Why stepping out of your comfort zone is an important & ageless practice.

Do you ever feel too old? When was the point in our lives when we became too old for stuff? It seems like a blurry memory of some point in my mid 20’s when I felt like it for the first time. When you’ve transitioned into being a proper grown up, you’re supposed to have it together, earn respect and NOT FAIL OR LOOK STUPID! Wow thats a lot of pressure! Whoever told us that this was the order of things anyway?! It kinda sucks and I never signed up for that.

Here’s the thing though, it’s bulls**t. I’d like to see the rule book this is written in but no such rule book exists! It’s an idea we have constructed in our minds, inherited from our parents and learned from other peoples insecurities. We all wanna blend in to an extent, some attention is good but standing out too much is scary so we use excuses like, “I’m too old for that.” It makes it acceptable in our minds that something new isn’t meant for us because we are too old for it anyway. 

Stepping outside of our comfort zone is terrifying and visibly doing it is even worse!! This fact makes not trying something new a far easier choice. It’s safe and familiar in our comfort zone and there’s ice cream there. Problem is, after a while it gets boring and you get diabetes. 

I decided to step outside of my comfort zone recently. I took up skateboarding last year at the age of 28. I realise that 28 isn’t old but considering that most people who skate start when they’re kids, 28 seemed pretty damn old! My sole reason for taking it up was that it looked super fun, like having your own personal rollercoaster at your feet. When I plucked up the courage to go to the skatepark it was pretty scary as I couldn’t really do much, I was learning after all. My other insecurity was that not many girls were there and I felt out of place.

I would go early in the day when it was quiet, I felt so intimidated when I saw a bunch of guys shredding up the park. It was embarrassing to go in and attempt to just do a kick turn! I’m not gonna lie, sometimes if I got there and it was busy, I wouldn’t go in. I got scared by all the bigger boys skating, which is ridiculous to say seeing as I was older than most of them. A couple of months later I discovered a week long skate school was being put on at one of the bigger parks in London. I must have contacted them about 5 times. I kept asking if adults went or if it was just a kids thing. They told me that while adults were welcome, it was mainly kids that showed up. 

I thought about it for a while and decided that my desire to learn to skate was greater than my fear of being the only adult amongst a herd of kids. So I went along still hoping that I wouldn’t be the only grown up, but sure enough I was the only person there over the age of 10! At first the kids didn’t seem to register that I was older until about the 2nd or 3rd day when a couple of them asked me how old I was. Overall, the week at the skatepark was pretty fun and I learnt a bunch of cool stuff, I even won a new set of wheels! 

I kept at it and continued to improve my mad skills until a few months later, while shredding the mini ramp and being totally rad *this is possibly an exaggeration* I fractured my ankle. It was a bummer but this stuff happens when you skate. It was interesting, the reaction I got from people when I told them how I had done it. Mostly everyone older than me said that I was too old to skate anyway and probably shouldn’t go back to it. People my age just thought I was super cool, a little crazy but cool nonetheless. 

It was kinda annoying to hear those people tell me I was too old to skate. I found myself feeling a bit defensive, not because they were telling me that I was old but because of the implication that it meant I wasn’t allowed to try new things and since I had a ‘failure’ I should give up. Thankfully I didn’t listen to those people and as soon as I was allowed to I got back on my board. 

While it was annoying to hear those reactions from people, I could see that it was just their own insecurities of stepping out of their comfort zones that they were projecting onto me. It’s kinda sad really because if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have started skating at all. All the fears and worries I had about going to the skatepark in the first place, or being the only adult at skate school with a bunch of kids were unfounded. Everyone I met was so nice and encouraging and the kids didn’t care at all that I was there. Skating for me is a fun hobby and a physical skill that I hope to keep getting better at, it’s not like I’m hoping to earn a living from it or that my life would suffer tremendously without it. Regardless, I am so glad that I mustered up the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and give it a go. I have met some really cool people and made some awesome new friends too. I also think people appreciate and respect you when you show up willing to learn, fall on your butt and look stupid, it humanises you.

The coolest people I know are the ones who get out there and do stuff, learn new things and continue to grow. They support and encourage others instead of judging their failures. Stepping out of your comfort zone and learning new things is super rad. So I encourage you all to go out and top up your rad-quota!!