Well I am back from a wonderful, restful vacation. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago this vacation was a little out of the box for me. My nearest and dearest and I traveled to Washington to see Dave Matthews Band play a 3 day concert. It was my first experience camping or at a music festival. I am happy to report I had a great time!! I really enjoyed hearing all the music, loved the camping and met some great people in the process. Overall I was glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to experience something completely new to me–I believe our lives become richer and more techni-color when we are able to move out of our every day into new worlds. However, it is not all peaches and cream to expand out of our box. I learned a few things during my out of the box experiment and wanted to share them here.
Flexibility: One thing I really struggle with is flexibility, ‘going with the flow’, bending with the wind so to speak. I like my plans, my calendar, my schedules. I like to know what is happening next, and what comprises both the big picture and little picture. But this trip was about moving with the crowd not figuring out my plan or agenda. I continually reminded myself that if I was going to really experience the music festival I needed to let go of the reigns a bit and be flexible. Now in true confession, I did earn the nickname “Mama Bear” so I wasn’t totally successful in letting go of my care taking tendencies–but I was able to loosen up enough to experience the world differently.
It’s not permanent: I am not going to be a music festival groupie, traveling around camping, not taking showers, and eating PB&J for most of my meals. I am a girl who likes comfy beds, good meals, regular showers. The whole point of stepping out of the box is just that–to break free from your ordinary regular patterns. However, I also had to regularly give myself a break that sometimes stretching out of our comfort zones is really uncomfortable and hard. So it is ok that I didn’t make it all 3 days without a shower, that I was the first to bed each night, or that I knew which vendor had my favorite food. In the process of stepping out of your box you still need to take care of yourself.
Self talk is key: I think self talk is the key to almost everything. When we pay attention to the words we say to ourselves we can really learn a lot about our motivations and our challenges. Quite honestly if my nearest and dearest wasn’t a huge Dave Matthew fan and didn’t love camping and going to musical festivals I would not have gone to this event. A huge reason why I went was for him AND because I wanted to see what it was like, I wanted to stretch myself. But the times when it was hard and I was just done I would think “man he is really going to owe me for this one” and then I would catch myself and realize “this was my choice to come along, my choice to get out of my box, my choice to see his world and spend time with him” so just because I was challenged doesn’t mean he deserved to be punished. Pay attention to how much your struggling is being ‘put on’ to other people. And give yourself and them a break.
I admit my example of stepping out of the box was limited and pithy. Many of you are struggling with major life changes, job transitions, grad school applications, even relationship changes. But the principles above still apply. Flexibility, the temporary nature of change, and your self talk all play a role in how easily you are able to manage stepping out of your box.
What are your tips for handling new experiences?