“If you want to be known, put yourself out there!”
“If you want to be successful, put yourself out there!”
I often hear statements to that effect that end with the phrase, “put yourself out there.”
This statement makes me feel uneasy because I’m not comfortable with “putting myself out there.” I’m not comfortable with being told that the only way to “put yourself out there” is to go to an event with a large amount of people and then having to spontaneously speak and make friends with every person there in order to fulfill this command.
I enjoy keeping to myself. I enjoy my comfort zone. I enjoy speaking to a few select people.
What I don’t like is being put in situations that are assumed to be “good for my character building” when all I feel is anxiety and fear.
I hate being put in stressful, crowded situations and then being told “Just talk to people, it’s easy.”
No. If it was easy, I would have done that a long time ago.
When people say this they don’t understand that every person is different. Not everyone is comfortable with being told that the only way to put yourself out there is by being placed in large social settings. This phrase makes it sound like the only possible way to be better is by being uncomfortable, but it’s difficult to do things to the best of your ability when you’re uncomfortable.
For me, I lose meaning and purpose because I’m doing something that doesn’t make me happy and I feel forced. There is no joy in the activity because I’m not comfortable, and especially being told this generic “motivational advice” makes me feel even less like myself because obviously the answer to all my social anxiety was right there all along!
People assume this is the right thing to say to a person who needs experience in socializing or needs more opportunities opened up to them. It’s as if no one has ever stopped to think, “Hey, let’s personalize this,” instead of making a huge general statement that may or may not be helpful. Instead they assume everyone will respond to this statement in the same way and “put themselves out there” with ease.
All of this reminds me of a quote I once read by an unknown author:
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
At first, I was offended by this quote but once I thought about it a bit more I realized that this shouldn’t mean that your comfort zone is bad. It’s good because that’s what you’re familiar with, what you’re knowledgeable about, and where you know your abilities lie. Nothing grows there because there are already things that have grown there, and now you’re going to need to step out of that zone to get access more space to grow.
“Putting yourself out there” doesn’t mean taking a leap 10 ft away from your comfort zone.
You can grow and “put yourself out there” more by taking the time to slowly work on expanding your comfort zone so that it can include more instead of straying far from your comfort zone and just hoping that it will follow along.
Like many things, learning to explore things outside your comfort zone takes time and work, but you have the ability and choice to do so in a way that actually helps you. You’ll be able to do more when you say you want to do more, and this doesn’t have to be defined by anyone telling you what and how to do it.