Comfort Zones. We all have them, and need them at times. Especially when we need to retreat somewhere after an exhausting day of whichever kind. In other situations, you find yourself a new Comfort Zone away from your usual Comfort Zone. Sometimes, we want to remain inside our respective Comfort Zone because, well, there’s comfort.
Unfortunately, this mindset won’t do much for a person’s growth. Staying in one and the same place sounds nice, but you never know what you’re missing out on if you never leave said Comfort Zone.
As the saying goes:
“Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone!”
Isn’t that the truth?
For a huge part of my life, my main Comfort Zone was my hometown, a small, rural place in the middle of the country. While I did venture outside of this very Comfort Zone every now and then, it took me until July 2011 to pack up my belongings and move to Berlin, a city I’ve considered “home” for many years. Until then, it was all super convenient, and I didn’t have to really look after myself.
However, when I broke down in 2010, I realized that I needed to change something about my life, which is why I traded the small-town, country life for the Big City. Granted, not everything here has gone smoothly so far, but I am not the one to throw in the towel, even if things are bleak at times.
At the beginning, I was kinda …scared if I could REALLY pull this off – “this” being living on my own, obviously. Turns out, while I did feel a bit overwhelmed in the beginning, I found out that YES I CAN! (reference to Barack Obama intended)
I have my own support system here in Berlin, I have several friends, and, as I have mentioned in a previous entry, another Comfort Zone away from my usual Comfort Zone (my flat). All those things – the concerts, the sports events – have helped me to come out of my shell as well.
However, my moving to Berlin was not the first step out of my Comfort Zone. Back in 2003, I had read something about language courses (mind you, I was studying British and American Literature – and actually got those degrees!) abroad. I’d been toying with the idea of going to the US for a semester or two, but in the end I pushed that aside rather quickly because …nope, the thought of being on my own somewhere in a foreign country and not knowing ANYONE there scared me shitless. So much that I didn’t do any semesters abroad. The more I was thinking about it, the more it was literally overwhelming me. So those language courses seemed pretty interesting, and nobody would care if I passed or not.
Pretty soon, the choices were down to either Australia or New Zealand. IF I was going somewhere, it needed to be a place where I’d be kinda far away and where chances of returning to were smaller than for example going to Canada or the US. In the end, I chose New Zealand. The whole planning of the trip which was going to take place during the semester break, obviously, also led to my nickname Kiwi, in case you were wondering … at first online only, but it kinda became my alter ego in real life as well.
The closer the date of my departure got, the more nervous I became. I was a complete nervous wreck and, you guessed it, close to back out of this whole thing again. After all, it was going to be my first trip abroad ON MY OWN, and it had to be a trip halfway around the world, and I had no idea what was going to expect me there, half a world away from my home. My Mom kept encouraging me, and in the end, it was the right thing because New Zealand was, hands down, one of the best things to EVER happen to me in my life.
So one fine evening, I boarded that Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 from Frankfurt to Singapore where I had a two days stop over before catching a connecting flight to Christchurch on the South Island where I’d be staying for six weeks. While I was still nervous for the first couple of days (and jet-lagged; 12hrs flight from FRA to SIN, and another 10.5hrs from SIN to CHC, plus a nice little time difference of 10hrs from home), it didn’t take too long and I was head over heels in love with New Zealand. The landscape. The people. How laid back everyone there is.
Moreover, I finally made my childhood dream come true: I skydived.
Back in the day, when I was little, I had read something about tandem skydiving and well, that seemed so awesome that I wanted to do it, too. My family said, they’d give me a tandem skydive for my 18th birthday. I turned 18 – no skydive. I graduated from school – still no skydive.
So when I saw some kind of brochure about the possibility to skydive in Christchurch, I knew what I had to do and with the delay of six years, I decided it’s now or never.
I am scared of heights.
So why the heck would I hurl myself out of a plane to be in free fall at approximately 200kph for almost a minute and then get five minutes of canopy time when I can’t even climb up a freakin’ ladder to the very top? Because! That’s why. I WANTED this. I HAD to do it – and just like it’s written on the back of my black fleece pullover I bought there at the drop zone: “DARE TO DO IT!”
Let me tell you – it was AWESOME. So awesome in fact that I did it twice. I legit said to the tandem master and the girl who filmed/photographed the whole shenanigans once I had ground underneath my feet again: “Can I go again?”
(me during my second skydive. Can anyone blame me for THAT VIEW??)
Thing is, when you’re 12,000 feet above ground, you don’t really see where exactly you’re going to jump to. (As opposed to bungee jumping – it’s just not high enough for me.)
You’re just too high up, and all you want is getting back down there in one piece. The worst moment, though, was when the door of the plane opened, I was sitting at the exit, my feet dangling above Nowhere, a million thoughts racing in my head and unable to catch any of them. And then I heard something like “Ready – set – GO!”
And the next thing I know – I was in free fall.
Feeling so utterly … ALIVE.
Whenever I look at the photos (and videos) of my skydives, I smile. I not only had the courage to make a freakin’ LEAP out of my Comfort Zone and travel halfway around the world on my own, I also kicked my fear of heights in the face and made a dream of mine come true.
Am I a daredevil? Maybe.
Do I like adrenaline rushes? Very much so.
Would I skydive again? Most definitely.
I will leave you with this quote by Leonardo DaVinci:
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your face turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”