Last summer, I was ‘encouraged’ to step out of my comfort zone in a big way. I should preface this story by admitting that I am what could be described as ‘set in my ways’. Others may call it stubborn (or strong willed) but needless to say I’m working on this character flaw. I’m also a very indoors sort of a girl. Not naturally drawn to sports or outdoor activities, I’m a pale skinned book worm who loves a large cup of coffee and an open fire. With the exception of reading on the beach, I prefer being indoors with a shower and a comfortable bed.
So it still remains a mystery as to how we ended up camping in Galway last July. But that’s what happened. Once the big tent was bought, there was no going back. The frugal side of my brain insisted that we were going to get our moneys worth out of it. Andrew had been camping many times and the children were really looking forward to the thought of sleeping in a tent so I had to put my mind over my feelings, and act enthusiastic, despite having growing fears over spiders in my sleeping bag and walking to a communal toilet block in the middle of the night. EEK!!!!!
We booked the campsite for 2 nights, over a long weekend. By the time we were leaving I was actually excited, I mean who doesn’t love to get away for a wee break? Of course the control-freak side of me loves all the planning and list writing involved in packing for a trip, so I was in full Lila mode for a week before our departure.
With a very packed car and 3 children under the age of 6 we drove for hours to reach the campsite. It was dry and sunny for about 5 minutes after we arrived, but then the clouds rained down on us, rendering us soaked while trying to assemble a tent that we had never assembled before. Of course the tent eventually went up, but the rain did not stop. We unpacked and set up our stuff inside the tent, but the rain got heavier and then the wind picked up. We were right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in what felt like a hurricane. All through the first night I had visions of the entire tent being lifted into the sea!
Imagine the worst possible weather to experience on a camping trip, times it by 10, and that’s what we had! The next morning, after only a few hours sleep, I was less than pleasant to have breakfast with! Not helped by the fact the kids thought it was cool to have cereal from the little boxes (such a treat in our house!) and Andrew insisting on taking photos of everyone to document the holiday. When he wanted to take my photo, this was my reaction.
I could easily have just stayed under that sleeping bag, only for the fact that Andrew brought me some coffee – and we all know I can’t resist coffee.
That day we just got dressed and headed into Galway city to do indoor activities, which turned out to be quite fun. However, we still had to return to the campsite that evening. Although I’m proud of myself because by this point Andrew had suggested that we book into one of the many B&B’s in the area for the second night, if it made me more comfortable. But I said NO. If I was going to try ‘camping’, then I had to give it a fair try, and one night in bad weather wasn’t a fair try. So off to bed we went (bedtime is very late on a camping holiday btw – cause you have to wait for the sun to go to bed!). While the weather was less turbulent on the second night, the drunk Irish people in the tent next to us didn’t help me catch up on any sleep from the night before! Although my kids being awake at the crack of dawn (and loud with it) gave me a sweet sense of justice the next day. I know, show some maturity Lila. Haha.
The sun eventually did come out when we were leaving Galway, and we had a pleasant journey home, with a few sightseeing stops on the way home.
A lesson I have recently learned is that I actually enjoy life so much more when I push through the walls of my comfort zone and embrace the discomfort. I recently heard Michael Hyatt say that nothing exciting ever happens inside your comfort zone – and I have to agree with this. Part of my personal growth this year is going to rely on trying new things. Even if they don’t work out, there’s a great deal to be learned in making bad choices and decisions. Providing the opportunities in front of us aren’t reckless or dangerous, we should have a go! Step into the discomfort zone and see what’s there. Joy could be waiting on us, and could lead to amazing experiences.
Like in terms of camping, there is a part of me still dreads doing it again, but I know I will, because it created great (and funny) memories for us and our children. That’s the stuff that lasts. The memories, the mistakes, the lessons learned. That’s the part of life that outlives us. Our impact on the world, our influence, our legacy may all be so much better if we force ourselves to embrace the discomfort. Go for it! Bob Goff recently said “It’s better to try and fail, than fail by default!”. As they say in Northern Ireland “nothin beats a try!”