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When Life Begins with Fear} ?> My comfort zone is my safety zone, and it’s my favorite place to be. I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, in order to do something outside of it. I’m not a risk-taker. I like playing it safe. I hate the idea of gambling, because there’s such a big risk of losing. I like staying in my own little world with my laptop and the internet where my life is unexciting most of the time. It’s where I’m comfortable.
When I saw Tangled for the first time in theaters, I immediately related to Rapunzel. She’s a girl with many talents and interests I share, including art and cooking. We both have long hair. Mine’s not that long, but still. And we both really like our comfort zones.
Rapunzel longed to leave the tower and see the lights on her birthday. Anytime in her eighteen years, she could have left on her own to see them. Mother Gothel persuaded her to stay by telling her about all of the scary things beyond the tower, but she still had a choice. She chose to listen to fear.
There are so many things I want to do in life, but often fear holds me back. Whether it’s fear of a new job, talking to someone I’ve never met at a party, or even trying a new ride at an amusement park, it keeps me from doing things I want to do.
When Flynn arrives, Rapunzel gains the courage to leave her home and see the world. At times she regrets leaving the tower, because doing so made herself vulnerable and she gets hurt. But if she hadn’t stepped out, if she hadn’t pushed herself then, she never would have discovered the joys of the world and she never would have met her parents or had a relationship with Flynn. Her life completely changes for the better because she decides to leave her comfort zone and take a risk.
The first time I went skiing, I was terrified. I looked down that ski hill and thought, “Nope. Nope. Nope.” But seconds later, I made myself ski down the hill anyway, and I had a lot of fun. Another time I had the opportunity to fly to France. I hadn’t been in an airplane since I was a newborn and I know some people who are terrified of planes (plus 9/11 didn’t help my fears either). In the end, I pushed back my fears and now I have a European experience under my belt that I’ll never forget. I’ve been learning to conquer my fears and step out of my comfort zone, even taking a trip by myself on another occasion. After doing it once, it was way easier the next time.
In all of these instances, I had to push myself, but in all of them I had a great experience as a result. If I had succumbed to my fear, I would have never felt the thrill of skiing and never been able to travel to two countries and five states far away. I’m not saying it was easy. In some cases, I’ve hyperventilated or even cried in my bed the night before I did something out of my comfort zone. Sometimes bad things happened, like getting horribly lost while trying to find my way. But like in Tangled, even with the setbacks, my experiences have been worth it. They’ve changed me for the better and made stepping out the next time a little bit easier.
The experiences I’ve referenced have resulted in a lot of personal growth, but stepping out of comfort zones can have a bigger impact than that. In Tangled, it’s not just Rapunzel who is affected by her choices, but Flynn, Mother Gothel, her parents, and a whole slew of other people (I’m looking at you, patrons of The Snuggly Duckling). Although those experiences don’t always wrap up so nicely as the end of a Disney movie, where the villain meets justice and everyone else sings, dances, and kisses their true loves, there is something to be said for showing others that fear doesn’t rule my life. In my own experiences, traveling to other places and trying new things has allowed me to meet new people and impact other lives.
I’ve also written about my experiences on my personal blog and found that they inspired other people to reach outside of their comfort zones. If I had never traveled I wouldn’t have met many people and helped jumpstart their writing careers or even helped them find their current workplaces. Breaking out of my comfort has in turn helped other people break out of theirs.
When my life involves conquering fear instead of listening to it, there is joy to be found. I’m no longer wondering “When Will My Life Begin?” because I’m too afraid to make it start. Instead, I’m overcoming my fear and finding joy.
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