What Outside of Your Comfort Zone Looks Like

To amplify your growth, you need to operate outside of your comfort zone.

I know. Preaching about this is easy, but doing it is a different story. There’s going to be a lot of “push and pull” occasions with yourself, albeit the “pull” part is more encouraging.

In late 2018, I lost my job.  Eight months later, I joined a new company. At first, I chickened out because the role was outside my comfort zone.  Instead of finding excuses, I took the job. Looking back, I can tell there’s a lot that I’ve learned in a year compared to previous work experiences.

Was it easy? Picture yourself heading home after school every single day. That’s what I feel until now.  It’s challenging and rewarding. Here is a preview of what happened so far.

Discoveries

  1. I’ve learned something new about myself. I never thought I could dance until my teammates and I had to perform an act from the movie “The Greatest Showman”  with costumes and all.
  2. I never knew baking with teammates via zoom could be fun. Now I could make delicious crostata and lemon cake, plus potentially make money out of it. If not, baking would save me a few bucks too. I can’t imagine myself hanging out in a coffee shop with a slice of pie or cake ever again.
  3. I realized I could get along with different nationalities and discovered we have  a lot of things in common if only I open up, strike a conversation, trust, listen and take time to get to know someone.
  4. I’ve learned it’s rewarding to accomplish something outside of your expertise, especially if you do it from a genuine desire to contribute, help or, pitch in. There’s nothing wrong about doing something for the first time and therefore asking many questions, even when you’re older. 
  5. In a work that continuously encourages you to grow, there’s never a dull moment. There’s no room for boredom. You could honestly say, “I learned something new today” at the end of the day and drive home feeling accomplished.

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” 

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I believe, if we explore more, our growth in day or week would be exponential.  The challenge is, we don’t.  We like hanging on to old ways and beliefs, even beliefs about ourselves, and come up with excuses.  Think about what staying in your comfort zone has cost you.  For me:

The Would-Have-Been Costs

I would have never learned English and be good at it. It’s not my first language.

I would never have launched this blog. Somebody told me my grammar sucks and people don’t care about my opinions.

I wouldn’t have traveled to different countries. Somebody told me it’s expensive and it’s dangerous.

I would never have found a spiritual community. Somebody told me I’m a hopeless case, and it will be difficult for me to change.

I would have never joined and won singing competitions. Somebody told me I couldn’t carry a tune.

I would never have built something for myself. Somebody told me I will always be poor.

Conclusion

I am not sharing things to brag but to remind you that in the past,  you have accomplished things too, not because you were less afraid but because you decided to go ahead and face your fear head-on. You made it this far because you kept on. That’s the truth, even if you say you did it because you had no choice.  The fact that you have accomplished it proves that you’re capable. Now imagine what more you could have achieved had you given yourself a little more faith.  It’s about thriving, not surviving.

Why don’t we dream again like when we were kids? Try new things and be curious enough to learn?  

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”- Andre Gide.

Once again, light up the fire in your heart. Make no room for fear. Instead, save enough for “what could be’s”.

Where I’m Heading

So last night, I wrote this email to one of the writers I admire.

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Hey _____,

I hate you.  

I keep stumbling upon your blogs for some reason. Each and every time, the “what if” about pursuing my passion gets re-ignited.  I’m too comfortable with the security I have in my life right now that I can come up with excuses to not take another shot at things that give my heart wings.

I love writing and speaking.

BUT…

I have a “9-5” job working as a  _____________. I don’t have the luxury of time to work on things that inspire me.

I run out of ideas on what to __________   or  _______   about.

I’m insecure and worry about what _________  would think or say about my opinions/thoughts.

I only have a fair command of the  _________.

I am fascinated about __________, _________, _________, ________ and helping/teaching others what I know but I don’t have a degree on any of these.

Yet, time and again, I dream about becoming “that ________”, “that ________”. This unfulfilled desire leaves a hole in my heart,

A dent in my life, in my own person, that makes me feel like I’m not living “me”.

I don’t believe pursuing these things will give me a sense of security that I sort of value too.

But you, you are living your dream, my dream. And you’re being true to you, and you’re happy, and you’re creating an impact on the lives of people you don’t even know.

