‘People need to go outside their comfort zones to create great work.’
This was the advice of Kate Tempest (spoken-word poet / rapper / playwright / novelist / generally-all-round-amazing-human-being) who I saw ‘In Conversation’ at Byron Bay Community Theatre a few weeks ago.
I sat there nodding my head as I listened. This was just what I needed to hear, because I am going further and further from my comfort zone right now. It can be scary and overwhelming at times. I find myself thinking ‘Can I really do these things I’ve committed to?!’ ‘Am I in over my head?’
This week I decided to illustrate 7 songs in 7 days. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I asked friends on Facebook for song suggestions, and had a lot of fun listening to them all.
Then it was time to get working. Every day this week I chose a song, thought about how I could illustrate that, designed, drew and edited an image. Some days it all just flowed and I really enjoyed it. Other days I struggled to find time in between making school lunches, breastfeeding, bedtime stories and that thing called LIFE. It was hard.
But having declared my challenge on social media there was no backing out. I was happy to share some of my illustrations, and others I would have preferred to put away in a sketchbook never to be seen. Yet out each and every one of those seven illustrations went, for everyone to view. I worried about what people would think. Would they like it? Was I annoying people?
I was out of my comfort zone.
As hard as it was to complete such a big task and expose my work- the good and the bad – it was worth it. I drew subjects I would never have thought of otherwise, I felt connections between the lyrics and the images, I had little ideas stirring for new stories. This may not seem like much, but it is a small step in the direction that I truly dream for my life: to write and illustrate books for children and young adults.
It is easy to stay safe, to stick with what we know and what we are confident we can achieve. Yet it is beyond this comfort zone that amazing things can happen. Yes, we could fail. And if we do, we learn and grow and try again. Out of the comfort zone, we can achieve things beyond what we think is possible, perhaps beyond what we can even imagine. It can be scary and stressful, but it can also be exciting and fulfilling.
What is it you really want to do?
Perhaps you want to make more connections in your community. Why not join the lifesaving club, or a choir? Maybe you want to progress in your career, write a book, or be an actor. Whatever it is, I say give it a go. Follow that little voice that whispers ‘maybe I can’. You can! Try, learn, make mistakes, and try again. It’s all part of the adventure.
You’ll never know until you take that first step.