About the importance of knowing your comfort zone

whitsundays (86) whitehaven
Whitsunday Island, Australia

The sea was calm and the sky above blue, the waters inviting. I had been looking forward to my first dive. I had adventure on my mind but no fear because I knew I would love seeing the underwater world – even as a kid I could never concentrate on swimming when my dad took me and my sister to the local pool, but I was always diving, always trying to touch the bottom, always training to hold my breath a little longer. So I knew I would love real diving. I just knew.

But the regulator felt weird in my mouth; the mask leaked, somehow I couldn’t get it to seal right. It took all of my concentration to be able to breathe once we dipped under. The water was maybe up to our waists, perhaps a little higher, but when I couldn’t find the right rhythm, I started to worry.

innes national park (72)
South Australia

After the quick initiation to the use of the regulator and diver’s hand signals, we headed for deeper waters. Concerned, trying to put the moment off for a few more seconds, I was the last one of the group to put my head underwater. I can’t remember how long I stayed below the surface. Perhaps it was just a minute, perhaps longer – but when I go back to that moment in my mind, it goes by in a flash. All I remember is the dread that crept up on me. It was the terror of dying; the realisation that if I failed myself, if I failed to breathe, I would sink to the bottom of the ocean and never surface again. There was water in my mask and I couldn’t get it to drain, even when I pressed the mask like the instructor had shown previously. As I was concentrating on getting the water out of my eyes, I started to lose focus on my breathing, and suddenly I realised I didn’t know how to. We were perhaps a metre below the surface, so I quickly guided myself back up. I had fought the feeling of panic for the whole time I was underwater, and now that I could breathe freely again I felt utter and total relief. 

Sidling beside my relief, though, was another feeling, a darker one: the sense of shame.

7RDOZ21X3zw3syWfRTADw60Z2pD9CLo9fYBKgzrwcec
ziplining in Jodhpur, India

Travel blogs, inspirational quotes and Pinterest boards tell us what travel should be like. At best it can be breaking boundaries, challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone to grow as a person. But what happens when two wires cross? What if your sense of adventure can’t overcome your sense of comfort? Travel is supposed to be all about exploring the world outside your comfort zone but sometimes that proves to be more difficult than expected.

P7210003
Riding a rickshaw in New Delhi, India might be too exciting for some

Your comfort zone is there for a reason. For others, there are no boundaries as to where it ends and they are the most comfortable when they’re feeling that rush of adrenaline shoot through their body; for others, that zone is smaller – not necessarily completely restricted, but it might be more well-defined and harder to get out of.There shouldn’t be a feeling of obligation to do everything or to tick off all the same things off your bucket list as everybody else does. If you feel like some activities are way out of your comfort zone, you should be able to pass them without feeling like less of a traveller. After all, travelling the world should be enjoyable for you.

P8171717
About to go bobsledding in Sigulda, Latvia
whitsundays (115)
Whitsunday Islands, Australia

There is not one right way of adventuring or travelling, so it is also impossible to define, what a proper adventure should include. You don’t have to do everything that others are doing – I hope you don’t travel to impress others but to impress and challenge yourself, and only you can say what kind of challenges are hard enough for you. We shouldn’t let the romanticised ideas of adventure travel define our experiences that we make for ourselves. There are no must-do’s in any destination. When we find our absolute limit and find we shouldn’t go any further, we should stop pushing and enjoy the view from as far as we got. 

Travelling might be all about conquering your fears and thus becoming a better, stronger person, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to do something just because many others are doing it. Instead you should focus on finding your own style of adventure. I, for one, love heights. I’ve done one bungee jump and as nervous as I am to think of the World’s highest jump in New Zealand, I am pretty sure I would do it if given the opportunity. I would also be scared to skydive, but I know I would love the feeling of flying and falling from the top of the sky. These are the kinds of adventures I am looking forward to. Not the ones that leave me on the verge of a panic attack.

v5mTYiYdIMq8oCzrWgTCJBvmv5LcB-TgdyXCpKs9m0o
Riding ponies on the Indian Himalayas = scary
innes national park (35)
Hiking in Innes National Park, Australia

You know when you were fifteen and in sex ed they told you that if you’re more excited than scared to do it, you are probably ready to do it? That principle can be applied to a lot of situations in this life.

