How (and Why) to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

Aug 8, 2016 | Hurray for Lingerie, Hurray Vacay, Inside, Outside, Puerto Rico Vacay, Swimwear, Underneath, Yoga | 1 comment

I’m back from my #HurrayVacay to Puerto Rico and I have a lot to share with you. This trip was filled with highs and lows, hurrays and what-the-hays. The entire experience was a big lesson in finding, stepping out of, and redefining my comfort zone. I came back a stronger, braver, and more open person. For sure. And though it was tough at the time, I completely recognize the importance of going outside my comfort zone.

The truth is, comfort zones are traps. That’s right, I said it. Staying comfortable means not growing. And not growing means not living. It’s as simple as that. So live a little, and say hurray for stepping out of your comfort zone!

Style note: the Maximum Support Air Control sports bra and matching bottom above are the styles from Anita. This sports bra is super supportive for A to G cup sizes, but feels light as air. Love that it’s so breathable for that hot hot hot Puerto Rico weather.

{Psssssst! I’m hosting another Hurray Vacay Giveaway, this time with the brand that makes the fabulous sports bras, swimsuits, and lingerie you’ll see in this post, Anita. Want to enter to win a $250 shopping spree? Hop over to the giveaway page – after you’ve read this great post, of course.}

Find and define your comfort zones

Here’s an important question: do you know where your comfort zone is? We have a different zone where we feel good, safe, and comfortable for pretty much every aspect of our lives. For example, your comfort zone for climbing mountains may be bigger or different than your comfort zone for speaking in public. And not only does it vary from thing to thing; it varies from person to person. Your comfort zone for climbing mountains and speaking in public may be opposite of mine. Ex: I am not an avid climber, but put a camera on me and I’m like HAAAAAYYY HURRRRAY!

Don’t assume you know. The only way to find out where your zone is, and where it ends, is to test it. I made a big assumption when I was in Puerto Rico that my comfort zone for water sports was pretty small. I am not an avid swimmer (I still have to plug my nose and keep my eyes closed when I go underwater!) and I have a little fear of fish or other sea creatures biting me. So though I love the ocean and other salt waters, I’m not one to dive deep and play all day in the water. So when Becky, my photographer, said we should try stand up paddle boarding, I assumed this was really far outside of my comfort zone. In addition to not being super water savvy, I also made the assumption that my core strength and balance weren’t “good enough” to stay on the board without falling in.
Kimmay learning to paddle board on Outside your comfort zone Hurray Kimmay blogSo. Here we were, on a small beach in Rincón, Puerto Rico, and I was getting a quick lesson in stand up paddle boarding and about to try it for my very first time ever. In my underwear. With a photographer following me around. And an audience. Yep! I’d say being in my colorful Anita sports bra and matching undies, with a professional photographer following me around kinda made a scene. The pressure was on. I have about 1239812938 photos of me looking terrified and nervously laughing in the short lesson I took. The instructor asked if I wanted the details in Spanish or English, and I opted for English, just to be certain I would really understand.

Kimmay heading off to paddle board -Hurray Kimmay blog

In the end, I took a deep breath, floated out into the water, and said “OK, Kimmay, let’s do this.” With all eyes on me, I paddled out into the warm water, and then laid my paddle down as I was instructed. Remembering the lesson, I put my hands where my feet would go, and then got up onto one, and then two feet. Slowly, remembering to breathe, I stood up, taking the paddle with me. Knees bent, eyes forward, deep breaths, slow paddling, smile on my face, sun on my body… I DID IT! 

Kimmay on paddle board wearing Anita Sports Bra-Hurray Kimmay blog

Kimmay on paddle board wearing Anita sports bra, Hurray Kimmay blog

Take things one step at a time

Have you ever tried something new or pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone? Did you ever try several new things at once? The latter can be really scary, and can actually set you up for “failure”. I put that in quotes, because failure is actually good and part of the growing process. But at the same time, it’s important to make sure you know yourself well enough that you’re not putting yourself into a potentially dangerous and high stakes situation. Growing is not about how far and how fast you can go. It’s about compassionately taking it one step at a time.

