Many people are surprised when I say that I don’t like competition but it’s true; I haven’t competed in anything since the 5th grade spelling bee (and I choked at regionals- hard). For some crazy reason I though it might be fun to enter a Crossfit competition with my fiancé. Just the thought of entering a competition now, at this age, especially a fitness competition wasn’t just a step out of my comfort zone—it was a flying leap.
The 8 weeks leading up to the competition flew by and last week I had no choice but to dive in and participate, or quit. There was no way I was quitting. After it was all over, I stepped back and realized how much I’ve learned.
When You Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone:
1. You Realize You’re Never Really Ready
In the 8 weeks between signing up and the competition I almost wasn’t sure how to prepare. Do I focus on endurance or skill work? Do I eat more the day before? If I were able to I could have easily dragged the preparation stage out for like 2 years, and still not have felt ready enough to compete.
Trying new things is scary, so scary that you’ll give yourself a million reasons why you aren’t ready to try it just yet. The fact of the matter is, you will never really be “ready” so you just have to dive in.
2. You Find out Your Weaknesses
This is obvious but when you step outside of your comfort zone and dive into something new, you’re going to realize what you suck at pretty quickly. In this competition I discovered that I needed better cardio so I could push harder when I felt like dying. I also realized that my upper body strength, in terms of lifting weights, was lacking a bit.
While having your weaknesses thrown in your face sucks, now you know what you need to work on in order to improve as a whole. Sometimes this can be truly eye opening and be what you need to start kicking ass.
3. You Find out What You’re Made Of
I’m not a quitter, but you bet your ass I wanted to quit a million times throughout this thing. It was hard, I was in pain, I wanted to cry at several points, I wanted to stop, I felt like puking, and I wanted the building I was in to get hit by a meteor. But I didn’t quit.
When you step outside your comfort zone and are tested, you might think you’ll go running in the opposite direction, but instead when you stand up to fight for just one more inch and when you refuse to back down no matter how tough the circumstances get—you realize you’re in it for real. And that you’re a badass for sticking it out.
4. You Will Surprise Yourself
A week before the competition the workouts were released online, so I knew exactly what I’d be in for. I went to the gym and worked on the things I knew I had trouble with. There were a couple of things I was iffy on and one main thing that I just couldn’t do to save my life. I was super frustrated. On the day of the competition during warm up I tried the iffy things and did okay and tried the thing I couldn’t get—and failed. More frustration.
IN the actual competition, it was a different story. I did a great job with the skills I wasn’t sure about AND I absolutely crushed the thing I couldn’t get. Crushed it. There I was stressing out over something I didn’t think I could do—and when it came down to it, I killed it.
The point here is, you never know until you just get your ass out there and do it.
5. Your Body Will Give off Very Strong “Flight” Signals
When I get nervous I tend to feel a combination of wanting to vomit and having to pee my pants. My body makes it very clear that it doesn’t want to do, what I’m about to do. The day of the competition I probably went to the bathroom to pee every 5 minutes. It was absolutely ridiculous how often I was going. It had to be close to 70 times. Also, my entire face broke out a couple days before in a way I haven’t seen since I was 13.
When you step (or leap) outside of your comfort zone, your body is going to react. These are not the moments you listen to your body and go hide in a hole somewhere. These are the times that you fight past the fear, the nerves and the “I can’t do this” thoughts and do it anyway. It’s how you train your body to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
6. You Will Come across Metaphors for Other Parts of Your Life
For this particular competition I was on a team with my fiancé. Once we knew what the events were, we discussed a strategy to best complete them, keeping our strengths and weaknesses in mind. Well, we soon realized that some plans worked—and some fell apart.
We pretty much had to adjust in the midst of the chaos and pick up for the other when they just couldn’t continue. I found it to be so beautiful how this magnified the great communication within our relationship, and how when the other needs help, we don’t ask questions—we just jump in and do it.
Whenever you challenge yourself, you’ll find messages and lessons that mimic other parts of your life. Pay attention to them.
7. You’re Better for Having the Experience
I walked away from this competition with a whole new perspective on myself. I know what I need to work on, I know what I enjoy and what I don’t, I know what I am capable of, and I know more about myself now than I did the day before.
In order to become the best possible version of yourself, you must keep learning. And the only way to do that is to constantly challenge and push yourself. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is indeed uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the closer you will get to greatness.
When have you stepped outside of your comfort zone? Was it worth it?
Image credit: Shutterstock