Many self-doubts stem from moving outside one’s comfort zone. We have been conditioned to seek and build comfort, safety, and a secure future. But in that process, we lose the ability to know ourselves and our limits honestly. In turn, we restrict the size of our comfort zone. I didn’t take many risks growing up, one because my Mom was a little overzealous (I love you, Mom!) and two because I was afraid of everything! I started having insomnia and anxiety at the age of 12. It was an average level of anxiety for the most part. Failing classes, disappointing my parents and friends, not being the most popular kid in school...you know, the normal fears many teenagers face. But I was wasn't really encouraged to take risks to move past any of the fears. I held two jobs during high school and even started college classes during high school. I graduated high school early and began working full-time while attending a community college. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started taking a few risks - like meeting my future husband while playing an online game of Yahoo! pool, traveling to meet him, then moving 1,500 miles away to live with him, but that was 13 years ago, and I can say that we have been happily married for over 9 of those years. I jumped at the chance to move away from my entire family, friends, and the only life I had known to be with him. Yet, I remember being so afraid that it wouldn’t work out between the two of us that I didn’t unpack my belongings for the first six months that we lived together. So why was I so scared after I had already taken all of the other risks? It was because I expanded my comfort zone so much that I didn’t feel like I had a safety net to fall into anymore.
I had the same feeling when my husband and I left Maryland to move to Massachusetts, then again when we left Massachusetts and moved to Texas, and then yet again when we left Texas to move to Oregon and then to Washington (at least I can say that I have seen most of the country!). It was something new and exciting. Then reality set in, and I knew that I took a risk and didn’t calculate every step and scenario of it. But each time the risks were worth the reward. I have grown so much mentally and spiritually with each move.
During that time, I was introduced to Humane Education and found an immense correlation between risks and expanding my comfort zone. The classes I took and the subjects that were covered were like diving into deep waters. You didn’t know what you would find once you broke the glittering glasslike surface. Human trafficking, racism, rape, slavery, environmental degradation, pollution, ecological poisoning, animal abuse, animal slaughter, and seeing a culture that not only accepts this but encourages and strives for it. These waters became dark and murky, very quickly. But I had a life vest - my comfort zone. I allowed myself to take in, process and understand the information and allowed it to expand my knowledge. I stepped outside of my comfort zone to learn and grow. Just like I did when I took a chance to move in with a person I had only spent a handful of days with and just like I did when I moved around the country. Stepping outside of your comfort zone or taking a risk doesn’t imply imminent failure. As I explore more of these humane education issues, I ask you to step outside of your comfort zone and explore them with me. It will be difficult, it will challenge some of your current beliefs, it may offend you, and it may even cause you to change the way you view the world. But without risk, there is no reward. The reward here is in the knowledge you will gain, and with the knowledge, you will be empowered to act. Expanding my comfort zone to include information about the horrific things going on in this world is still scary, but I also know that I have the means to help change many things.
And you do as well.