Boring.

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No one wants to be boring. While we each have our own opinion of what constitutes as “fun,” everyone loves to have it. For me, traveling, teaching, and riding horses are the most exhilarating. But not everyone agrees. In fact, during 2017, someone told me I was boring. Most likely because our ideas of “fun” were not compatible. Regardless, it made me realize I needed to do my best to have morefun. So, in 2018, I set out to prove them wrong.

Flying has always been anxiety-inducing for me. I’ve written about this topic several times, and it was perhaps one of the reasons I was labeled as “boring” by this particular individual. How did I combat this persona I had inadvertently created for myself? I got on 15 different flights to cities and countries all over. In August, I booked a trip to Iceland on a whim, telling myself the 8.5 hour flight is just another stepping stone for maximizing my fun-having ability.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is something that had never seemed necessary to me. If I wasn’t comfortable doing it, why should I have to do it? Discomfort should be avoided at all costs, right? Wrong. Turns out, fun is what lies at the edge of your comfort zone. Think about this: if you do something over and over – ultimately becoming comfortable with it – it loses the element of excitement after a while. Therefore, it becomes less fun. When we say, “Let’s go do something fun,” we usually mean, “Let’s go do something new and exciting.”

I had spent 23 years telling people I loved to have fun, but I never really did anything new. Flying so much was already new, but I needed to do more than just that. While in Aruba, I took the opportunity to visit the Natural Pool in Arikok National Park. I went with the intention to just swim in the pool. But I’ve swam thousands of time. What I hadn’t done was scale and jump off of a 25-foot cliff.

My whole body shook as I climbed, carefully placing my feet in the spots with the most traction, away from the algae and barnacles that clung to the side of the jagged rocks. Waves with enough power to pull me under and drown me crashed over the edge of the protected natural pool, blinding me with salty water for seconds at a time. Once I reached the top, I looked down to see about 50 people watching me. Some had even pulled out their cameras to video my 10 minutes of fearlessness. As I looked into the deep, clear, blue water below, I faintly heard my mom yell, “I’m not taking you home in a body bag.” I stood, surveying the possibilities of what could happen once I leapt. My body shook harder.

Then I jumped.

For the split seconds that I sailed, weightless, through the air, a sense of euphoria ran through my body. I hit the water, arms and legs still shaking, teeth still chattering. For the first time, I began to feel again as the adrenaline slowed down. I discovered that, on the way up to the top of the cliff, I had sliced the side of my foot open.

Discomfort. The key to not being boring.

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While stepping out of your comfort zone should not always entail a potentially fatal climb and jump and a bloody foot, I realized that in order to have life-changing experiences, we must risk being uncomfortable. This past year gave me the most incredible perspective on life. I hope that 2019 and every year after bring as many wonderful opportunities.

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