“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” — Neale Donald Walsch
This past weekend, I went to Nashville, TN for a handstand boot camp with Kyle Weiger. If you look back at some of earlier posts (like from two years ago), you’ll see that I started following Kyle (email, Facebook, etc.), and then did his extremely informative, but quite exhausting, “Six Week to Handstand” online course. That course, while grueling, gave me confidence to try kicking up away from the wall, and improved my strength and endurance tremendously. So I was very excited to see that he was conducting a workshop just 2 and a half hours from my home.
Yet, as the weekend grew closer, I started having misgivings. What if I was the worst handstander at the workshop? What if I got so discouraged at the level of difficulty on the first day that I didn’t want to to go back? What if everybody else was in their 20s and already holding handstands for a minute at a time while I was still struggling to kick up? What if I made a fool of myself in front of a bunch of strangers and Kyle Weiger?
I shared my fears with my yoga friend Elizabeth who reminded me that we need to be around people who are better than us in order to make ourselves better. (I knew this, but obviously I needed a reminder.) More than that, I needed to venture out of my comfort zone. I mean, I was comfortable with my current handstand — light years better than I was when I started, and better than a lot of the people in my little circle of friends, co-workers, and relatives. Heck, most people I know don’t even attempt handstand, so of course my handstand is better. Since I was already comfortable with the idea that I might not be as good as others, did it really matter if I ever got better?
The truth is, I do want to get better. I’m not ready to say, “That’s it. That’s as good as my handstand is going to get”, and I do need to be around others who will lift me up. In his book, Hellbent, Benjamin Lorr writes, “Comparing yourself to others is both an inevitable part of community and a positive one: instead of competition, I’d call it learning from others. Meaning we learn from others what is possible and then apply it to our own lives.” Why did I think I always need to be as good as, or better than, the people around me in order to be comfortable with myself?
So I went to the workshop. And you know what? There were other people in their 50s. And they weren’t all proficient at handstands. Oh, some of them were better than I was, but some had just begun their handstand journey and weren’t kicking up at the wall yet. But they all had put on their “big girl” pants (there were only two guys in our group of 15), got out of their comfort zone, and came together with other strangers to work on bettering themselves at handstands.
In the end, it didn’t matter if I was the best or the worst. What mattered was that I got out of my comfort zone and I tried. I faced the fear of not being good enough and said, “So what?” There was no prize for winning, or punishment for not putting forth a good performance. But there was community and a celebration of effort. We were all there because we wanted to work on handstands, and we gave each other high fives for trying, and cheered even if the effort led to falling.
I could have skipped the workshop, stayed in my happy little comfort zone, and been content with where I was. But then I would have missed being where I am now — a 57-year-old grandma who survived handstand boot camp, and is a better, stronger, better-aligned handstander because of it.
Thank you for reading this post. Please share with others if you like what I wrote.