Do you want to feel empowered? Energetic? Self-confident? One way to do that is by trying new things and confronting your fears. When you step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself with a new sport, a new technology, or even something easy like a new food, you’ll view yourself differently.
Once you try something new, you’ll find that you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone again and again. You’ll start looking for opportunities to say “yes” instead of “no.” Before you know it, you’ll be that adventurous and spontaneous person who’s a role model for her friends!
That’s what Ferida Wolff did. She told her friend she was going to tour the Galápagos Islands on a small ship. And she was someone who often got seasick. Her friend pointed out that Ferida was always doing things like this – deliberately challenging herself.
Her previous trip had been to Machu Picchu in Peru, where she had ended up hugging the side of the mountain because she has a fear of heights.
When Ferida thought about it, she realized her friend was right. She’d been doing lots of exciting things that forced her to confront her fears. She had tried hot air ballooning as well – not exactly what most people choose to do when they’re afraid of heights.
Ferida says she’s working on the emotional side of things too. It can be scary to apologize to someone, to forgive someone, or to speak up for yourself. Even sharing your opinions can be daunting, and Ferida’s been mustering her courage to do that.
She says, “Fear has become an amber caution light to me rather than a red stoplight. I look around, and if there isn’t an authentic reason to be afraid other than my own reluctance, I may go for it.”
BJ Whitley is another woman who confronted her fear head on and came away with a widely expanded world. She and her boyfriend were hitting the road in a 40-foot motorhome for a big adventure.
He was selling his house, and BJ was renting out hers, and they were getting rid of 65 years of accumulated possessions. Just shedding all that stuff is an empowering, liberating experience!
But BJ’s boyfriend wanted to add one possession back into the mix – a bicycle. BJ said no way was she going to learn how to ride a bicycle at her age. She hadn’t learned as a kid because a girl from her church had a fatal accident while riding a bike. As a result, BJ’s parents wouldn’t allow her to have one.
Now her boyfriend was telling her that everyone traveled with bikes on the back of their motorhomes. That would be their transportation when they parked at campsites.
BJ went off to Walmart to buy a bike and then, surprisingly, learned how to ride it in only 30 minutes.
She says, “Since that day more than seven years ago, I have ridden through the crowded streets of Key West and tackled bumpy, unruly trails in campgrounds throughout Texas, California, and Virginia. Bicycling has truly enhanced my retirement years, given me more self-confidence, and, more importantly, taught me that a simple courageous act knows no age.”
And of course, it’s great exercise too. My husband and I have pulled our 20-year-old bikes out of storage, and we’ve been having a great time riding them around our hilly neighborhood during the pandemic.
It makes you feel like a kid again when you get back on a bicycle, but I must admit that I was a bit nervous when I started riding again after not doing it for years.
As we age, we need to resist that natural tendency to say, “Oh no. I can’t do that.” All that does is make our world smaller. By adopting a policy of saying “yes” to new experiences we make our world larger. And that’s the direction you want your life to take when you’re over 60, because, after all, age is just a number.
Do you agree it’s never too late to confront your fears and step outside your comfort zone? What new activities, sports, foods, or other things have you tried? What will you try next? Please join the conversation.