Beyond The Comfort Zone

We all have a comfort zone where we feel the safest. When you are in the zone, you feel like nothing and nobody can hurt you. That is a very powerful feeling. It’s like a warm, cozy blanket wrapped around you, keeping out everyone that might cause you pain. But sometimes being in the zone can be more harmful than getting yourself out and about.  You become angry and suspicious, and fear takes over your life. In the past, this fear has been my excuse not to reach out to other people. I was afraid that if I open up and try to make a new friend, something bad will happen. I have been hurt in the past by those I thought were my friends, and I just wasn’t going to go through that again. But God sometimes has other plans for you and your family.

There has been something I have learned over the past few years. If you put yourself out there, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you might just be surprised at the joy you can feel when you toss off that blanket and step away. I am so used to my own routines and my own expectations, that I wasn’t fully ready to embrace what God was trying to tell me about friendship: God helps those who help themselves. By that, I mean, I needed to take the first step. Instead of saying “no” to something new, I actually took a few minutes to think about it. Several years ago, our kids won 2 baseball games that on paper, they never should have won. Normally after a game, I am ready to take off and head to the safety of my own home. My husband, on the other hand, has to hang around and talk with the guys go over each and every ball, strike, and out. Normally I just wait in the car until he is finished. Well, after those past few games, I actually stood around and interacted with the coaches, and a few Moms. Lo and behold, things started changing.

Normally, when I am at a game, I have my head buried in a book until the game starts, and then I just focus on cheering on my son. Lately, things were different because I have been making the effort to talk to more of the parents, and even the siblings of the team. Now, games are spent talking, laughing, cheering, instead of being in a corner by myself. Why? Because I stopped expecting people to know what I wanted, and made the first move. Your body language says a lot more than you think. If you close yourself off, people will just leave you alone because that is what you are projecting.

After those two unlikely wins, one of the parents invited DH, myself, and the boys back to their house for a celebration. Normally we’d just say no and go home. However, God must have been working in both our hearts that night, because we said yes. Let me tell you, it was the most fun we have had in a long time! The kids all played together for 4 straight hours after just playing a 3 hour baseball game. They got along. They worked together. They looked out for each other. They said they couldn’t wait to do it again. We learned a lot from our kids that night. Imagine looking at your watch and seeing that it was past 11pm, and not once did you think about going home.

Fast forward to this year.  These people, whom I never would have thought I had anything in common with, have turned out to be great friends.  It’s no longer just a baseball family, as gatherings have been expanded to include birthday parties, pool parties, and holiday parties as well.  And it all happened because the kids wanted to get together and play baseball after the game. It’s amazing what children can teach you about life, friends, and living.

So some things to remember when you want to start friendships with others:

*Just say “YES”~instead of immediately saying no, stop and take a moment to think things over. Talk it over with your spouse, their answer may just surprise you!

*Watch your body language~You may think you are open to new people and experiences, but your body is telling people otherwise. If you are closed off, no one will approach you.

*Make the first move~go over and talk to people, don’t wait for them to come to you. If they don’t want to reciprocate, then move on. And try not take their response personally. There may be something else going on in their lives that make attempts at communication unwelcome, at that moment.

*If you need something, ask!!~people are not mind readers. It’s not fair to others or yourself to expect them to know what you need, or what you like or dislike. By being upfront, you can save yourself a world of hurt.

*Above all, enjoy yourself~by just sitting back and observing, you can often find a zone of comfort that allows you to interact on your own terms.

It’s never easy making changes, especially when it comes to making friends. In this life, it’s often easier to go with the flow than try something new. But that often leaves us empty and wanting more. Be friends to all that cross your path. You never know if one of those people will just become that lifelong friends you have been asking for!

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  1. says

    I am so you. Well, the old you. lol Thank you for posting this for I think this may be my new goal this year. Sometimes I think it’s because I take things like friendship quite seriously–it’s an investment in a very crammed world. I got so sick of giving to people that just consumed….I rather stopped.

    Thanks for voicing so eloquently the reality that is….we reap what we sow. :)
    Chantel recently posted..Within Your GraspMy Profile

  2. says

    That is awesome to hear. I am too gun shy at this point in life to WANT to make friends IRL. Besides just being too busy and wanting any ‘down time’ to be spent with my hubby, I’ve just been burned one time too many. I think this is a fantastic article, though… great points and suggestions! Especially the ‘watch your body language’, this one definitely fits me. I’m often told that I’m intimidating and unapproachable, I must watch that when I’m trying to be friendly!
    Byn recently posted..Bean’s Monkey Business: Bean Reads “Go Dog Go” by P.D. Eastman with AbyniMy Profile

  3. says

    Fabulous suggestions and cheers to you for stepping out of your comfort zone, making great friends and writing so eloquently about it. I so enjoy my alone time after working all week, but once I’m with my friends on the weekends, I just have the best time. Friends rock!
    Patricia recently posted..Friendship? Yes, please.My Profile

  4. says

    It is hard to move forward with people when those you called “friend” does something that shatters your belief in people. Fortunately that is not everyone. It is a great thing to meet new people and become friends. I’m happy that you were able to rip off that blanket and put yourself out there. As you see, you were pleasantly surprised! The great thing about kids too is that they don’t have those experiences yet to take things personally. We learn a lot from them!

    #ImEveryWoman Issue 10
    Arelis Cintron recently posted..I think I broke it…My Profile

  5. says

    Good for you for pushing yourself and for finding such nice people to build a friendship with. I think as adults it does become harder to make new friends, but I’ve always noticed that adults with kids tend to have it a bit easier because of all of the opportunities that the kids activities create.

    Great to connect with you through Corina’s blog hop.
    Have a good weekend!
    Sicorra recently posted..Tips For Saving Money After You’ve Been Hurt on the JobMy Profile

  6. says

    This is so great that you were able to reach out to people. I just got back from a blogging conference & felt socially awkward there at first. I learned to approach strangers, introduce myself, and have a chat. Guess what? They were human too! I really enjoyed the conversations with them and look forward to keeping in contact after the conference. I surprised myself and it was a happy surprise!
    Maggie@SquarePennies recently posted..10 Time Management Tips from Personal Finance Bloggers: #FinCon13 EditionMy Profile

  7. says

    I can see myself at one of my kid’s game up at the top bleacher not socializing, I would do that too. I’m normally a private person but now that I’m blogging, it’s taught me to be more open and social….we have to be in this business, right?

    I think it was great of you to open up like that. It’s encouraging for private folks like me to give it a chance ourselves. Thanks for sharing those tips!

    Have a great weekend Jen!
    Corina Ramos recently posted..I’m Every Woman Weekly Issue #10My Profile

  8. says

    Hi – I can really relate to this post because I’ve suffered from social anxiety for much of my life and often found it very difficult to reach out to people – as you say, when you feel like that, you often don’t realise that you’re inadvertently giving off very negative vibes, and you need to have the courage to loosen up, open up and reach out – the response you then get is often a pleasant surprise :)
    Susan Neal recently posted..15 Beliefs To Supercharge Your Writing CareerMy Profile

  9. says

    Great points! Tending more towards the reserved side, I have to step out of my comfort zone in nearly every new social setting, But when I do, it’s amazing how most times, it’s all good. I had a similar experience with my son’s soccer. A mom that I just never thought I would “enjoy” turns out to be wonderful – once I opened up and started talking with her. Turns out, she was more on the reserved side too!
    Happy Monday!
    Carol B recently posted..Six Fun And Family Friendly Adventures In and Around La Fortuna, Costa RicaMy Profile


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