Why Great Things Happen Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

by Caitlin Jill Anders

I started Googling quotes on bravery recently, and I came up with not very much at all.

It was all just a lot of important people reminding us to have courage; everything will be okay if we just take a deep breath and go.

We all know this. I know this, and it still doesn’t really help.

As I shakily and not very intelligently attempt to start my adult life, I’ve realized something: Life is f*cking scary.

Every day I am terrified. As unfair as it may be, I’m told we only get one life -- one chance, one shot. What if we f*ck it up?

The minutes tick by, and I don’t feel any closer to getting anything figured out.

I still don't have a bed frame and I only just got my own Netflix account. My status as an adult is still very fragile.

Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one who's terrified. From talking to friends, I know this isn’t true at all.

Still, social media makes it seem like everyone is happily living life with his or her sh*t figured out, like no one else is struggling.

People are taking steps toward making their lives happen and posting smiling photos of themselves and their gorgeous travel destinations and passionate lovers, while I’m over here adjusting to living in a new city and trying not to cry at cockroaches.

Everyone else seems so ready to jump into their futures, and I am too, I guess, but I’m scared.

Why am I scared, you say? Hell, why wouldn't I be?

There are so many decisions to make. We’re laughably young, and when were we supposed to learn how to do all of this stuff, anyway?

Suddenly every decision we make is important and has an impact on our lives. We graduate and we are all on our own.

Years pass after graduation, and we’re still on our own, still just figuring it out.

Amid all of these decisions, all of this figuring it out, what if we get it wrong? What if we don’t get it at all? It’s a very, very scary thought.

The secret is, we're not the only ones who don't have a clue. People at this phase in their life, or any phase really, who say they have it all figured out, are actively lying.

We meet some people our age and instantly resent them without really realizing it because they seem like they have everything figured out.

They’re the ones who got a job a week after graduation. They’re the ones who have been in a steady, happy relationship for years. They’re the ones who absolutely everyone knows, and everyone likes.

They’re the person you want to be, with the life you are trying to live. They are your 20-something role model – or at least, you think they are.

They also might be the one who is struggling immensely to make friends in a brand new city.

They also might be the ones who are staying in their relationship because they’re too comfortable to leave, even if they might want to.

They also might be the ones who are terrified that soon, all of these people who seem to love them so much will forget them.

They are the ones who, despite how they appear, are just as terrified as we are.

What we have to realize is, no one really has it all figured out. We only post the good things on social media.

We don’t usually post about the struggle to get to those good things. We post about the triumphs; we don’t post about the pain.

And, my goodness, there is a lot of pain. You don't realize something can be wonderful and painful at the same time, until you try to figure out where your life is going.

Despite how they appear, absolutely everyone is a little bit terrified of what’s to come, even if he or she maybe hasn't admitted it to themselves yet. And that’s okay.

Everyone around our age is in the same boat. We were all born around the same time, but maybe some of us were forced into adult life faster than others.

Maybe some of us are reaching our goals at a quicker pace. That doesn’t change that fact that we’re all 20-somethings, just trying to get by.

We might not know where we see ourselves in five years. We might know, and then decide we were wrong. We change our minds a lot. We make sh*tty choices.

It’s a lot less scary when we realize no one is as put together as they seem.

Someone told me recently, from looking at my Facebook and other social media, I seemed to have it all figured out and she was so jealous.

I could have cried because she was so wrong, and I was so glad I wasn't the only one thinking I was "the only one."

Life is terrifying, but the fear is worth it, and that’s why we keep going. My best friend always says to follow the fear, and it's true.

We follow the fear, of all the things we might not be, and it takes us where we need to go.

I was walking through the city at night with my sister and she said she sort of knew where she was going, but mostly she was following me. I

n that second I realized, yes, I did know where I was going, sort of, for that moment, at least.

And so, like they all say to do, I took a deep breath and I went.

I led the two of us through the crowds and down 42nd street, into the station and to the train, and right then I thought that at least for now I sort of -- probably, absolutely, who the f*ck knows but maybe -- know where I'm going.

It's just for that moment, but that's okay. Moments can turn into a lifetime, you know.