I didn’t give up on diving immediately. A few people from my cruise group agreed that our instructor had been rushing us through the orientation and seemed, in general, very short-spanned for mistakes. With this in mind, slightly blaming my failure on the rushed instruction, I gave diving a second chance about a week later. My diving instructor on the day cruise from Cairns was a soft-spoken, amiable man, but the second I tried pushing my face down into the swelling water, I started to panic. I tried it a few times until my body stopped obeying my orders and just stayed frozen on the surface. So I gave away my oxygen tank and exchanged it for a snorkel. My fear of diving came from the fear of losing control in a very uncontrollable environment underwater, so I found a way of exploring the reefs that suited me better.

Will I ever dive again? Never say never, but right now I am happy breathing the surface air. There are many wonders in the world to see – and only a fraction of them lie underwater.

reef (4)
Happy snorkeler near Cairns, Australia

Let me know what you think and if you have ever struggled with getting out of your comfort zone! I reply to every comment and would be interested in hearing your views.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “About the importance of knowing your comfort zone

  1. oho, tänne on tullut paljon tekstiä sillä aikaa kun olin reissussa! tämä on hirmu hyvä.
    minulle tulee mieleen oma kokemus nyt viime viikon patikkapolulta madeiralta (itäkärki, nimi taisi olla sao lourencon niemi, ja on suosittu reitti). se oli merkitty helpoksi reitiksi ja lähdettiin sinne innoissamme aurinkoisella säällä. vähän matkan kuluttua reitti nousi jyrkästi ylöspäin eikä siinä ollut kaiteita. oltiin aika lailla reitin alkupuolella (olikohan sillä mittaa yhteensä kai 6 kilometriä, ehkä kilometri kuljettuna, en tiedä vaan arvaan) mutta totesin että ei onnistu, kun loppuu kunto ja tasapaino tai jos ei ne niin ainakin usko niihin ja pelko putoamisesta tuli tilalle.
    tie haarautui siinä kohtaa ja toinen polku vei rantaan eikä näyttänyt hurjalta. menin sinne (siinäkin sai kyllä katsoa mihin astuu) ja ihastelin kauniita pyöreitä kiviä ja katselin siitä näkyviä maisemia ihan hyvän aikaa. ajattelin että ehkä joskus toisen kerran (ei nimittäin jää ainoaksi kukkaissaarivisiitiksi 😀 ) jos joskus on parempi kunto ja tasapaino niin sitten voi kävellä reittiä pitemmälle. tai sitten voi katsella niitä kaikkia monia muita levadapolkuja joita saarella kyllä riittää. kaikkien ei tarvitse käydä siellä reitin huipulla asti jos ei siltä tunnu.
    samalla tavalla voi varmaan ajatella matkustamistyylejä yleensä. toiset haluaa lähteä hurjille viiden viikon omatoimimatkoille intiaan ja myanmariin eksoottisiin paikkoihin ja minusta on hyvä että ne tekevät niin jos se on sitä mitä ne haluavat tehdä ja mistä ne nauttivat. mutta minusta on hyvä jos joku menee pakettimatkalle kanariansaarille ja nauttii siellä lämmöstä ja hotellin uima-altaasta ja on tyytyväinen. tai jos joku haluaa pysyä kotona eikä halua matkustaa minnekään ja nauttii siitä 🙂 matkustamisessa on minusta nauttimisen lisäksi tärkeää myös se että nauttiminen ei tapahdu paikallisten asukkaiden hyvinvoinnin kustannuksella vaan että huomioidaan heidät ja kulttuurinsa. periaatteella maassa maan tavalla.

    1. Kiva et oot päässy reissusta hyvin kotiin! Ja olikin ilmeisesti hyvä reissu, tuo Madeira olis kyllä mahtava kokea… Oon ihan samaa mieltä sun kanssa, kaikkien ei tarvitse matkustaa kaikkialla (tai välttämättä ollenkaan) kunhan keskittyy tekemään sit juttua mikä tekee onnelliseksi.

  2. I totally agree. I do things that challenge me but I also thinks it important to know and accept your limits, which are different for everyone. I’m terrified of diving for the same reasons that caused you to panic. Maybe one day, but for now I’m happy above the ocean!

    1. Thanks for your comment! It’s good to know that someone else out there too is not too happy with diving 🙂 I completely agree with you, so many good things on this side of the surface.

  3. Good for you for listening to yourself and not pushing yourself to do something that you weren’t ready to do 🙂 It’s great to step out of your comfort zone and to do things that scare you… but like you said, if you’re more scared than excited than there shouldn’t be any pressure to still do that activity. Travel should be enjoyable and exciting and not leave you feeling panicky. I have major respect for you 🙂

    1. Aww, thanks Ella for your awesome reply! I do think the most important thing is to be happy and not just do things for the sake of doing them.

Leave a little love! Drop a comment and I'll get back to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s