I wish I could be you. I wish I have your wisdom. I wish I have your courage.

Frustrated as to where I am right now, I just ______________________.

I’m desperate. I think I am. Where and how do I go from here? I’m half way through and very much aware that life is slipping away.

Help.

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Apologies for the “redacted” parts. I think I’m not ready at all to be completely vulnerable.  But I think you get the sense of frustration I am in.  If you’re in this state too, isn’t it comforting to know that It’s not a lonely world for you? Somewhere out there or here, someone else is stuck at a corner, not sure if the right thing to do next is to just turn.

Frustration is good. It helps you see how badly you’re unhappy of what’s happening now, and probably of where things are heading.  Unhappy in a sense that, what you see, may not always be the truth that you’ve always known.  

Someone once told me that in life, sometimes it’s not about knowing the answers, It’s about what you do with what you’ve come to know.

So my friend, what is it that you’ve been wrestling with? Chances are, you already have the answers. You’re just scared of what it’s gonna take.

I am scared too, and yet, here I am.

Ride It Out

Yes, you heard me. There will be days when you’d feel like you’re not getting it. You feel slow, so behind, down, uninspired, even clumsy, and unsteady.  There will be days when you’d doubt yourself and your capacity, question your plans, and beliefs, or how you walk on this journey called life. Yes, the struggle is real. We have our highs and lows and sometimes we find it difficult to handle both.

In this amazing journey that we all share, it’s without a doubt that all of us are eternal students of a real-life university.  We stumble and make mistakes, and at times we reap small wins and victories too. It’s an exciting experience, at least, if you perceive it that way.

You see, we see the world through lenses that we choose to put on.  Some of us wear a pair of blurry ones, some too clear, and some are just about right. What do I mean?

I have met a lot of people who are either too negative or too optimistic.  I don’t judge, I’d tell you that. I’d take the person as he is and get to know him as time unfolds.  Talk about being a realist.

I wasn’t born a realist, but I think I became one as I navigated my way through pleasant and unpleasantness experiences.  If you’ve read past articles that I wrote, ( https://sundaewrites.com/it-all-burned-down-to-the-ground/ , https://sundaewrites.com/the-bitter-pill/, https://sundaewrites.com/make-room/, https://sundaewrites.com/closed-doors/),  I’ve shared an empowering question that most of us fail or fear to ask ourselves. The question of “What Now?”.

This sort of examination is so freeing and empowering as it gives us the courage to let go of what used to be, what we had or have lost in the past, and opens our eyes to the present along with the possibilities that are out there, things that we can hope for and realize. This brings me back to the first three words you’ve read in this piece- “Ride it out”.

Let these words sink in.  Yes, days can be difficult sometimes, just like the weather. But imagine yourself as water, making your way through a river. Surely you will hit rocks but still, you’d flow your way around it. You go on and on, to wherever your strength could take you. 

Next time when you feel like you’re down and weak, don’t feel too bad about it. Don’t sulk in tears. If you must, allow yourself to cry or frown. Feel the feeling, experience it, but not for long. At one point you have to tell yourself, “That’s enough”. You have to pick yourself up and move on.  Others say, “Fake it ‘till you make it”,  but I say, “Fake it ‘till you BE it.- all in a positive context.  Emotion follows motion. Smile and leap instead of walk.  Trust me, you’ll be surprised by how different you’d start to feel.

Light up my friend. Never let a gloomy day or a losing moment, weigh you down too much or too long. It happens to everyone even to the best of the best. Life is too short to let yourself get stuck in that one moment forever. Again I say, ride it out!


Don’t Get Too Hooked Up On The Future

This week, I’ve spent an extra day at home with no special plans. I meant it to be a lazy day. It’s good to have a break every now and then, with no deadlines to beat.  The luxury of time, some may call it. A brief pause from everything.

I didn’t set any intention that day.  Around afternoon I listened to K-love (my favorite station) and all these christian songs started to fill my room.  For a brief moment, my thoughts wandered around what ifs.

I believe most of us get caught up with the uncertainty and mystery of the future. We get so engrossed in “what ifs“ rather than “what is”, in “what could be” rather than “what is now”. That is why the magic of the present gets lost so easily.  

