The photo is me, on September 17, 2010, rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with 17 complete strangers, on an 8 day camping trip, no cell phones, no hotel rooms, no cable TV, no hot showers, no bathrooms, no contact whatsoever with the outside world, no one else I knew, only the river, the raft, the guides, fellow photographers, and my camera. Literally, at the end of this journey, I had to step out of my comfort zone yet again, to make the right decision to put my beloved Zachary to sleep.
Life is full of choices and opportunities to step out of your comfort zone.
Are you willing to take those chances?
I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone, because I didn’t want to stay stuck, miserable and alone.
I was already miserable and alone.
I didn’t follow tradition, meet guy, fall in love, get married, have kids, live happily ever after (or not), followed by divorce (or not). I know a lot of people stay together because they are happy or for other reasons: the kids, the lifestyle, the convenience, and a whole lot of other not so good reasons. That is their prerogative, and a part of their life’s journey.
I met a guy and got married at 28, and had absolutely no business doing that. We were both emotionally broken and I was divorced a little over two years later when I was 30. I can honestly look back now, and say we were both equally to blame for the failure of our marriage. I have no ill will towards this man whatsoever. I am thankful we did not bring children into our union. In the meantime, all of my friends got married and started having babies, and my circle shrank and virtually disappeared.
Frankly, in my 20s and early 30s, I didn’t value myself enough to demand better treatment from a man. I put up with a man not showing up, or calling when he was supposed to. I was so starved for attention that I put up with a lot of stuff, and suffered through a lot of pain and depression because I was so desperate.
That despair and depression (and a LOT of counseling) finally led me to step back and realize I was worthy of being treated with respect and love and dignity, and until I valued and loved myself, no one else would.
My older (and much wiser) married friends and therapist kept saying: “Hey, stop complaining that all of your friends are married with kids.”
“Go carve out your own niche, your own slice of life, somewhere.”
It began slowly, day trips throughout Southern Maryland by myself to St. Clements Island, St. Mary’s City, Port Tobacco, Myrtle Grove, with my notebook and camera in tow.
I forced myself to go and eat at restaurants by myself, actually ask for a table for 1 and sit there without a book or other distraction, and experience the value of my own company.
Was it hard?
Yes, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
To sit still with just myself, and get to know me, value me, and above all appreciate my worth.
Now, I love that time alone, and I crave it.
I have no qualms about traveling to a foreign country by myself, or anywhere else for that matter.
I love traveling alone, although it rarely happens now.
It’s not easy stepping out of your comfort zone, but it is so freeing and liberating, and not always immediately successful.
However, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
But everyone should.
It’s all about baby steps, and when you fall, get back up,
And try again.
And realize YOU are enough.