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Pushing beyond your limits

What is our limit? Can it actually be defined?

Recently, I’ve been inspired by people around me who’ve been pushing beyond their limits to try new things that are outside their comfort zone. Some of these stories include: nate2timez releasing his first vocal track, Type R, under Nate FreezeAndy Quan releasing his first vocal track this week, which is a remix cover of ‘Hope, Truth & Iodine‘ by Frank Joshua. One of my besties finally voiced her feelings for someone she’s been crushing over for the longest time. And a colleague who quit their job to go back to school for the career they’ve always wanted. 

What impresses me is the power of the mind and how each of us do have the ability to achieve anything if we put our minds to it. Granted, I am not saying that if you believe in the manifestation philosophy or positive re-enforcement, then you are guaranteed success. That isn’t what I’m hinting at. Rather, it’s the fact that if we can convince ourselves to give things a try (or do something different), then we can open ourselves to new opportunities. Now, whether that ‘thing’ we are convincing ourselves to do turns out good or bad (that’s not being considered here!) is up to the amount of effort we put into it.

The biggest challenge for most of us when we step out of our comfort zone is getting to that initial first step. It’s almost like our minds built an invisible wall and until we put a crack in it, we aren’t going to budge. It takes a lot of courage to get to that first step, but once we do, we typically don’t turn back right away (at least we try not too since we already went past the barrier) – this is where the effort comes in to play.

I lived a very closed life as a child and raised by traditional parents. Not like they’ve sheltered me from everything, but they preferred the simple lifestyle of work/school, eat, and sleep. My parents saw ‘arts’ as a time waster, so only after I’ve finished everything was I allowed to enjoy my 3 top companions: music, writing, and drawing. So, admittedly, I was trying to be sneaky when I got my first walkman. I would turn the music very low (so nobody could hear that I’m listening), and quietly sang along to my favourite songs. My siblings didn’t want to sing along with me when we listened to music together on weekends, and the school I went to was focused on band instruments rather than choir. So, I never really had a chance to publicly sing, and over time, I’ve become embarrassed of my own voice. 

The first time I ever heard my voice recorded was when I said my Valedictorian speech in Grade 8. My parents recorded my speech, and I watched it a few years later. It was hard listening to my own voice, not that it was necessarily ‘bad,’ but it was ‘awkward.’ Though, I think that made things worse when it came to getting over my fear of singing publicly or speaking for a recorded function. Even to this day, when I hear my own voice (and it’s just talking!) on podcasts, I shake my head and say to myself: “oh gosh, I sound like that!?!” … but I still do it anyways, even if I feel weird about the whole thing.

I had my fair share of speaking engagements throughout university. Attended several conferences that required me to speak in front of hundreds of people. That was probably the first time I’ve been really pushed out of my comfort zone. The Valedictorian speech was the first (technically), but I was presenting my speech in front of people I knew (my fellow classmates and their families), so it didn’t seem too bad. 

Looking back, I remember what I was going through. I felt really nervous and if it wasn’t for my thesis supervisor, I probably would have gave up on the opportunity. You know, throw in the towel and give some excuse like, “Sorry, I’m not allowed to travel, so I’m not going to the conference to present my research.”

Actually, I did sort of try that on him (because I was that nervous), by hinting a hypothetical situation (I know, amateur move Doris!) – though, the advice he gave me was a game changer. 

The only way to break away from your comfort zone is to pushing yourself to be open to change. It’s great for things to always be the same, but then life would be boring. You can never improve, and you can never find out what is better than where you are right now. If you opened up to give things a try, even if it’s super uncomfortable, then at least you’ve tried it. Then you can say that you didn’t like it – that’s fine. But the best thing you can do for yourself now is to train yourself to be comfortable to change. Once you do, everything will just fall in its place and you’ll figure it out. 

I’ve been coming back to this life advice for many challenges I’ve faced since my first conference presentation. And every time, my supervisor’s words have pushed me forward to take that first step and reach new horizons. Every time.

So, do we have our own limits? I don’t think we do. What we can do is limitless, but it’s whether we actually do it is the better question. 

I encourage everyone to question their limits. To push whenever you think you can’t. And to just go for it if the opportunity is right. I’ve been pushing my boundaries a lot in the past few years. I finally felt comfortable enough to publish my own book, connect with people, and share my views with the world. Honestly, I used to frown away from social media and sharing personal stories because I felt uncomfortable telling others about myself. Oh come on, my life isn’t really that interesting! 

But, I’ve realized that it’s not necessarily the fact of whether your life is interesting or not that makes it worth talking about. If you want to share, then you should. If you feel sharing something can help someone, even if it’s just put a smile on their face or give someone some entertainment, then do it. 

Don’t let things that are ‘different’ make you feel uncomfortable. For all you know, you might actually enjoy that ‘uncomfortable thing’ more than you could imagine. 

Now I just need to convince myself to feel comfortable singing, dancing, and voice acting publicly because I secretly enjoy doing those things (but am still too embarrassed to share it with anyone other than my son since we enjoy being silly together). 

Once you’ve done it once, you’ll be more likely to do it again. After all, if I never pushed my boundaries, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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