Sometimes we don’t have that choice. I know. Life’s events sometimes throw us so far outside of our comfort zone that we feel completely lost. That’s life’s way of saying, “Hey, you have some catching up to do in this area. Let’s go NOW!” But you can also choose to explore your comfort zone so life doesn’t have to force you to do it so quickly. So when you do have time, take it easy and allow yourself the luxury of taking it one step at a time.Kimmay paddle boarding wearing Anita sports bra, Hurray Kimmay blogFor example, though I admit I’m not the most avid water sportswoman, I do know how to swim. And though I was wearing underwear in front of a crowd, it was a well fitting and fuller coverage sports bra and panty. And though I could have opted for a smaller, harder to control board, I went for a larger, smoother ride style in pretty calm waters. These were short steps out of my comfort zone. Had I never even swam, was going naked, and decided to try the hardest to manage board in wavy water and during a rainstorm… I could have had a much different experience.

As a human being, I think that expecting myself to take such huge steps would have been a very non-compassionate thing to do. Not only could I have had a bad experience, but it may have prompted me to never try again, and assume that I’m just not any good at stand up paddle boarding… or other things in life. Allow yourself to take baby steps, and to slowly push your comfort zone out a little further. Growth is gradual, so give yourself the space to play.

Redefine your comfort zone

When I took these baby steps, I was still scared. I thought for sure I’d fall in, and look foolish. I thought stand up paddle boarding would be hard. Instead, I totally surprised myself. Not only did I not fall in, I was so much more at ease on the board than I had imagined! I took slow deep breaths and took my time. I lowered my usually high expectations and perfectionism, and had a “let’s see what happens” attitude. And… I ended up doing better than I ever imagined I could do! It caught me by surprise, and it encouraged me to push further. I thought I’d stay by the shore, and instead I went out out out into the ocean. I thought I’d just stand up or kneel down. Instead I was doing downward dog, pigeon, and other yoga poses out in the water. I thought I’d fall. But I never fell once, and I was at ease in the water, in my body, and in the sunshine.Kimmay does yoga on a paddle board wearing Anita Sports bra, Hurray Kimmay blogBy the end, I went out so much farther into the ocean, and so much farther out of my comfort zone than I had planned. It allowed me to redefine my comfort zone. The next time I try stand up paddle boarding, I’ll have a new, larger comfort zone that I can play with, push, and explore. And what’s more, that experience has encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone in other areas of my life. Hurray!

Style note: The Maximum Support Extreme Control sports bra and matching panty you’re seeing here in the aqua print is from Anita. This high impact bra is no joke. And, I made such a splash (figuratively, not literally) that women stopped me on the beach to ask me where they could get it. In Spanish. Which means I got to help a woman say hurray for lingerie and practice my Español at the same time – huge hurray! I’m wearing a 32D and a 38 (small) bottom.

A few other ways I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in Puerto Rico

WARNING a few longer stories, but so worth the read. I tried to keep them short, but… you know how it goes. The above was just one example of stepping outside of my comfort zone while in Puerto Rico. Here is a short list of a few of the others.

