How a Shy Introvert Left their Comfort Zone to Travel

Standing at Council Crest in Portland, Oregon.

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.

On the beach in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

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.

On a ferry in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.

But how does one, who is so shy that even the smallest social interactions cause anxiety, leave their comfort zone? Their comfortable bubble that feels so nice and snug? That bubble they have become so used to?

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.

Standing at the Arizona Welcome sign.

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.

At the top of Mount Eden in Auckland, New Zealand.

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.

On Top of the Rock in New York City.

Except calling a stranger. That still terrifies me. Shudder.


Have you ever left your comfort zone? How did you do it?

Comments

  1. Ryan says

    I loved reading this, Thanks so much!

    An inspiration to all of us introverts and homebodies! Also a great blog.

    • Dan says

      Thank you, Ryan! You’re the first person to comment on our blog so if you like we can send you a postcard as a thank you. Throw me an email if you’re interested (mrdanbaird@gmail.com)

  2. northandsouthnomads says

    Hi Jamie, just connected with you on twitter (jess meddows). Great story! And you’re in NZ now? I share a fear of calling strangers. I hate phone conversations to begin with, but strangers on the phone is the most terrifying. ;)

    • Jamie says

      Hey! Thanks for following back. Yup, I’m currently in Wellington, New Zealand, and loving it so far. (Except the lack of central heating in our apartment. Brr!) I think it’s becoming a common fear among Millennials. They’ve even coined the term telephobia. Why bother calling when texting is so much easier?

      Thanks again for reading! :)

  3. says

    Hi guys! Great post! Gives me inspiration to get out of my comfort zone and travel! Just wished I could pause work and just go!

    • Jamie says

      Hey Melissa,

      So happy to hear that this has given you inspiration! You’re right though, it’s hard to leave when that little thing called work gets in the way. Thanks for reading!

  4. says

    Congrats!!! :) I always wanted to travel. Eventually I realised I wasn’t happy in my work, bored of the city I’d moved to and just realised it was time to go. Best. Decision. Ever!

  5. says

    Congrats! I’m close to escaping Florida myself, it can definitely get stale here. My first top is Goa, India in Jan. 2015…then some months in SE Asia, probably come back and spend the summer in Portland, I love it over there!

    Good for you facing fears and making it happen :)

    • Jamie says

      I sure love hearing about Floridians escaping (or about to) the state! I just did a quick Google search on Goa, and it looks like there are some amazing beaches there. Yes, Portland is great–plenty of things to see, do, and eat there.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Good luck on your upcoming adventure!:)

Leave a Reply