers.

    As for blogging, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without it. It’s given me a chance to follow a dream.

    Thanks for a great post!

  10. Sandra – Not to overstate this but, wondering what it would be like not to have my blog is almost like wondering what it would be like if I’d never become a mom. Sure, it’d be easier and sometimes I wonder what the heck I’ve gotten myself into…but I love it and would feel a gaping hole in my life without it!

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