What lies beyond your comfort zone?

Alan White New

Alan White

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be selected to showcase the work I have done over the past number of years on Mental Health at Féilte. This event is held every year in the RDS in Dublin and is organised by the Teaching Council. It is the largest celebration (Féilte means celebration, and yes I had to look it up!) conference on mental health within education.

This wasn’t the first time I have applied to showcase at this event. I applied a couple of years ago also without success. To be invited to such an event is one thing but the response I received from other teachers was inspiring, and very different from the reactions I was getting when I first starting writing mental health books four years ago.

From the moment I set up my stand at 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 that evening I was constantly talking to other interested teachers about my books and how to implement them in schools. It was amazing to receive such a response. Everyone I spoke to on the day was eager to begin introducing well-being education into their school.

Driving back to Cork exhausted but happy, I began to reflect on my journey over the past number of years and how it led me to this point. When I decided to begin training in the area of mental health and well-being I was extremely insecure and nervous. Questions raced through my mind. What would people think? How would I overcome the challenges that would inevitably come my way? I had to quickly learn how to handle negative perceptions and reactions to what I was doing. I had to learn to become blinkered to certain opinions and trust that what I was doing was the right thing for me.

I really had to step out of my comfort zone and learn to live in the dichotomy of becoming comfortable outside of it. However as soon as I made this conscious decision, things began to slowly change for me. I began to meet a lot of people who encouraged me and what I was doing. I began to get feedback on how my work was not only useful, but also was helping people. This was a great motivator and helped me to not only step further out of my comfort zone, but would eventually lead me to dive head first, deep into this zone. And that is when things that I thought were never possible began to happen. I was published, I was invited to speak about my work at various events, I am even writing blogs every 2 weeks.

For all this I am extremely grateful, but it would have never happened if I hadn’t decided that I could step out of my comfort zone, and believe me, I was very comfortable in there! Now I know that it’s a place that I will never return to.
Despite the days where I feel I am not making progress or things are not moving fast enough in mental health education for my liking. However when I look at the difference in perception on the topic over the past number of years, my frustration quickly turns to motivation again.

So trust me, life really does begin outside of your comfort zone, so if you have a niggling ambition and you are afraid to go for it, for whatever reason. Stretch yourself and try to make the decision to break out of your comfort zone and go for it. I promise that if you give it everything you have, if you work hard for it, believe in yourself and are willing to sacrifice for it, you will never look back and redefine what you thought was possible for your life.

Link to shop: Choices – Facilitators Manual Description

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