I finished watching Marie's interview with Tim this morning (recommended!), and she asked viewers to share their story on one of Tim’s staple questions: In the last five years — what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
For me, it’s embrace being uncomfortable. Some years ago I realized I was always waiting for the perfect timing, with, in hindsight, absurd excuses to avoid discomfort. I was awkward in many situations and that awkwardness would paralyze me and if I could avoid it, I would. No matter the reward it would hold.
My increasing death anxiety was one of the triggers that made me rethink how I approached experiences. In my mid-twenties, I felt more and more like life was passing me by, and I was just sitting in my corporate office, reading about things other people did while getting closer to my grave with no fun stories to put on my tombstone.
My pivotal moment in this change was actually starting pole dance. I wanted to try it for years, but instead of doing it, I told myself I needed to get into better shape first. Get stronger, thinner, more flexible. Finally, with the feeling that I was soon going to to die anyway, I decided, fuck it. It's one embarrassing hour of my life, I can survive this.
And yes, it was awkward. And hard. I felt like a T-rex with their tiny arms, trying to move a huge body around the pole. It was challenging as hell. It sure wasn't pretty. I couldn't understand how I would ever be able to climb on the pole, even less how I would be able to hang upside down and do those pretty shapes I've seen on Instagram. But, at the same time, it was intriguing and fun. Fun enough to make me embrace the discomfort and sign up for a course.
My pole journey is a separate story, but the point is that I chose to accept feeling uncomfortable and not run away from it. I decided to focus on being proud of myself for every little progress I made, no matter that it was slower than anyone else's and it literally took me three years to learn how to properly invert*.
Australia was another big thing. My first longer trip by myself, a month traveling the east coast. Colleagues would comment on how “brave I was to travel that far alone”, but traveling with only myself as company never scared me. Just give me a book, some sunshine and a glass of wine and I’ll be happy. What I used as an excuse here was money, and again, me being uncomfortable in my own skin. “I’ll better wait till I have money saved up, so I can do everything I want to do there” and “I’ll better wait till I look good in a bikini before I go to a dreamy beach place and learn to surf”. Yes, I’m well aware of how absurd it sounds, I also know I’m not alone in thinking like this.
“I’m too stiff to do yoga.”
“I’m too poor to travel.”
“I’m too fat for pole.”
With that bit of energy I got from pushing my comfort zone with pole dance, I booked my ticket six months in advance. Then I managed to save a little bit of money, but I was not exactly the fitness amazon I had envisioned. But I went. I didn’t get to try surfing that time, but I did spend plenty of time at the beach. I met awesome people, some of which I still keep in touch with. I learned that you can have an epic experience without staying in fancy hotels and have visible abs. Who knew, right.
This is where I decided that life for me is about embracing the awkwardness, be able to laugh at yourself and learn from all the experiences. Which is why I love trying new things. If something feels exciting, I'll have to do it at some point, no matter how much it scares me. It might not be tomorrow. Maybe not this year. But it will happen.
Skydiving is one of those things. Imagining it makes me nauseous and the idea of me voluntarily jumping out of an airplane is absurd. Someone will have to push me, and I won’t scream, because when I’m truly scared, I go mute. But, eventually, I will do it. Because no matter how much of cliche it is, life is just too fucking short not to.
*This is an invert and most people learn it in a few months. 😬