  • I went with the flow. I am a planner by nature. And in this trip, we left a lot of things up to the last minute, or just went with the flow. I’ll admit, I was not very open to this, and resisted it at first, which caused a lot of inner conflict and doubt. Once I eased up on the control, things felt so much better. We still hit hurdles, but the way I dealt with it was so much better for myself and those around me.
  • I drove a car. OK please remember what I said about your comfort zone vs. someone else’s. This may not be a big deal to other people, but to me, it is! Living in NYC since I was 18, I almost never drive. Becky graciously drives almost everywhere we go, but I needed to do the driving one night. In the dark. In a foreign land. Up a crazy hill (I mean it, it was insane). So I asked for some help. I did the driving, but I asked my younger brother to come along for the ride. Not only did I do it, but I did it well and with more ease than I expected! So, from then on, I drove a few more times for us – including once in my bikini during a rain storm. Comfort zone broadened, for sure. Hurray!
  • We stayed in “Gray Gardens”. This is what we lovingly call our first hotel. It was a beautiful 17th century building, with crazy interiors and exteriors that wound through a maze-like structure. It was filled with art, tapestries, birds, and… stuff. So much stuff. Everywhere. And, it was falling apart. Leaks, mosquitoes and roaches, problems with the internet, AC, hot water, and literally anything you can think of. It was lovely to look at, but uncomfortable to stay. And we were working long days in the hot sun, and all we wanted was to relax in our hotel room. Going through that was uncomfortable. And hard. I cried. I was grumpy. And I learned how to go through that, handle the mayhem, and communicate my feelings – to myself, to my travel companion, and to my host.
  • We lived without AC and with lizards. The gorgeous AirBnB where we stayed next was so lovely. And hot. We’d read that the place didn’t have AC, but that the big fans made it cool and breezy. That was incorrect – especially since the first night the fan in the bedroom was blowing the wrong way. SO that meant it wasn’t blowing air on us at all. We finally spoke up about it and got it fixed, plus got an extra fan. In the meantime, we also learned how to live with big doors open and no screens, lizards, bugs, and everything else. The first lizard (who took up residence in my luggage) caused us to freak out. By the end, when we saw one on the wall, we thanked him for eating the bugs and asked him to just please stay away from us and my luggage.
  • The power went out and we shared a bikini. Our first day in Rincón was a mixture of blessings and trials. The biggest trial was that at around 6pm until 11pm, we were without power. In the whole town. Our AirBnB was up that crazy hill, in the middle of nowhere, with zero lights, fans, and water. So while we thought we could at least enjoy a bath or shower with candlelight after our crazy long day of traveling, it turned out that was not true. Exhausted and hungry, we were lucky enough to have friends (who also drove us across Puerto Rico earlier that day – one of the blessings) that were staying in town and knew the area. They knew a hotel with a backup generator and a restaurant, so we met them there. Next to where we ate, there was a pool. Becky looked at it longingly, and suggested that we take a dip to at least rinse off. I didn’t have a bathing suit with me, but she said she had two. Hurray! But when she came back from the car, she announced that she had two tops and one bottom. My thong was not going to cut it in this family hotel, so I encouraged her to just go in. She did, and it looked SO nice and I was SO fed up with being dirty