2013 was a special year for me. I attribute the hardest, happiest and most hilarious year of my life (yet) to a bold pact I made on New Years Eve in 2012. It made such an incredible impact on my life, I feel that others may also find it helpful.
Every day in 2013 my friend Ally and I committed to:
- Doing something new
- Doing something different from our daily routine
- Or, something outside our comfort zone (this was the one we wanted to steer toward the most).
We also agreed to be accountability partners and we checked in every day via text (we live in different cities and time zones).
For three hundred and sixty five days straight my phone alarm punctuated my life at 11PM with the most important question of all,
“How did you grow today?”
And although it was 365 of the most interesting, challenging, weird, and wacky trips around the sun…. it was the best gift I ever gave myself.
I can tell you from surviving this zany experience; when you’ve got 365 chances to shine a spotlight on all your fears, or go somewhere you’ve never been, you better hold on to yer britches.
This challenge not only impacted Ally and I, but we are happy to report it had a ripple effect and touched many other people in our lives (and total strangers). One instance even resulted in a professor Ally knows who heard of our challenge assigning her entire college class to do 5 things outside of their comfort zone and document the experience. One student connected with her estranged mother, while many others told the professor it was their favorite assignment all semester.
In the beginning I thought that this was an experiment that I gave myself, but what I learned in the end was it was also a gift I gave to others.
Doing things outside of your comfort zone not only brings growth and happiness to YOUR life but those around you. You become a better version of yourself.
Even more interesting.
Even more dynamic.
Those closest to me got to tag along on quirky adventures, experience more of my playful side, and see a lot more vulnerability that would not have happened without this challenge.
As a reflection on this experience, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories with you. I hope that by giving you a peek into what I experienced you will see all the incredible things that live has to offer if
…you consciously make it a mission to abandon your comfort zone.
Thank you to the friends and family who took the time to ask me with a sparkle in their voice, “What did you do today?” because they cared. Thank you to the innocent bystanders who may realize after reading this they were a participant in my sneaky experiment. And thank you to the people who said no to me, who scared the hell out of me, and took me to places I’ve never been, and a few places I never wish to return.
Enjoy this highlight real of the hardest and happiest year of my life.
Some were fun and quirky. Like picking up these Canadian hitchhikers… who then serenaded me all the way out of town with their ukuleles.
Attending new events led me to one of the funniest night of the year, a regional mustache competition. Mind you, I was feeling sleepy and lazy this night but made myself go for our fear challenge. #gigglesgallore
I bought a bike, started riding group rides in my city, and clocked in over 300 miles over the summer. (Not bad for someone who is athletically challenged) 😉
Speaking of bikes, I also connected with a local custom bike builder and asked to ride with him in this HUGE snake bike in a local parade. It was weird…. and friggin’ awesome.
I sought out the most eclectic experiences I could, like the Honk ATX festival that brought this fellow to town.
I checked off my dream date list “Night time Picnic with a Southern Gentleman”
I lost a lot of sleep just to stay awake with great company and watched many unforgettable sunrises.
I checked off the the top city on my to-visit bucket list, New Orleans!
I bravely tried new fashion endeavors that made me uncomfortable, and bought my first skirt ever! 2015 Update: I now love skirts even more than anything else in my closet!
Started committing my life to experiencing more art and getting off my couch to actually support local working artists.
Speaking of going to events… I made myself go out ALONE a LOT. It was hard, and I felt like a freak…. But eventually it got easier. And, I discovered it was the best way ever to meet new people because you are FORCED to talk to strangers. #creeperinthecorner
I went on my first tandem bike ride with the Texas School For The Blind. I also lucked out and got the daredevil of the group, Cameron on my first ride ever. It was terrifying.
Oh yeah, I made the paper and news… for good things. My Mom and Grams were proud. I was kind of embarrassed…
I made more time for things that make me happy… like great photo ops and beautiful street art.
I worked on awesome art projects with really talented people.
I rode my first bucking bull (I’m an official Texan now y’all!)
I took classes with people way smarter than myself and learned new skills. (Check that skirt y’all!)
I took a spontaneous date invite instead of going home and putting my pajamas on. That led to me falling head over heals for a fellow. He even liked my cooking. See?
I did a little road tripping to ridiculous roadside attractions.
I booked a last minute trip to Portland and checked the #2 place to-visit place off my bucket list. #boom
I left late night chalk messages for strangers, an item that had been collecting dust on my bucket list for ages.
And one of the scariest (yet most memorable of all) – I rode around the city in the world naked bike ride with a few hundred other nearly naked people wearing only this…
Oh yeah, and I launched this blog. Something I had wanted to do for 2 silly years but was terrified to do. #BIGDUMBFEAR
What you won’t see pictured are the some of the hardest things I did.
Asking for a raise.
Standing up for myself when I was afraid.
Going to vulnerable places in conversation with uncomfortable honesty.
Admitting big secrets and insecurities to Ally, others and myself.
And asking people way out of my league on dates. (Have you seen the babes that live in Austin?!)
Though the photos tell a beautiful story, I want you to know it was not easy. Things got messy many times. There were tears. And heartbreak (pancake boy). And self doubt. But, there was also incredible joy. Triumphant bounce backs. And sweet sweet victories. I’ve never fallen asleep so fulfilled in my life as I did this last year.
I want you to know you don’t have to be fearless to try new things. You’ve just got to want the experience more than you are afraid of it.
We are all traveling the road between who we think we are and who we can be. It’s a beautiful tension in our lives. Let it pull you forward into a world that is abundant with unforgettable experiences. The only person holding you back… is you.
I want you to fall asleep knowing that the day was everything you could make it.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear my friends. Go get it, and have a good damn time while you do.
Update :: Because this challenge got so much response from others who wanted to do something similar but weren’t quite sure where to start, I created a follow up post titled 100 Things to Do Outside of Your Comfort Zone.
Hopefully this will help you get started on your own journey with some fun ideas that you can try out. If you ever have any questions or would love to share your stories about your own experience, please email me at kendra (at) heykendra (dot) com.
Soundtrack to writing these words ::
Theory of A Deadman – Santa Monica
Johnny Cash – Hurt