Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Out of your comfort zone

Apparently you should do one thing every day that scares you.

When you live and work in another culture, you come across plenty of opportunities for stepping out of your comfort zone. One example is attempting to speak the local language. It's likely that words will be mispronounced or used in the wrong context. I’ve certainly tried words in Bemba and ended up looking or sounding rather silly! But on the other hand, there are also occasions when it's easy to stay within your comfort zone and avoid taking a risk. It’s natural to find comfort in familiarity.

Scary faces

 Everyone has a different comfort zone. One of my friends who came to visit me here in Zambia actually has a fear of flying. I was amazed that despite her fear, she flew from London to Ndola via Johannesburg and even took an internal flight on a very small aircraft. At first, some of the children at school were fearful about getting into the pool to learn to swim. It took them a while and they held on tightly to an adult, but they did it. For me personally, I love travelling and swimming but there are other things that do scare me just a little bit.

A friend that travelled to Zambia despite her fear of flying

I've tried to make sure that I step out of my comfort zone at certain times and on other occasions I have simply had to. Ridiculous as it may seem, I dislike insects and have on several occasions been scared of little critters that are far smaller than me; particularly scorpion spiders that are astonishingly quick and can climb walls! My usual approach is to just deal with it by killing them as quickly as possible. I wasn’t quite as cool, calm and collected when I found a mouse running around my house here – my approach to this was standing on the sofa and screaming!

Clearly not so scared of snakes!

After just one term of living in Zambia, I went on a trip to Kazembe and certainly felt out of my comfort zone. Once we arrived there my friend who had organised the trip announced that I would be leading the team in groups around the town and to the clinic, to talk about faith and pray for people. It would have been far easier for me not to do it, but we ended up being able to encourage lots of people and see an instant improvement in some of them. Doing a bungee jump over the Zambezi River in Livingstone also scared me a bit. Not in a petrified way, more exhilarating. There's something about adventurous activities like skydiving and white water rafting that appeals to me. It makes you feel alive.

Preparing to bungee

If I’m honest, I wasn’t even sure about writing a blog when I first came to Zambia. How do you know if you’ll have anything to say? How do you know if anyone will want to read it? But I’m certainly glad I took that risk. It has been a great way of sharing lots of things that are going on here and keeping friends and family at home updated. I’ve realised I seem to spend a lot of my time communicating with people in different ways, so I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t have enough to say about my time here.

As school teachers we regularly try to push children out of their comfort zone and tell them that it’s okay to make mistakes, because we see the potential they can achieve. But we have to model it to them too. Many a time in the classroom, children have helped me with this by pointing out that I've made a mistake!

Eager faces ready to learn something new

Making our own choice to step out of our comfort zone, gives us the opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Yes, there’s a chance you’ll fail or won’t enjoy it but there is also a chance you will. Living and working here has taught me that when we step out of our comfort zone, we usually find that we can achieve so much more than we think. 


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