and tired, that I asked if I could change into her wet bikini and borrow it. That crazy request was actually met with a yes, and next thing I knew Becky and I were in a bathroom, and I was putting on her bikini. Mind you, I have a much fuller bust than Becky, so my worry about the thong as a bottom was for nothing, because the bikini top was basically a pair of nipple covers on me. But boy, that dip in the pool was WORTH IT. After that, we went home and still did not have power. That was when we encountered a spider that jumped into my bag of panties, and the lizard in my luggage. I was about to lose it. The heat, the travel, the lack of lights, and my fear that this trip was blowing up in my face, and everything was piling up. And I was in the middle of telling Becky what to do if I have a panic attack… and the lights came on. HURRRRRRRRRRAAAYYYYYYYYY! I basically ran to the shower to use the water, and cried and cried. I realized that I cannot control everything, and I cannot do this alone. I prayed to God to help me, and surrendered to the flow of the trip and His plan instead of my own. That was the tipping point, folks. From then on, crazy things still happened, but my outlook and gratitude were soooo different.
  • I snorkeled with the fish. I’m not a fan of fish swimming up and touching me. Nor am I a fan of not being able to breath out of my nose. So snorkeling sounds like a total “no”, right? But I was in a go-outside-my-comfort-zone mode, so I tried it out! It was a little anxiety inducing, but I just took it slow and kept breathing. I didn’t go to the ends of the earth, and … they let me use a pool noodle in the ocean. Baby steps, remember? Sometimes going outside of your comfort zone requires you possibly looking like a fool. I’m still glad that I did it. I would have totally missed out on that whole experience if I hadn’t tried! 
  • Waterfall. A huge freaking waterfall. We met up with my family (almost 150 of us to be exact) at the Gozalandia waterfall in San Sebastián. Driving there, and getting everyone to the waterfall was outside of my comfort zone already (long story)… but actually going into the waterfall was another big one. First, fish. I can’t. So I was up on a rock and instead of easing my way into the water, I basically just jumped. Hello, cold! My lungs were shocked and I ended up losing my breath. Which was scary. I thought “Oh, that’s just cold” but my body was like “OMG THAT IS COLD AND I AM GOING TO DIE”. Thank goodness my brother was there, and helped me breathe. That’s what family is for, right? I was a little embarrassed, but it was all good. Then, getting up onto and into the waterfall was… not easy. You know when you see these images of women in bikinis underneath a waterfall, you think “Wow, that’s so sexy and romantic”? I call bullshit on that. That water was basically pelting my face. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, because the water was ripping my contacts out. And I couldn’t go back further into the waterfall because I couldn’t breathe, you know, in water. And the water was coming down so fast that I felt scared to go up really far into the waterfall because I might fall and scrape my whole body as I plunged to my demise in front of everyone. So, sitting there on this steep terrain, letting Becky take pictures (while using hand signals because I couldn’t hear a thing, and trying to tell me to lay out flat while the water was pelting me) was VERY far outside of my comfort zone. But I did it! So when several other people were jumping off of the cliff and invited me to go, I knew enough to say no. I had already pushed my comfort zone several times that day. I honored how far I had come, and took away the pressure to live up to someone else’s comfort zone expectations. That felt GOOD.

