Taking a Leap Out of My Comfort Zone

Floating Graduate to a Passionate Podcaster

After spending the last year in-and-out of lockdowns it is very clear to me, life is short. What time we can use to grow and develop is valuable. So, I’m hoping my leap into seeking growth and fulfilment by extending my comfort zone, might inspire you reader, to use your time wisely.

It Starts as a Push

In 2016, the year I began my final journey into higher education, my mother asked me what I planned to do with my first summer now I was an adult and no longer living at home. Something far off in my eyes but drawing closer by the day. I assumed I would do what I had done before. Either bum around in my home county with my friends or go on holiday with them. I had no ambitious plans. No projects to create. Furthermore, little in the way of exciting ideas.

Now my mother is a very driven woman. She is successful, and not as a result of a silver spoon or Ivy League education. It was through hard work and dedication. Through sleeping on a mattress on the floor in university and working in a chicken abattoir and packing factory. It was through true grit.

So, naturally, I could not simply sit around during my summer off, with an innumerable amount of time on my hands. She often floats ideas my way about jobs or projects I might pursue. Although I have not always been as appreciative as I could be of them, I am eternally grateful for the one she floated me that year.

At first, I was sceptical. It was something very big and I had never done anything like it before. However, the more I read, the more drawn I was to the idea until eventually, I decided yes. In the summer of 2017, I found myself on a plane, bound for the United States of America to be a camp counsellor. My second ever job.

Then You’re Sailing Through the Air

It was a real head-spinner. I was flying to a foreign country to look after children who I had never met. Children who had a different culture to mine and were from very wealthy families. I was full of nerves and sometimes that can make it feel like you’re falling. But by the time I got there I had already met some truly great people.

Joseph Bunkle crouching on the floor posing for camera

Stretch your comfort zone

I began to find my feet. My head stopped spinning, and that falling feeling turned into a leap forward. By the time the kids arrived, I was feeling confident that this was where I was meant to be. Moreover, I wanted to make sure that they had as great a summer as I was ready to have!

I won’t lie and say everything was always amazing, there were ups and downs. Kids misbehave, they fight, and do not react well to the word ‘no.’ But I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Because my time at camp taught me the value of getting out of my comfort zone. Without taking a leap I never would have met the great adults there, or seen the kids in my care grow and develop as they did.

Finally, You Land on Your Feet

Three years later, thanks to lockdown, and the end of an internship, I had a lot of free time on my hands. The first lockdown did start to take a toll on my wellbeing towards the third month. I had a project then, streaming, but found that it began to feel restrictive and I began to hate the one thing I thought I never would, video games. Thus, ensued a rather vicious cycle of feeling bad for doing little, but having no desire to do the things that made me happy.

Lockdown 2.0 comes round, and I vowed not to make the same mistake again. I remembered times when I’d be at my happiest. I concluded that I was my most fulfilled when I’d taken a sojourn out of my comfort zone. So, I wracked my brain for some inspiration and spoke to my what-do-I-do-now guru, my mum, and the topic of podcasts rolled round. And a very few days later, the idea of a student and graduate news podcast came to mind. Thus, came the birth of YouniversityCast.

Professional equipment for recording podcast: microphone, earphones and laptop in a studio.

Starting a new project: a student podcast

The thought of putting my voice out there, how I had little to no experience editing, and whether what I said was right or remotely interesting was scary. But rather than leaving it as a whim, I left these thoughts behind as I took another leap of faith. And now, despite the pubs being shut and myself and my friends all being separated, I am genuinely happy where I am.

Truthfully, a person cannot develop fully unless they try new things. Humans are naturally curious creatures after all. We can’t help but look at something and think ‘how was that made?’ or ‘I wonder what’s behind that next hill?’ And by experimenting, by trying that thing you’ve always wanted to, you’ll naturally grow as a person.

Preparing for Your Own Jump

So, all this is well and good, but naturally, without any practical advice, this is all fluff. Here I’m going to outline some things you can do to help take that passion you have into meaningful action:

  1. Find Your Inspiration: It is true that you should be taking that leap toward your goals, but you need something to jump off. Make sure you have an idea you can sum up to someone if they asked, ‘what’s your project about?’
  2. Know Your Idea: Now you’ve got an idea, next you need to know what practical knowledge/skills you are going to need or build up in order to turn this dream into a reality. You may well want to be a brewer, but if you don’t know how to make beer, you’re really going to struggle to get off the ground.
  3. Seek Advice and Counsel: It can be hard sharing our passions. It’s all too easy to fear criticism and the slightest negative comment can snuff out any spark. Share your work with someone whose opinion you really value, a friend, relative, partner, or co-worker. This doesn’t have to be right away. Share your work when you’re ready and keep being curious to other’s opinions and feedback.
  4. Accept You Won’t Be an Expert Right Away: Jimi Hendrix didn’t play Voodoo Child the moment he picked up a guitar, and I doubt he expected to either. Everyone starts out an amateur and that’s okay. If you set the bar too high for yourself, you’ll never reach it.

Now for the hard part…put the work in! Once an idea goes from head to paper, you have to be prepared to keep it going. I don’t research an episode the day I record. Instead, I do my research beforehand, I reach out for quotes and I collaborate with co-hosts. We’ve all heard the adage ‘you get out what you put in’. When it comes to passion projects what you get is really worth the work.

Over to You

So, get out there. Start looking into that role you’ve been interested in moving into. Pick up that instrument you like the sound of. When you can, take that trip to that place you’ve never been. You can only end up growing from the experiences made, and when you stretch out of your comfort zone, you might even find yourself in a better place than where you began.

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