OPINION – Some people are born with a desire to wander. I’m not one of them.
As a small child, I remember our family car breaking down far from home and thinking that we were destined to start a new life with only the clothes on our backs. My folks got a good chuckle out of that.
As a homebody, I enjoyed visiting new places but still felt most secure in familiar surroundings. When I moved away from my hometown of Salt Lake City at age 11, I was sure that life could never be as good where we were going.
Of course that was before I learned that most boys my age in Southern Idaho had their own .22-caliber rifle or a motorbike or both.
In time, I became accustomed to living in a rural area and decided urban living was not my thing.
My first real step out of the comfort zone came when I arrived as a missionary in Oklahoma. I had prayed that I would be assigned to a quiet, rural community but fate had other ideas.
The next morning I was on a Greyhound bus to Oklahoma City.
As much as I initially did not want to be there, the 13 months I spent in Oklahoma City were a true turning point in my life.
I met and learned to love a great variety of people from every walk and circumstance of life. I was thrown into situations that I never could have anticipated.
Most importantly, this experience taught me how to see the world through new eyes and how to get along in it without my traditional support systems.
Upon returning home, I enrolled in college, met my wife and started a family. Life was becoming very comfortable again.
When the opportunity arose to look into a different radio job in Southern Utah, I could come up with many reasons why it would make no sense to move away.
Our two girls were still babies. We had a lovely, albeit tiny, home. Both of our families lived nearby. We were deep in the comfort zone.
On the other hand, we had no family waiting in Southern Utah. We were unknown to anyone. The job I was being offered entailed much greater responsibility for roughly the same pay I was already making.
Still, something in our hearts insisted that this was something we needed to do. We took a giant step of faith into the unknown and made the move.
In so doing, we stripped away a layer of expectations that had been imposed upon us by ourselves and by others and found ourselves underneath.
Our move brought us closer as a young family since we had to depend upon each other and not the support of other family members. We marveled as new friends and acquaintances came into our lives and door after door opened to us.
Within just a few short years, our lives had changed very much for the better.
Though at first it felt like a terrifying adventure, it was positively the best thing we could have done.
A few years later, we were given another opportunity to leave the comfort zone and to grow once again. While it was still a terrifying experience on some levels, I found it becoming easier to summon the courage to leave the familiar for the unknown.
This time it involved stepping off the career path and committing to a much deeper classical education.
As I studied the ideas of some of the most exceptional lives in history, I found that all great leaders, at some point, found the courage to leave their comfort zones.
This is not the same thing as simply running away from one’s commitments. It’s a willingness to free yourself from your own web of expectations in order to discover strengths within yourself that are yet unknown.
The best men and women of history all have shared this trait.
Leaving the comfort zone is a marvelous way to build confidence in our ability to do hard things; especially when the odds are not in our favor.
It also is a legitimate way to build personal courage. This means refining our ability to make decisions and then to hold to them even when feeling genuine fear.
Building confidence and courage are part of a process. Any time we marvel at someone showing courage in the face of adversity, it’s a safe bet that they’ve been working at it consistently for some time.
You’re doing it right when you recognize that you’re becoming a better person for having refused to remain in the comfort zone.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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