The Journey or the Destination

A lot of influential people in the world, including lifestyle gurus, life coach, and motivational speakers advise us to focus on possibilities, the idea of what can be or who we can be. While it is good, I hope we don’t lose sight of the journey just because we are too fixated on the destination.

We all have these hopes and desires for our future, right? We dream about them, fantasize about them, but only a few of us put in the work.  We avoid discomfort, difficulties, struggles, and sometimes we even avoid change. So I think the big challenge here is for us to embrace these things instead of avoiding them. To love putting in the hours, the effort, the attitude, knowing  that, we are in the process of becoming- the person we want to be, the person that we can be.

Fear of the Future

While some are excited about the future, the rest of the world fears it. Fear of losing a job, a title, a house, an investment, a business, or losing someone close.  Such fear also takes us away from the present- –  what we have now or who we have, or what we can do. I think the challenge is for us to not be paralyzed by fear, and to let go of control:

  • controlling what is uncertain and 
  • controlling things that are not really up to us,

Rather, we can focus on the next best thing that can be done in our present circumstances.

Final Words

If you’re constantly chasing rainbows, you’ll miss the beauty of the rain. If you always set your eyes uncovering the mystery of tomorrow, you will miss the ones that are willingly unfolding before your very eyes, right here, right now.

My friend, don’t get to hooked up on the future. You’re here now. Make the most of it.

Why You Should Say Yes To Pain

“A worthwhile purpose outweighs any kind of struggle.”- sundaewrites

 

Nobody is immune to pain.  Everybody has it or had it, at one point in their lives.  So if you are suffering right now, know that you are not alone.

 

Pain is cruel, yes, but pain can also be your friend.  Like any gift, it can come in any form or package. You need to unwrap and accept it and know what is it trying to teach you.

 

From pain:

  • comes strength you never thought you had
  • comes wisdom, you wished you always knew
  • comes courage you wished you clothed yourself with earlier in life
  • comes resilience, with life teaching you how to bend
  • comes pruning, stripping you of weak strongholds and false dependencies.
  • comes the fulfillment of your purpose and realization of things you value the most

 

 

 

Not all pain in the world is worthy to endure. Choose the ones that truly serve your purpose- make you better, make the lives of those around you better. Choose the kind of pain that when you look back years down the line, you could proudly say, “Yes, I did that, I suffered that because I truly loved”.  Choose the kind of pain that consumes all your strength, yet at the end of the day rewards you with so much peace and settles your heart.Whether or not you wake up to another day, your heart is free and content.

 

I have my share of pain. It may not be as much as the rest of the world is currently suffering for, but it is real to me, as much as your pain is real to you.  Don’t deny pain or just go about life like it isn’t there.  Even at the peak of one’s success, it can still be present. Even if you’re surrounded by loved ones, drowning in wealth or blessed with a good health, there’s always a piece of you that knows pain. That’s the price of being human, or should I say, the gift of being one.

 

How can it be a gift, you ask. In my own journey, pain has been and will always be a great teacher. It helps me grow, learn, and discern what’s worth suffering for and gives me the courage too to forge ahead. It reminds me that I’m fully alive and breathing, and that life is real because I can feel it, it’s happening and I, am in it.

 

Of all the things I have or have accomplished, I’m more proud of the ones that required me to sacrifice much.  Pain can be a character builder, you know, and a great teacher.  And character is something that nobody can take away from you.

 

Whatever pain you’re suffering right now, maybe it’s good to ask, “Is it worth it”?

 

When you show up for work, for a cause, an activity, or someone, ask yourself why you do. Is the reason, something you really care about?  Is it something that serves a greater good? Does it make you better as a human being? Does it equip you to bless the world more? Is it worthy of a day in your life? If yes, then go and embrace pain. A worthwhile purpose outweighs any kind of struggle, and embracing that is giving yourself the privilege to live a bigger life.

Make Room

Photo Credit: Philipp Berndt
“If people are not traveling the same path as yours, it doesn’t mean that they are lost”- #sundaewrites

 

I grew up getting almost everything I want.  I was fortunate to have a doting father. Though I’m forever grateful for that, such near perfection didn’t help much in my ability to accept failure, defeat, and rejection during my adult life. I was overly sensitive and had a strong desire to be liked, to be accepted, and be noticed.  For me to get that, I worked really hard to please other people, to be the best that I can be, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to.

