Breaking out of your Comfort Zones

Why do we have comfort zones and how do we know we’ve broken out of them?

Is being in a comfort zone just recognizing something that you’ve done before and not feeling anxious about doing it again? Do you just need to feel nervous in order to know you’ve done something outside of your comfort zone?

There are so many hurdles every day that we have to get over and for some it is harder than others.

Starting a new job is scary enough, but for others, just getting a new bus can be the scariest part of it all! Anxiety in every walk of life is common and I am writing this mainly to prove to a lot of people that they are not alone. We are all more anxious than we let on but we mustn’t let it get the better of us. Sometimes, we just have to put our head down and run full speed into the wind. No matter what you’re thinking in the back of your head! Those voices who are saying, this is too hard, let’s go back inside: You have to ignore those.

It’s easy to not doing something because the pain and fear that comes with it is just too much. I have been a no show for so many interviews because I have found the tiniest excuse and wriggled out. What’s embarrassing is I tell myself “That was fate, I wasn’t meant to work there,” or “What came next was meant to be.” But what is really quite frightening is that I could have really missed out on some seriously good opportunities if I had just shown up.

Thinking about the immediate future and how nice it would be if the feeling went away now isn’t helpful. Of course you won’t regret not doing it, because you’ll never have known what you missed. It’s not possible to regret in these situations. But what is possible is just to begin to imagine the sense of pride you might feel if you do achieve something. That overwhelming buzz that you can get so quickly will make up for every last ounce of anxiety you have ever felt in your entire life on this planet.

Obviously, the fear can return because there are always new things to do, but so will the excitement if you beat it again.

My recent big steps include quitting my job, getting an internship and having my own articles produced daily on their website. I have covered topics from dementia to virtual reality. If you’re interested you can follow me on Twitter @MeganAtSMF.

I was comfortable, pretty miserable, but comfortable at my old job. I knew how everything worked, I knew which toilet wouldn’t bite my bum, I knew all the people (all 3 of them) and I knew my bus route like the back of my hand. Quitting my job was easy, because I knew this internship would be life changing. But during my last two weeks at the job, suddenly the work wasn’t so bad and was 3 months with absolutely no money worth it? I had to remind myself constantly that I was suffering from “graduation goggles.”

As if moving to a workplace on the outskirts wasn’t frightening enough, I signed up for my first ever poetry open mic night, just a week after the move.

It didn’t really hit me until the night of the event how scary it would be. I realised there was an actual hall, an actual microphone, an actual bar with actual bar staff and more than my boyfriend and best friend listening.

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It was daunting and I might have had the help from a few whisky and cokes but I read my poem and shocked not only myself, but even my friends. Everyone was surprised with my performance because I managed to deliver it like I was totally cool and calm. I certainly didn’t expect my passion to come through, at all.

The video wasn’t spectacular but do I plan to post it here.

Try the Facebook link but I can’t guarantee it will work:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204983109071915&pnref=story

In case that doesn’t work I also have the poem here, which is just a poem about having some balls!

The Poem that was Worthy of an Open Mic Night

You’re a poet

Embrace it

be brave and don’t fear it.

“It’s old fashioned, it’s boring

it’s so gay.”

Says who? Teenagers.

A truly formidable group of young people.

End up with A stars in English lit and suddenly

don’t forsake it.

So it’s for open mic night

I’ve turned up to the door and never walked in

I’m a Chicken with a capital C, because you see

it scares me. You scare me.

Because I can’t let it be free.

Because I am silly.

The poems write me,

they’re always there, my control.

Don’t want to lose my shadow.

My fear is a disease, where it’s easy to not seize a passion because

others just don’t feel the same.

But it’s time to stand up, be a woman

know flow and grow against this society

that doesn’t move from the truths that it

thinks it knows,

that poetry

isn’t cool.

I’m not a singer, I’m no performer.

Yet poetry brings that out in me.

So here is an ode to a poem, this poem infact,

that marks the occasion where I learnt to distract

myself from this thought, that was killing me inside,

that I couldn’t open up. That I wanted to hide.

So my poem, this poem, I just want to thank

you for giving me the oomph and giving me the knack to

get up on this stage and nearly pee my pants

but it’s not cut me down, it’s not made me weak.

I hear my voice is loud and it’s ready to speak.

Who Gave You Your Oscar?

Who Gave You Your Big Break?

This time two weeks ago I started to work out my notice at a computer outsourcing firm. They were the last two weeks in a living hell, and why was I leaving? Because I had finally got my big break. I was going to start that intern lifestyle. Okay, so I won’t be getting paid for a while but I think I can cope for a while on my last pay cheque. At this stage in my life I cannot turn down an internship as a content writer when that’s what I want to do forever. It’s terrifying knowing that tomorrow I am taking my first step on a career. This isn’t a job, this is what I went to school for. This is actually career-worthy stuff.

I know I’m not quite living that Carrie Bradshaw American dream but this is quite a big shot at it. And hey, I’m sitting at my desk, leg’s crossed, in just a towel, hair up, laptop at a funny angle. I may as well have some Chinese takeaway as well, just to finish the picture. Or a cosmopolitan? That sounds good actually.

