Sometimes I can’t even believe it myself. In fact, whenever I told people my plan it probably came as a shock to them. I’m shy. I’m introverted. I’m a homebody. They were likely thinking, “This girl will never do it.” Most people think only an outgoing, extroverted person would be the type to leave their comfort zone, not someone like me.
Yet, someone like me is probably the more likelier candidate to leave their comfort zone. After all, introverts usually don’t have a large network of friends back home. We don’t mind being alone. We actually prefer it.
Will you know anyone there? No. Do you have a job lined up? No. What about a place to live? No. So.. you’re just… going? Yes. Shudder.
So many people fear the unknown. And that’s exactly what holds them back from pursuing something they want. Me? I never liked the idea of settling down in the same place I grew up. I thought it was a rite of passage when you get old enough, you move somewhere else. I mean, my parents did it. Didn’t everyone else do it, too?
The world is a gigantic place, and the idea of staying in one place for the rest of my life almost felt claustrophobic to me. I was ready to move and live somewhere else–a place I chose. I wanted to fall in love with a city. A place where I was proud to live. Florida was becoming stale. I needed somewhere fresh and exciting. I knew the longer I stayed there, the less likely I was ever going to leave.
I wanted it so badly. As cliched as it sounds, if you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to get it. No matter how scary it was going to be, I needed to step outside my comfort zone.
The next step? I decided on a plan.
Since I was still finishing up my degree, I had a bit of time to mentally prepare myself (and save money). I told myself after graduation though, I’m doing it. No ifs, ands, or buts. No matter how frightening the idea of being alone in a new place would be. There would be absolutely nothing holding me back. I didn’t have a career. I wasn’t in a committed relationship. I didn’t own property. The only thing to my name were two cats and a car. If I were ever going to leave my comfort zone, this would be the time to do it.
I started a fund, which was a recycled pasta sauce jar labeled, “Get Jamie the hell out of Florida fund.” Each month I put as much as I could into my savings jar (donations were also accepted), and watched it grow.
Then I announced it publicly. If I admitted it out loud, then I knew I couldn’t back down. Otherwise I’d look like like a big, fat phony–all talk, no action. And no one likes phonies!
Just do it. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done. I picked a date and that was it. I packed up my car, and my cats and I headed west.
The next year and a half in Portland was one of the happiest times of my life. I found a job. I found a place to live. I met people. I proved to myself that if I could move to a place where I didn’t know anyone, I could do anything.
Except calling a stranger. That still terrifies me. Shudder.
Have you ever left your comfort zone? How did you do it?