New experiences contribute greatly to how we develop and change over the course of our lifetime. Sometimes we get too comfortable and forget the importance of challenging ourselves. Stepping outside of our comfort zone is certainly not an easy thing to do. It takes a bit of courage, determination, encouragement and faith to take those brave leaps forward. One thing is certain; the rewards you gain from challenging yourself are immeasurable. The personal transformation that you will realize from these new experiences is almost magical.
Boundaries, and pushing them, seems to be a resounding theme in our lives, especially since we started homesteading. I’ve found myself on the ground in the pig pasture hugging a pig as I tried to pull him loose from the shelter he got stuck under. I’ve been forced to mercy kill an animal, something no one wants to do. Farm life forces you to step outside of your comfort zone time and time again. Each uncomfortable experience has enriched me and subsequently those around me. The only regrets I have in life are those moments where I let fear hold me back.
The rewards that come when you challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone far outweigh the momentary discomfort or fear. It’s important to not be complacent with your life and to continue seeking new experiences however big or small, these experiences enrich our lives with continued personal growth and a sense of satisfaction.
Recently I really did something that was WAAAY outside of my comfort zone. My husband had planned a fun off road trip with our neighbour. He wanted to give his mother a one of a kind experience while she was visiting. They were going to to a back roads tour on the ATV’s. My husband strained his back pretty badly a few days before the trip, so last minute he suggested I go in his place. I was the passenger on this trip once before and was fully aware that this particular ride is not an “easy” one by any means. I hemmed and hawed for a while and shocked myself by finally saying yes.
Half an hour later, we hit the road, forgetting bug jackets and eye protection, but remembering the lemonade. I was driving the machine, an RTV 900 UTV, a two seater diesel that normally ferries dirt around the farm. The first six minutes of the journey was easy and relaxing for us AND the machine, but that was not to last. We arrived at an area littered with downed trees. We were soon deeply entrenched in a tight and restrictive forest with branches scraping and slapping against us. My eyes were everywhere: watching for obstacles on either side and from above, dodging rocks, and who knows what else. As this was happening, I was being whipped in the face with branches (tree kisses, I’m told they’re called.)
This went on for far too long.
The next obstacle, and my least favourite, was water. We made our way through three fairly rough and deep bogs successfully. It required a lot of fast manoeuvring: you just have to go fast and never slow down or stop. My mother in law stuck her feet on the dashboard, uncertain of how high the water was going to come. We slipped and slid around, navigated ridges and bumps and I was extremely relieved that we made it through. Unbeknownst to me, the worst was yet to come.
We drove a few minutes further and arrived at what is best described as an extremely large pond shaped mud pit. It was swarming with black flies and, I imagine, leeches. I was certain that we were going to have to turn back, but to my shock and horror our neighbour launched right into it. I swore, gritted my teeth and followed. We were about half way through and I had to veer to the left quickly to reach what I assumed was more solid ground. Just as we changed direction we stopped moving. The engine revved, the wheels spun and we stood still. We were set upon by swarms of black flies and it was an utterly miserable situation. After about 30 minutes of trying everything, it was discovered that I had forgotten to put the machine in 4WD. I was completely humiliated. With the flip of a switch and a bit of help with the winch, we were out of the bog and back on track.
Then we came to what could be described as an enormous mud pit swarming with black flies. We are going to have to turn back, I thought to myself with certainty. A moment later I was racing through the bog, teeth clenched.
The next obstacle involved gigantic ruts in the ground, ruts that were too deep to drive in as they were made by a machine far larger than our ATV. I had to sort of drive on a steep sideways angle while avoiding trees and other jagged things. My knuckles turned white from gripping that steering wheel so tight. We got through with a combination of determination and luck, I think. I was too mortified from the mud pit incident to even entertain the idea of further failure!
We came to the trail end, and our neighbour joked that we needed to turn around and go back the way we came. I KNEW he was fibbing! Had he been telling the truth I might have curled up on the ground sobbing.
The rest of the trip was quite leisurely, almost pleasant. I had been smacked in the face really hard by a branch at one point and just as the trip got easy, the throbbing and swelling started. I was too battle weary to really care though. We did enjoy some truly beautiful scenery. For a while we stood at the edge of the Canada/US border, in a soy bean field, which was pretty cool. Beautiful farms, rolling hills and of course the invisible wall separating one country from the other. Although the remaining part of the trip was quite tame, I was flooded with relief when we finally made it to the home stretch. I was exhausted.
We arrived home and apparently I looked wild, stunned, and battle scarred. My husband kept asking how I was while we recounted the story. I guess I was a sight to behold: “like you are in shock, or something”, was how I was described. I applied some magic cream to my face, had a glass or two of our strong parsnip wine and slept heavily, waking up feeling refreshed and happy.
This adventure sounds awful right?
It was really hard but at the same time it was fantastic. I came out of it a bit more confident in my abilities. I can drive our machine far better now. I feel as though I could go forward in situations where I would have previously turned back. We often deal with muddy, messy jobs when working with the tractor and I think I can be more helpful in those situations now. I know how to go about winching someone out of a stuck situation. And I won’t ever forget about using 4×4 again!
Sometimes you don’t know what you are capable of until you are put in a situation that tests you. It’s really empowering. When given the chance to do something that is outside of your comfort zone, let go of the self doubt or fear, seize the day and just go for it. The successes, the failures and all the stuff in-between will enrich you, empower you, and nourish you.