Getting out of your comfort zone

Tonight I attended the “members only” birthday party for my local board game cafe. I almost didn’t go- I haven’t been in a while because I started drifting away from my friend who used to go with me. It’s hard for me as an introvert to go places by myself- especially places where it’s assumed you’ll be coming with others. But I went alone, though I did know another friend who was attending with his family.

I sort of awkwardly hung around and watched him play a game with his adorable toddler, wife, and friend for about an hour or so. Eventually, we started chatting about social deduction games. I shared how much I love these- how I teach a class involving them, played a bunch on the JoCo cruise (the nerd cruise where I got together with my boyfriend). I mentioned how I would just grab random people to play and my friend encouraged me to do that here.

I’m not going to lie- I was pretty nervous. Was this the venue for it? Would everyone hate me for interrupting their games? The first few groups I asked refused. Very politely, but I’m still pretty sensitive to rejection. I was really nervous when they started trickling slowly to the table and I had to count if we had enough and figure out who to wait for and when to start the rules explanation.

We ended up playing that game and I organized another, larger one just as my friends left. I was almost confused as to how everyone listened to me. I felt proud of my leadership abilities. I don’t think I would have had the courage to do something like this until just a few years ago. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was as a child to want to be the leader but to be absolutely terrified to take charge.

I had so much social anxiety in the past that I painstakingly worked toward overcoming. In college, I don’t know that I would have even made it in the door to a party like this.

The games tonight were awesome. I met a lot of new people- several of whom I exchanged numbers with and who invited me to future game nights of theirs. My most exciting moment was the invite to the Cleveland social deduction gaming group! I didn’t even know there was such a thing!

I’m left just feeling so happy that I had the courage to gather people for those games and to lead them in explaining the rules. To chat with them after the game was over. To make new friends.

Like so many times in my life where I get outside of my comfort zone (especially in social situations), I’m left feeling why didn’t I do this sooner?

Take the leap! Do the thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the courage to. You’ll be amazed at what might come out of it.

Becoming Unstuck

We’ve been doing a lot on our trip to China, but we’ve also had a lot of downtime- on the bus, in the evening- where I’ve been able to relax and do whatever I want. Mostly, that’s been re-playing Fire Emblem Awakening (my favorite video game ever!) But I was reflecting recently on why I haven’t been writing. I spend a lot of time reflecting on why I don’t write. Sadly, probably more time than I actually spend writing.

It makes me feel stuck. I think this happens to people a lot. I used to be stuck when it came to exercise (until I found boxing!) My brother is stuck in his job- he hates it, but he’s still working there. My best friend was stuck in her last relationship- she was looking for a reason to leave, but didn’t. My boyfriend is stuck in eating unhealthy- he keeps talking about trying to eat healthier and has made some progress, but hasn’t made any major changes. In all of these cases, it’s just easier to maintain the status quo. It’s easier to keep doing what we’ve been doing rather than put in the effort to make these changes.

What is beyond frustrating to me is that I know I will be happier if I become unstuck. I know it’s what I want to do. I know what I have to do to get there. But I don’t do it.

I don’t have an answer for this, but I want to know how to become unstuck. I want to become unstuck in my writing and I want to teach people how to become unstuck in their lives.

The biggest obstacle for me is that becoming unstuck isn’t something that you do once. Sometimes, I have small patches of being unstuck with writing. I’ll write several stories I’m proud of, I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo, I’ll write every day for a month. And then I’ll stop. Every time I start writing takes a lot of effort. Every time I edit takes even more.

For me, it’s the voices of doubt. It’s thinking that my writing is bad or isn’t good enough. It’s thinking that I’ll never make it as a writer. It’s submitting my piece somewhere and having it be rejected- being disheartened even though I know this is completely normal- even for the best and most successful writers. It’s choosing to do something other than write.

Writer’s block is an excuse. Just one of many that I and others use to allow ourselves to feel absolved from working toward our goals. As I write this post, I’m already thinking of my new excuses for not writing tonight or tomorrow or on the airplane. I’m already thinking of how I can feel better for not pursuing one of the goals I’ve had for the longest in my life.

I think I’m looking for an easy answer. A solution where all I have to do is press a magic button and all of a sudden writing is as easy as spending hours playing Fire Emblem. Where as long as I know what I need to do, it’s not hard to do it. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. The answer is that to achieve what you want most in the world, you need to work for it. You need to make the choice to do it. Again and again and again if that’s what it takes.

Relatedly, I would love to study this from a psychological perspective. What happens when people do become unstuck? When I started boxing, how was that different from me failing to write? When I have more answers, I’ll share. In the meantime, keep putting in the effort toward your goals- you’re worth it!