Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Originally published on 2-21-13
A few weeks ago I joined a new fancy gym and thought there was no question I’d be in the top 10% of the fitness level. I mean, I practice yoga, I‘ve run races, cycled in races, run 10ks in my sleep, I’m a Tough Mudder for crying out loud! I got this! No problem!
So I looked over the class schedule and decided the first class I would take was Total Conditioning. I showed up to class, assessed the room and the people in the room and assumed my space in the front row.
It’s probably not a surprise that I spend most of my life in both the literal and hypothetical front row. I’ve always wanted to learn and inch forward and improve, even in something as trivial as gym class.
It was a noon class and I looked around at thought, “don’t these people work?” Then I thought, “alright Instructor Jodi, let’s see what you’ve got.” Kayne was blaring in the background and we were movin’ and grovin’. Side steps, pump those arms, add a hop, and keep it moving! 300 seconds into the warm up, I thought, “Oh shit, Jodi’s going to whoop me!” My heart rate was at 165 and my max is 195. Then after 10 minutes, the Jodi asked, “Are we ready to get started?” I thought, “Crap lady, if we haven’t started yet, I may collapse by the end of the class!” From what I could tell I was the least in shape of anyone in the room. It was nuts!
I was struggling, breathing deeply, face red as a beet, getting dizzy, seeing grey and maybe black. I looked like a buffoon, but I kept going. My arms and legs were flailing around, at one point I lost all control of the motion of my legs on each karate kick, I was just throwing my legs in the air willy-nilly. I walked out 60 minutes later a hot mess. It was the longest 60 minute gym class ever.
So a few days later, I went again, and posted up in the front row. My sheer determination to be better said “Do not wuss out, you’d better stay in the front row. Moving to the middle or back would be conceding defeat!” So again, I endured 60 minutes of heart pumping workout. It was murder, and I was real glad no one in the class knew me by name.
But something happened in this class, in the middle of lunges with weights on our shoulders, just when I thought my butt muscles were going to spontaneously combust because they burned so bad, the instructor yelled out, “GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE, THAT’S WHERE THE CHANGE HAPPENS! WHEN YOU WALK OUT OF HERE WILL YOU BE ABLE TO TELL YOURSELF THAT WAS THE BEST YOU COULD DO?” And a light went off in my head and I thought, “No I won’t, I know I have about 15% more to give.” Jodi continued yelling over Beyoncé lyrics, “You’re already here, you’re here for 60 minutes, and you may as well get the most out of it!” If I could have OOH-RAHed in the moment, I would have.
Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking, get comfortable being uncomfortable. I can do that. After all, any time something magical has happened it’s been in moments that are outside of my comfort zone. For me, life changing break throughs have been when I’ve summed up courage and guts and moxie and energy to say screw it….let’s do this.
Don’t be afraid of that. It won’t feel good every second of the way, but who cares, there’s always an end to the icky feeling and at the end of the icky feeling is pure “aaaahhhhh.”
It’s like driving through downpour and then seeing a rainbow, it’s like giving birth and then getting to hold your baby, it’s like being scared being scared to ask for a raise, doing it anyways and succeeding, it’s like going on a first date with a man who doesn’t respond your regular shtick –being forced to be yourself—and then figuring out he’s the love of your life (yesterday morning we talked about new houses and babies). It’s like forcing yourself to get up off the couch after you get home from work put your bra back on and go out and make friends when you move to a new city, then finding your kindred spirit.
It always take a little courage and you already have all the courage you need, there’s a land of joy out there, waiting for you to enjoy it.
You’re already on this earth; you may as well make the most of it. Are you giving the best you have to offer? On your last day, will you be able to say, I gave it all I had? It matters not that you’re the best in class, all that matters is that you are getting all that you can and all that you want out of your 60 minutes.