I love my duvet. So very much. There’s nothing better than climbing into my own bed, sheets all clean, snuggling up under the covers and feeling safe. My bed and my duvet have got me through many a tough time, and it still remains an instinctive reflex to retreat to their solace when I’m feeling rough.
But recently I got wondering if I liked my safety too much. Had I become a creature of habit and routine, avoiding the scenarios where I’d personally be challenged?
Last week I was put to the test. As many of you know I had a trip to China. It was business, with a delegation of people I’d never met, in a country and culture I knew nothing about, involving presenting on stage in front of lots of bods. My insecurities kicked in. Why had I been chosen to go? Would I be wasting this privileged place that could have been given to a more talented, and skilled, less dippy delegate? Would everyone hate me, and how could I spend a week with people I don’t know? I was completely out of my comfort zone as I arrived in Beijing. Hot, tired and not a sign of my clean duvet in sight, my comfort blanket had firmly and securely been left at home.
But after all this happiness work, something inside me said I would be OK. In fact more than OK, it would be good for me to step outside my safe little world.
Research shows that success can be gained from doing activities that rest just outside your comfort zone. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, in his book Happier, “the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”.
And this is exactly what happened. Not only did I have a good week, I had an amazing week. My initial nerves slowly dissolved and I went from panicked and insecure to bright and bouncy. I remembered who I was, outside my world back home. I started to enjoy the challenges and feel fulfilled when I achieved. My first encounter with a podium, three cinema screens and an audience of 250, sent shivers through my silky black all-in-one. By the time the week was ending I was riding the wave, claiming the stage and loving every minute of it.
“To dare is to lose ones footing momentarily. Not to dare, is to lose oneself,” says Soren Kierkegaard.
My fabulous week was largely thanks to the wonderful group I shared the journey with. They encouraged, inspired and supported me throughout. They gave me the gift of realising I was capable of more than I’d ever thought. And if this special group of people who I highly respected believed in little old me than why couldn’t I believe in myself?
I had stepped out of my comfort zone and it had been the best thing I’d done in years. I made new friends, discovered a fascinating culture, and felt inspired again to work in TV. All thanks to one short week. And leaving my comfort blanket at home.
As I settled into a freezing cold cattle class cabin for my 12-hour journey home, I longed for my clean duvet and comfy bed. But it was a different longing. A different me. A different mindset.
Thank you China and my new-found friends. For giving my duvet a new meaning in life – amongst many other things.