I recently attended an educational conference and out of all the little nuggets of wisdom that were thrown at me throughout the day one stood out: “change doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.” Friends had been telling me this for ages, but it took a professional at a podium for it to really sink in – I’m stuck in my comfort zone. I came to the sudden realization that over the last few months I had somehow backed myself back into an excuse filled corner. When something new (and slightly intimidating) came up I would just grab one of my excuses and throw them at the offending event or person.
The excuses include such classics as: “It’s too far!” (I don’t own a car so this one works well), “I have homework” (*cough* Netflix *cough*), or even the ever-popular, “I’m too broke.” All of these reasons, as I’ve come to realise, are really, really bad excuses. All of my friends have heard them time and time again and I’ve become that girl, the one that never shows up to anything. I’ll promise that I will be there this time and then whip out an ever familiar “something came up” text to my friends when I realize I have thirty minutes to get ready and forty minutes left on the newest Grey’s Anatomy episode.
After my “aha!” moment, I came to the conclusion that this had to stop. It took awhile for my friends to start taking me seriously; if you’re wondering why your friends don’t want to hang out with you anymore look at what you’ve been doing in the past. How was I supposed to experience the world if I was always coming up with excuses not to do something? So I started saying yes and, you know what, it was pretty freaking great. By telling myself that I wasn’t going to make excuses anymore I opened up a door to new opportunities. I started taking the initiative to get up earlier, figure it out, and conquer the day. When excuses became illegal in my mind, I made it nearly impossible for me to say no to opportunities that came my way.
I began by hanging out with my friends more. I Uber-ed and bus-ed my way to coffee shops and dinner spots. I even got up early in the morning (something I hate) and dragged myself out of bed to hang out with my friends. I’m not saying that it was an easy change or that it happened overnight, there were a lot of roadblocks in my way, one of the biggest ones being my local bus system. I had avoided it like the plague for the last year and a half after a stream of shootings at the buses and breakdowns during the winter had occurred. I wasn’t going to be the girl who got hit by a bullet while sitting in a broken down bus covered in snow. But I conquered my fear, downloaded a transit app, and figured it out. It took a few wrong stops and missed buses but I eventually became comfortable with my local bus system.
After a few months of conquering one excuse at a time, I even began taking this philosophy into other facets of my life. I began with small things, while I was shopping at Trader Joe’s I picked up some salmon (something I claimed to hate but had really never given the chance) and guess what, I loved it. The next week I applied for a job that I didn’t exactly fit the requirements for and strangely enough I was hired. By taking away excuses I had opened up my entire life to adventure.
I’ll admit I’m not perfect – I still whip out an excuse from time to time – but what matters is that I’m better. I’ve come to realize that I love my friends and hanging out with them far more than Netflix. In thirty years I’m not going to remember what happened to Meredith in the season three finale of Grey’s Anatomy; what I will remember are the moments I shared with those closest to me.
Some of the most memorable nights of my life have happened when I stopped making excuses.