My comfort zone is a very nice, safe, cozy spot.
It includes my home, where I homeschool our two daughters and share life with my husband. There’s our church, which we’ve been attending for years, and a number of friends that I’ve known for over a decade. We live in a city that I’ve navigated for over 20 years. It’s all that’s familiar and expected and comfortable.
And while I love my comfort zone, I’ve realized that, in order for me to grow personally, I occasionally need to step out and try something new.
Now in this stage of life, it’s not going to be bungee jumping or mountain climbing. It’s going to have more to do with little challenges like meeting new people, functioning in different settings, learning a new skill. It will involve pushing this “most-of-the-time” introvert out of the house and into the world at large.
That’s why I included in my 2014 goals taking a cooking class. While I cook nearly every day of my life, I could definitely learn some new techniques and would welcome ways to experiment with different foods. However, I knew it would involve being in a classroom setting as a student – something that hasn’t happened in many years – and being forced to interact with strangers. Putting it on my goal list meant that I would feel the pressure of accountability and actually make myself do it!
So last week I braved this assignment and headed off one evening to our local technical college to take a class titled 30-Minute Meals. The start to the night was not promising; traffic was heavy in that area due to a bomb scare, so while I made it to the building with two minutes to spare, I was not prepared for all the hallways I had to wander through to get to the classroom. The place was huge!!
Needless to say, I was a few minutes late – which I hate. I got signed in and tied my apron on just in time to start the cooking. And I am happy to report that I enjoyed myself!! I worked with a lady just a bit older than myself and a young college-age girl. We prepped, cooked, and ate two meals – one of which included quinoa, a food which I’d never tasted before, but am definitely adding to our menu.
|I made this beef stir fry for supper last night and served it over quinoa. It was one of the recipes we cooked in class.|
So what did I learn from this experience? Here are four takeaways.
1. I always want to be learning and growing. This doesn’t only have to take place in a classroom. I can read a book or watch a video about a subject that interests me.
2. You can make a friend anywhere. When class was over, I walked out to the parking lot (which is quite large and surrounds the building on three sides) with my older cooking partner. She couldn’t remember exactly where she parked, so I drove her around the parking lot for a couple of minutes until she located her car. We got to laugh together about our aging memory skills.
3. Trying new things can yield unexpected pleasures. I wasn’t surprised that I like quinoa, but bok choy?!! I’d never eaten that before either, and when the instructor referred to it as similar to cabbage, I was less than impressed. However, when we cooked it in a stir fry, I thought it was delicious!
4. The best part of my comfort zone is the people who share it with me. When I walked in the door that night, my husband and our girls were in the living room watching the Olympics together. They had cleaned up the kitchen and everything in the house was in order. Coming home to them was the best part of my night!
Stepping outside of your comfort zone may involve doing something much different than what I did. When our children were younger, I likely wouldn’t have tackled taking a class. However, whatever stage of life we’re in, there’s always room to learn and grow. It could be something as simple as serving in a different ministry at church or introducing yourself to a new neighbor or shopping at a different grocery store.
I’d like to take another cooking class this summer – and am going to be looking for other ways to step outside of my comfort zone. Let me know what you might want to try that’s outside of your comfort zone!