I knew then that being Miss Ideal would get me raving fans, and that’s exactly what I’ve got– raving fans.Then I realized there were still other people who I can’t seem to reach– the imperfect ones. The problem kids, troubled teenagers, the unpopular, the nobodies. I thought, if I want to be to be liked by them, I had to be like them.  So I switched sides.  That decision completed my experience on both sides of the world.

After all the hassles and risks, do you think I was accepted, liked and loved?  I believe I was, but it was never enough.  And I figured out why. There was one person left in the room who’s not giving me what I want. That person was me.

Do you wonder why you are unhappy, or dissatisfied?  Why you long so much to find happiness in your outside world?  It’s because your inner world is broken.  It’s not as bright as it supposed to be. It’s dark, dull, empty and confused.

Let me put something on your plate.

Lower your expectations of others.

People make mistakes.  There are days when they are not the best versions of themselves. And some days they couldn’t care about you.  They have issues too you know.  And you can’t compel them to place you at the center of their lives.  They are the center of their lives as much as you are the center of your own. A person who can’t take care of himself isn’t capable of taking care of another human being.  Even if he tries, the fire will soon die if he neglects to add fuel to the furnace. Putting that fuel is something you do yourself. It’s not anyone else’s job.  So own it.

Forgive yourself as often as you can, then do better.

Admit it. You are impatient with others because you are impatient with yourself.  You remain miserable because while others have moved on, you chose to carry the weight around you. Trust me, you’ll never get anywhere if you keep reliving your failures. Feel sorry yes, but don’t dwell on it for too long. Confront yourself with “what now”, enough with “Why, me?.”

Stop projecting your desired realities on to others.

That’s just fair, isn’t it? Because you don’t want others as well to tell you what you should do or supposed to have to be completely happy. Happiness, after all, is an inside job.The fulfillment of such rests on you. So allow people to live a life that is true to them. You have your own to worry about.

photo credit: Aaron Burden

Our life has its own unique design. As a saying goes, “If people are not traveling the same path as yours, it doesn’t mean that they are lost”We have our own space and time to fill.  Respect that and you will learn to lower the bars for other people and adjust the bars you set for yourself.

Don’t fret about getting what you want. Don’t be somebody else’s responsibility. Better than that, give life whenever you can and nourish your inner world as much as you should.

Question:

Was there an instance in your life where you believed someone failed you? How was your journey during that phase? How did it change your perspective in life? Comment here. I want to listen to your heart. Let me hear you.

Some Days When I’m Not Winning

A friend of mine told me once: Pick one thing that you can win today. Once you make it, pick another, then another.”  How I hope I learned this sooner. – #sundaewrites

 

I always make it a point to come prepared. It doesn’t matter which assignments I take, be it at work, ministry, personal goals or any activity set out on my calendar.  You see, I don’t like to be in a place where I’d hear myself mutter “I should have…”  I have high expectations from “me” and fortunately (or unfortunately), I project these expectations towards others.

Half of the time things go the way I envisioned them, and the rest of the time, they don’t. I get so pumped up on those “sunny days”, and well, “rainy days”- they always get me down.  These down moments seem to carry on forever. My heart bleeds, my positivity loses strength, my demeanor and stance obviously mirror defeat.

photo credits: glenn carstens peters

 

Still, I show up.  

As much as I want to analyze my feelings and thoughts piece by piece, I desire so much to just hit the rewind button and start fresh- wish I was better that day, wish I was smarter, wish people were more kind, more responsible, more caring.  When I realized I couldn’t even fulfill the wishes I had for myself, I understood how ridiculous it is to expect my wishes for other people to come true.

As I was driving home one evening I felt the urge to confront myself one question. “Why do you easily get frustrated?” A number of answers came up.

Your standards are too high

You’re trapped in the illusion of a perfect world

You’re over confident

You fooled yourself into believing that people are perfect

You like to operate in your own little world and expect people to fit in there

A lot of thoughts came running like athletes on a marathon pushing towards the finish line. Suddenly it felt too much. These voices. They hit you like a big wave, smashing and forcing you under water till you struggle to breathe and lose the will to swim.

