Out of My Comfort Zone 1

Every other week for the last two months or so, I had had a Life Coaching session. During these, we spoke of many different things, small and large, that I could do to gain some direction as I bumble along. Not surprisingly, one of the most salient of these is to allow myself to step beyond my comfort zone, that oft-used but rarely played-out cliché we all purport to strive for.

“Start small,” she said “and don’t worry so much about looking stupid!”

“Well I often do that anyway without trying,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but that’s coming from a place of accident, maybe even some fear. I think you should aim to take an intentional act toward just stepping out there, so that you learn that these feelings are mostly in your head”.

So as I have a vested interest in ensuring that all that work and dough were not for naught I humbly accepted the challenge. Then, of course, life takes it from there and I am so instructed on what my task is to be.

I have decided that it is time for me to become more active in my local community, Durham, North Carolina. I will potentially do this by attending City Council Meetings and the like, and just putting my feelers out to understand how the whole political process works. If I am to work with advocacy/nonprofit groups after all, as is becoming increasingly more likely given my seven years with the Norrie Disease Association as of Friday, then it would benefit me tremendously to know how the wheels are greased, so to speak. Social media and even this blog have their place and probably reach a wider variety of individuals than I am even aware, but there is still greater value in showing my face, and in so doing helping some understand that persons with disability are good for more than just being shut away in sheltered settings or worse, inside of their homes or institutions.

So I had the thought that one of the best ways of learning how I might begin this engagement is to read the small town paper, the Durham Herald Sun. This publication aided me in my initial adjustment to the city, because the articles talked about favorite restaurants, highlighted interesting personalities, and quickly gave me a sense of place and home in this fast growing area.

However, they somewhat recently, well maybe a couple years ago or so, decided to implement a registration system in order to access their content online at a subscription fee. I wholeheartedly support this, as I know it takes dollars to get the reporters who do the good work of disseminating information to the community. I have found it quite challenging to sign up though, as they have a visual-only captcha that one must fill in to complete the sign-up (you know the hard-to-read characters meant to keep spammers out?) I also get why this exists, but man does it ever present a pain to those who are blind. Even most audio versions aren’t all that useful to me, given my hearing problems.

Anyhow, I tweeted my difficulty with sign-up to the paper, and one of the reporters who knows me well through this medium replied first asking me to what I referred then suggesting that I scamper down to the paper’s facilities and have someone assist me there. I looked forward to this actually, knowing that it would require me to ask a random person for help once I entered the building.

In many respects, today was a good one on which to do this sort of thing. It was definitely too cold and gllomy for my usual sit-down outside, and so I needed some other kind of post-work stimulation.

And not too surprisingly, the encounter was largely uneventful. Maybe I did look kind of “stupid” as I worked out which doors to enter and how to navigate the halls. I mostly had to keep reminding myself that if someone did speak to me, I should remember to use my indoor voice. This seems easier now that the aids have been adjusted though, and I again have the right perspective on how loud is loud. It amazes me how far that had drifted below normal, as I’ve realized with continued public interaction.

Anyhow, a door popped open and someone told me that I should enter that room and he could help me. In about ten minutes, I was all done and on my way. I had hoped to perhaps meet a reporter there, but no such luck there. After pressing the button below 2 on the elevator and inadvertently setting off the alarm (why are all panels not set up alike!) I stepped back into the frigidity and got ready to head home.

So another challenge two weeks from now? Maybe sooner, who knows. I hope to step them un in intensity over time too, as I continue the hard work of making myself into the person I really want to become. And, how was your Monday?

2 Responses to Out of My Comfort Zone 1

  1. Bravo, John! That sounds like the perfect out-of-comfort-zone challenge.

    I’m thinking about your idea of engagement with a city council. A fellow in Seattle has been blogging for a year now about Seattle City Council. He attends all meetings, summarizes what went on and makes sense of it for the reader. Not sure if there’s a money-making career in that kind of blogging, though. This man is retired.

    But attending the meetings would definitely be a good way to connect, and network, with the community.

    • Yeah, a lot of people do that on Twitter these days also. My main reasoning to go is to see this stuff, community planning, in action. Thanks, I always appreciate the encouragement.

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