Outside My Comfort Zone: New Friends
Here's the thing: I am extremely introverted and shy (often painfully so). Throw in some social anxiety, too, and it's the perfect storm. Granted, once I get to know people, I loosen up and feel comfortable speaking up and being silly.
So, as you can imagine, moving to a new city without knowing a single person was difficult (read: it was horrible and I spent a lot of nights crying and watching re-runs of Grey's Anatomy in my lonely apartment).
Well, almost two years later, I can now comfortably say that I have three solid best friends in San Diego. Thanks to my first job (which was full of people my age) and November Project. Beyond that, I definitely have friends and acquaintances and a network in San Diego...but aside from these three, there's not many people I'd feel comfortable asking to randomly hang out, go on runs with me...and share my life story/share my daily struggles and wins and thoughts with.
I definitely believe that quality friendships outweigh quantity of friendships...but when these three people are gone or busy, I often feel lonely and question if I really do have friends in San Diego. I often revert to crying watching Grey's Anatomy, longing for the same crew I had in Nashville...then crying about how pathetic I feel missing college friends so much and not moving on with my life. This eventually turns into crying about feeling so shy and so uncomfortable about asking new people to hang out. It's a vicious (and often, self-inflicted cycle).
Over the last few weeks, I'd been feeling particularly lonely. One friend was spending time with her boyfriend before he deploys, another was on vacation and another was swamped with work. After some griping to myself and in line with my mantra last month of owning my dreams (even if it's silly personal dreams like having people to connect with!), I decided to try 2 weeks of really pushing my comfort zone (and shyness...and social anxiety) and ask some new people to hang out (and finally accept invites to plans that made me nervous). Crying about not knowing anyone wasn't getting me anywhere, clearly, so off I went to try to make new friends or deepen some connections.
So, three weeks later, I have now gone out on a Friday night with new people, worked remote with a couple at a coffee shop, sat at a table at an editorial meeting with people I'd never met, ran with a lady I admire and want to be better friends with, reached out to a blogger who I wanted to network with and went running with her and went to a play with another friend I want to be better friends with. I made active efforts to invite acquaintances to yoga with me and spoke to new people at November Project each morning.
As much fear as I had about feeling desperate or annoying or awkward when initiating plans, all of these went swimmingly, of course (because, I always prove my stupid fears wrong somehow). And, the invites have been reciprocated, the conversations have become more fluid and my confidence has grown (a little).
Removing my safety blanket of the few friends I felt comfortable with and moving beyond my comfort zone is scary and awkward...but I've been seeing it pay off. I'm slowly realizing that my comfort zone was limiting who I connected with. The best growth comes outside your comfort zone. You never know till you try, right?
How are you pushing your comfort zone?