Then it stopped. Calmness stepped in like a sudden quietness, a glimmer of pure silence.

I wrestled with that peace.  Reluctantly I said, “Okay’ I’m going to keep my commitment to those I made it to”.  And that still, small voice answered, “No, keep the commitment you made to Me”.  It’s like He knows, He’d hear me say “I quit” time and time again.

Point blank. I didn’t have the courage to say yes to that. So I argued some more

“It’s difficult”.

“It’s unfair”.

“How can you expect that from me?”

Did I get more answers? No.  I was left with those questions.

photo credits: jean gerber

 

I guess, there’s no easy way to go about it, no easy way to go about uncertainties and the feeling of being let down.

A friend of mine told me once: Pick one thing that you can win today. Once you make it, pick another, then another.”  

Some days we lose, some days we win. I think the outcome is important, but more than that, the process is.  Whether we get a trophy or a zero star rating on any given day, it should not stop us from taking the next step.  We don’t get it all figured out at the start, even as we go on. But do we always have to have the answers? Maybe, but even if we don’t we go out there and keep asking anyway. We go out there and pick ourselves up.  We go out there and show up. Life “wills” you to take risks. When you do, it will define you and redefine you. At the end of it, you can never lose.

 

Questions:

Have you also experienced being let down? Did you wrestle with frustration? How did you come off it and what lessons did you learn? I’d love to hear from you.

The Bitter Pill

“Your mind and your heart is a battlefield.  You decide what wins, and who wins.”#sundaewrites

 

Disappointment.  It depletes your energy. It saps your motivation. It makes you think and do a lot of crazy things you wouldn’t have thought or done if you were in your happy state.

Remember the times you took out on people who have nothing to do with what you’re going through or the times when you’ve thrown in the towel and sadly exclaimed, “It’s over”? Crazy. Why? Coz often times we make decisions in the heat of the moment, in the height of our feelings.

Everyone has had experienced the weight of being let down. I have my fair share of it in different aspects of life- relationships, faith, service, work, even in the things that I do out of passion- music, and writing.  There would be people who would admire what you have or have accomplished but they never got to see the hard work you’ve put into it.  There would be times when your efforts are valued less, or go by unnoticed.  There would be moments when it would feel like, you’re hardly getting there not getting closer to your dreams or inching forward to what you want to accomplish.

Mind you, it’s tough. But that’s just how it is.  Yesterday you were happy, today you are sad, and tomorrow, you might find hope. The day after that you may feel invincible, the next day, you look at yourself in the mirror and say “What a total loser”.  Sometimes you may experience all these in one single day.  Take for example the old man who worries about money one morning, and wins the lotto in the evening. Just like that.  Or the day when you had a happy get together with friends, just to come home to news of a loved one’s death. Yes, just like that.

One struggling woman shared this beautiful “pick-me-up” kind of reminder that was passed on to her by her grandmother. It says, “Do your best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you”. Beautiful, sensible, comforting.  Indeed, we can only focus on one moment at a time. While the larger world moves around us at the very same instant, we can do something with what’s right before us.  After all, you’re only certain about this time Now, and not the time after that.

credits: nik macmillan

 

Our mind is a battlefield.  Oftentimes we already know what to do but it seems difficult to point ourselves in that direction.  That’s because we insist for things to happen the way it “supposed to”.  We find it hard to let go or we spend too much time asking “Why” and turn our back on the more important and liberating question of, “What now?”.   We’re stubborn like that, and we’re scared to move on.

Our heart is a battlefield too.  We should always guard and defend it from enemy invasion.  One thing I’m learning now is to cry my heart out to God about battles that I couldn’t defeat,  struggles that many people don’t know.  I always used to fix things my way. But not this time, not anymore.  When I surrender everything else to the powers above me, the weight on my shoulders is gone,  my heart is healed, my mind is clear. Then I can focus on what I can do best to what’s in front of me.  When frustration comes again, any time of day or any moment now, I just repeat this thought in my head, “Just do what you can now, tomorrow is another day”.

Hope this helps you get through your seemingly darkest days.  Always remember that you are not alone. There is still so much love in the world and so much love you can give to yourself.