So anyway, all this stuff about starting careers and having a big break made me wonder who have I got to thank for all this? I read a quote from writer of The Miniaturist Jessie Burton:

Yes, you work hard, but what the hell else is there to do, when no one is going to do it for you? And alas, working at something does not mean you will be rewarded in the way you thought you would be. But this does not mean that when you do find reward, you should think it was only because of your hard work. You also got lucky. The world is enormous and brimming with misfortune. We should not be ashamed of luck. We should try and pass it on. I intend to do so in 2015.

Luck? At first I thought “pfft,” no way, I worked hard for this. I deserve it. But then I thought, look at all the people I know who work hard and don’t necessarily get what they want. In fact, I was told that those graduating with 1st class degrees are less likely to succeed than those with a lower qualification. Maybe they lack the creativity to progress past the initial school-like environment.

But, still I certainly never considered myself a lucky person, in fact I normally say I’m quite the opposite. But now, I’m thinking that like Jessie, I should be grateful, I should keep up the hard work and be ready to pass on my good luck to others.

Let’s take a few steps back and see where my good luck has come from. It was September 2013 and I was entering my final year of university. Work was at an all-time high and I was going through a pretty traumatic breakup.  It was safe to say I was heading for a breakdown. So, out of nowhere I’m approached by some pals who knew me through my love for American Football and they casually mention how running their Uni team was a bit too much work and would I be interested in helping. There were 2 or 3 of them behind this decision and I actually didn’t know them as well as I thought I did at the time, but of course I said yes. It was definitely an escapist thing. Somewhere else to focus whilst my personal life crumbled and my degree was getting too much. Because of these 3 fellas I became quite a big name around the football scene. I met all the coaches and by the end of the season, the HC of the County Premiership team found me and got me shadowing his wife to be the GM of their team. Now those 3 original guys who really gave me my big break into that world aren’t prevalent parts of my life. Not through anyone’s fault, just time and drifting lifestyles. I still see them, but it wasn’t until now I realised I had them to thank for all my success in the world of American Football. Obviously, at every step along the way there have been people to thank. The woman who took me the extra way and her husband who introduced us have been massively influential and will continue to help me in my first seasons.

But it’s not just American Football related success that all this has brought me. It meant that 9 months ago I met a guy who’s become very important to me. Because of him, I’ve stayed in Cambridge. Because of that I’ve started a Masters. I have a gorgeous place to live. I’ve met some amazing people whilst trying to fund my way through a postgraduate degree. And my general managerial skills have impressed in all my interviews. Who knows, it may have been the American Football stuff that got me the internship!? That combined with my crazy writing skills, of course.

It might just have been these 3 random guys who really didn’t know me and I didn’t know them, that got me where I am. It might be nothing to do with it.

The point of this blog is to make you think who have you go to thank for where you are now. Like all the people winning Oscars… Who’s been holding your hand literally, or from afar? Who’s never lost faith in you? Okay, so the Oscars has got me way too emotional and grateful, I think! So for my metaphorical Oscar, I want to thank the American Footballers, my best friend for being the Dion to my Cher, the fruit to my nut and Hugh to my Grant. I also want to thank my mumma bear for being so confident in me. And finally, for all the teachers/lecturers who have told me since Year 3 onwards, “You’re gonna be big, kid.”

Flash Fiction Project: Tube Flash with Joanna Sterling

As I begin my MA in Creative Writing I am going to try harder than ever to read and write something everyday for the term. I cannot promise that all of these pieces will make it onto my blog but I can certainly try. For this week I am focusing on Flash Fiction mainly because I suppose you could say it is my most recent success.

I won a spot in a Flash Fiction project called Tube Flash: http://www.thecasket.co.uk/tube-flash/

The creator’s name is Joanna Sterling, a kind, creative and eccentric character. The idea was to merge the map of the London Underground with her beautiful collection of brooches. Sounds mad, perhaps it is! But I loved the idea that when you decided to make a submission you could either pick a brooch, or your Tube station (depending what grabs you most) and then make a story based on either/or. I was attracted to a gorgeous brooch with just the head of a rooster. I was born in 1993, which according to the Chinese New Year meant I was born in the year of the rooster. I felt it fitted well. The station my brooch was paired to was Cockfosters, even more fitting I thought!

Cockfosters-250x223

Laughing, I told myself “Without a doubt my story is going to have to be linked to chickens in some way.” And having started a dissertation in Fairy Tales and Myths, it seemed only right that I find something to revamp! The Greek tale of the Cockatrice became my inspiration.

By the end I wouldn’t have minded if Joanna picked me for her project or not. She had given me two related stimulus and I had been inspired to write. But as it went, I won a spot on her map after all!

So for todays piece, I want to share with you my take on the legend of the Cockatrice. To view it, please go to Joanna’s website http://www.thecasket.co.uk/tube-flash-map/ and click on Cockfosters: the most Northern stop on the Piccadilly Line.

Tune in tomorrow for more Flash Fiction.