Finding the Edge and Jumping Off
Recently, I was doing some quarter mile intervals and every damn time when I reached exhaustion, that thought of ‘omg how much farther,’ and looked at my watch I was at 0.19 with 0.06 to go. I found this weird and it got me thinking; I’m not a running expert but I think maybe this has something to do with lactate (maybe… again, not an expert) - that tipping point when I’m putting in too much effort for my body to produce what I need, and it has to come up with something new, new muscles, new resources, whatever, to get me to the end. The last 0.06 for me were exactly where the speedwork was doing its magic, building new, creating growth, pushing limits. That oh fuck moment is a moment to celebrate; YES, now I’m making progress! It’s absolutely not a moment to feel loserish about, or hopeless, or that I suck at running because I can’t crush the whole 0.25 or that I'm failing at my workout somehow because it’s hard.
There are two sayings I love:
Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens
Everything you want is on the other side of fear
Hard and uncomfortable doesn’t mean you're going the wrong way, or that you will fail, or that you're always going to be uncomfortable. Really it means the opposite; finding your edge is a moment to truly embrace, it’s a beautiful moment, it means you’ve reached your opportunity for growth and you’re going the right way. Fear and discomfort are frequently experienced in tandem; this is perfectly natural - we’ve evolved with fear to keep us safe, so pushing through it feels counter to our instincts and fills us with doubt. It doesn’t feel good. But it certainly feels better if you recognize it as something to embrace and lean into.
Deciding you want to change something about your life, or yourself, will naturally trigger this fear-discomfort-doubt cycle. It’s one of the main reasons change is hard! It is so much easier to stay with the status quo than put yourself into uncomfortable action… and so worth it to go against your instincts and do it anyway. I’m an introvert and typically private person, however, I want to share more and feel more confident and comfortable talking to people in general. I go to meetup groups alone to meet new people. I’m starting to write and share myself here. Last month I joined Toastmasters, and last week I gave my first speech. This is all my version of finding my edge and throwing myself off of it. What do I want to do? What makes me uncomfortable or scared about trying it? Where can I go practice and experience that? The world is full of opportunities. These activities bring some discomfort, some anxiety… and growth and learning.
People remark on how much I’ve changed, and honestly, it’s because I learned to be uncomfortable and keep moving anyway. Identifying what I want, identifying the reasons I don’t want to do it, then walking straight into it with intention. Deciding those oh fuck moments were not reasons to freak out, but instead, reasons to take a deep breath and jump.
Chances are, you know what some of your edges are; you may have defined them with words like Never or Can’t, or possibly come to the conclusion that you’ve failed at them in some way. If you dropped those words and decided to move forward, what’s a small way you could practice being uncomfortable? If you don’t know where your edge is, where are you playing it too safe?