A few ways to try going outside of your comfort zone

Want to take the plunge and lovingly move outside of your comfort zone, and grow? Here are just a few ways to try it out. Keep in mind, that expanding yourself in one area of your life will also lead to making changes in another. Being brave is also contagious, and when you share your story, you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Experiment with your style – whether it’s a different color, a bold print, or a more romantic look than usual – get out of your comfort zone when it comes to fashion and style. That goes for your everyday fashion and more. If you’re just starting to experiment with being comfortable in a bathing suit, for example, take it slow. Try a classic one piece, like I’m wearing here. Or go bold with a printed bikini that has underwire support and adjustable straps. You don’t have to go from I-haven’t-worn-a-bathing-suit-in-public-in-years to a string bikini overnight. It’s all up to you and your personal comfort zone. Don’t you dare compare yours to someone else’s. Stay true to you and take your own steps.

Kimmay wearing Anita one piece in Puerto Rico, Hurray Kimmay blog

Kimmay wears Anita bikini in Puerto Rico, Hurray Kimmay blog

Style notes: I’m wearing the Anita Hanoi swimsuit in the top image, and it happens to be pocketed! That means that someone who has had breast surgery and wants to wear a prosthesis (Anita makes a great one to wear in the water), or an insert can do so. But it’s also a great fuller coverage, classic swimsuit for any woman. In the image below that, I’m wearing a great cup-sized, underwire bikini from Anita with seamed cups and adjustable straps. It’s the same one I wore in the waterfall. Isn’t this print the cutest? I’m wearing a 38D (which turns into a “small” for D cups, not a 38 band) in both styles.Kimmay wearing Anita Malia bra and panty, Hurray Kimmay blogWhy not push your boundaries with what you wear underneath? If you’re used to wearing the same smooth, neutral bra all the time, it’s time to try something different. Try a bra in a print, or made of lace, or with a push up, or anything that is a little outside of your comfort zone. Kimmay wearing Anita Malia bra and panty, Hurray Kimmay blogYou don’t have to pose in them out on a balcony in the middle of Old San Juan, by the way. That’s optional. I encourage you to wear something lovely underneath even if you’re the only one who will see it. This is actually one of my favorite ways to own your sexy, too. Also, keep in mind that outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean it should be uncomfortable when it comes to undergarments. Wear what fits and feels good, always.Kimmay in Anita Fleur bra and panty in Puerto Rico, Hurray Kimmay blogStyle notes: Both of these looks are from Anita’s “Care” collection, which means they have special functions (like pockets) for prostheses. The Malia style (top) is a smooth, non-underwire, molded bra in a pretty print. The lace style is from the Fleur collection. There’s a basic underwire (available up to J cup!), non-underwire, mastectomy, and nursing bra – along with a bodysuit and awesome panties. Soooo into this style. It’s full coverage, supportive, and sexy – a very “hurray for lingerie” kind of combo.  I’m wearing a 32D in both styles, and a 38 (small) bottom.

Try a new move – whether it’s a yoga pose or dance move, test out something different. Our bodies are beautiful works of art and science, and they need our help, love, and nourishment to grow, build, and stretch. It’s funny, because every time I push my body to do something new and different, it opens up something in my heart and my head, too.

Kimmay wears Anita aqua sports bra in Puerto Rico, Hurray Kimmay blogPush your body to your edge, and let it show you what it can do. It may be hard at first, but give yourself the opportunity to try, fail, learn, and try again. Build that loving relationship with your body by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Kimmay in yoga pose wearing Anita aqua sports bra, Hurray Kimmay blog

Style notes: I’m wearing the Anita Maximum Support Momentum Sports Bra in Aqua. This style is available up to an H cup, and down to 30 bands. Hurray! I’m wearing a 32D here.

Ask for Support – One of the best things about traveling with Becky is that we have pretty opposite comfort zones. She and I push each other to find, push, and redefine our comfort zones. Through so many of the growth spurts I went through in Puerto Rico, I was supported or encouraged by her, or my family members. You alone have to do the work to grow, but you can bring along support and encouragement for the journey.Kimmay and Becky in Puerto Rico on Hurray Vacay!

Yes, Becky and I are totally wearing matching Anita sports bra in the top right photo. Hurray!

Your turn: Celebrate your bravery and willingness to go outside your comfort zone and grow. Where are some areas where you are standing still and staying comfortable? What are a few baby steps you can take to grow? Who can you ask for support? What have you noticed about other areas of your life when you push yourself out of your comfort zone in another?

Share with me here or send me a tweet! Also, you’ll find more images from my #HurrayVacay in Puerto Rico on my Instagram.

Don’t forget! I’m hosting a giveaway with Anita, the brand that made all of the sports bra, lingerie, and swimsuits in this post. Go over to the giveaway page and enter to win a $250 shopping spree!

xoxo kimmay

PS: As always, my photos with Becky Yee of Around Digital Media and Becky Yee Photography have zero photo-shopping or air brushing on my body. It’s my commitment to you to show you what a real human body looks like. I may be posing to look my best, but I am not about false perfection or unattainable standards. So you may see some cellulite, rolls, or bruises. I hope you see love, compassion, and truth.

PPS: Anita is a proud sponsor of the #HurrayVacay to Puerto Rico. That means they paid me to create content, like this, and made the trip possible. I love working with fabulous brands that I truly love, adore, and support.

ALSO: Big thanks to the lovely people of Rincón Paddle Board for being so kind, patient, and generous with us! If you are ever in Puerto Rico and want to try paddle boarding, snorkeling, or surfing visit them. They even do nighttime paddle boarding with lights under the boards in the ocean! I can’t say enough about how great they are.

Kimmay's Rincon paddle boarding adventure, Hurray Kimmay blog