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Opinion

Out of my comfort zone

Pushing our limits doesn’t mean taking huge leaps.

Eric Buhain

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“Pain, pain go away!”

This is what happened to me after competing for three days in the 2019 Tour of Matabungkay.

Honestly, I wasn’t ready for the race. But I told myself “let’s do this,” which was a big mistake. Now, I am paying the price for listening to my ego.

But why did I do it?

That’s a fair question that had been asked by some friends before the race started. We all knew that some riders who competed there were in great shape as they lost 10 kilograms in just three months in anticipation for the tough climbs. There were also some odd men out, who were thinking that they could just simply pedal along and eventually finish the route in their comfort zone.

No way!

A comfort zone in a 15 percent slope gradient is impossible.

Again, why did I do it?

Why do we have to push ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones and mentally torture ourselves and pay the price with a swollen body and aching joints?

The answer: Intrigue.

We are intrigued by what is one step outside our comfort zone. We look at it as a personal growth or improvement even if it already hurts.

Wanting to grow whether physically, mentally or financially is an inherent part of human nature.

We have a routine, but we want to change it up once in a while. We want to be at home and in our comfort space, but we still feel the urge to step out and test ourselves. We push ourselves because we don’t want to get stagnant and feel stuck in our comfort zone.

But what is actually our comfort zone?

Basically, it is something we created only in our minds. It is a personal thought in which we feel at peace.

So, if it’s all in our minds, then we can absolutely change it whenever we want. We can either lower or raise it as often as we want. But more often than not, we raise it.
And that’s what happened to me.

Even if I knew that I wasn’t ready, I raised my expectations and I wasn’t afraid of failure because I knew it was inevitable since I didn’t train hard.

Based on my past experiences, if I want to win, I need to be ready. But this time, I wasn’t ready yet, but I still wanted to grow.

Growth requires that we say “yes” and take that step despite our fears.

It comes from experimentation, pushing our boundaries, taking risks, opening ourselves up, and making mistakes along the way. Did I care? No.

Although some would say that I should have done it, I simply enjoyed every painful pedal and shortness of breath. I continued to move forward despite the discomfort.

Like myself and many other riders in our peloton of misfits, we are making the statement that our goal of finishing is more important than the fears and obstacles that are standing our way.
It’s the achievement of that goal and all our little wins along the way that ultimately made it worth it.

Our curiosity on what is beyond rather than thinking about our comfort zone can be an incredibly empowering perspective.

At the finish line, I couldn’t believe I was able to do it despite having the odds stacked against me. It felt like I won a Southeast Asian Games gold medal again.

Maybe that’s the reason why I did it — to chase that high.

Stepping outside of our comfort zone does not mean being reckless. I could have stepped too far, without any kind of plan or support system in place. Heck, I am almost 50 and I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore.

But no one forced me to do it and I am fully aware of my own comfort zone. It was simply having myself stepping outside my peaceful existence and going into a personal war for four hours in each of those three days. Ouch!

I have to take ownership of my own decision no matter what the risks are. I have to admit that I feel I became more confident after.

Looking back at each pedal outside my comfort zone, I realized that I did not only survive, but I could actually thrive if I continued.

It feels reassuring that the next time is definitely going to be much easier and that my comfort zone will also be raised.

COMPETING in the 2019 Tour of Matabungkay puts me out of my comfort zone.

Isn’t that how we all should look at it? Our comfort zone, when we started maybe really low, but when we become relentless and tread on without hesitation, that comfort zone rises, which in turn results in personal bests, which leads to growth.

Pushing our limits doesn’t mean taking huge leaps.

We can take just a small step at a time outside our comfort zone. A small improvement here and there that we can be proud of can be used to build confidence and inspire us to go for bigger goals next time.

The race may be over, but the journey has only begun.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring, but one thing is certain: I know I can’t let go of what I have gained.

And despite the pain, I will ride the saddle as early as today.

To my peloton of misfits, I say today we came, we saw, and we suffered.

But tomorrow — we will conquer.

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