You know that movie Yes Man? Where Jim Carrey decides he will say yes to every single request or opportunity that presents itself?
This year of my life I’ve been trying to take a leaf out of his book and say yes to things. Not everything. But I realized this past year that the old cliche of “growth happens when you leave your comfort zone” is actually super true. Working in a drug/alcohol rehab center with teenagers required me to pretty much obliterate my comfort zone. I didn’t inch out of it so much as jump off a cliff with a very small parachute and fly away from it. By nature, I am non-confrontational and like to keep people happy. I’m sensitive and acutely aware of the emotions of those around me. I am not in recovery myself, nor have I had any violent encounters in my life, trauma, gang affiliation, or homelessness. Guess what? Almost all of my young clients had seen things and been through situations that would break your heart and shock your senses the first time you heard their stories. We had gang-related fights happen – with only me to respond to them at first before calling other staff for help. Angry kids would threaten to beat you up. You’d get cussed at. You’d talk girls through things you had no idea how to handle – the news that their best friend was shot and killed on the streets, the revelation that they had an STD and their boyfriend had been sleeping around, a flashback to the time their boyfriend stabbed someone in front of their eyes and then threatened them so they’d not report it. Never have I dealt with so much anxiety on my part. This was not just perfectionism; I loved these girls with my whole heart and felt a duty to give them 100% because they needed help.
Have you ever done something that required every single ounce of your knowledge, skill, courage, empathy, patience, education, instinct and common sense? Have you ever been pushed that hard? It sounds a little absurd, since it’s not like I became a Navy SEAL or something. But to be a successful staff member in the job I was in took EVERYTHING I had to offer. It was hard, it was stressful and it was insane.
I have NEVER grown so much.
I honestly couldn’t believe how much I learned and changed and grew. God used that difficult experience to push me so hard I rose to the occasion. In the end, I left after a year and a few months, because I didn’t feel that it was entirely healthy to be so anxious, and there was a lot of drama on the employee side of things. But this taught me something so valuable. Get outside your comfort zone = figure out what you’re made of. Grow. Expand.