Stepping out of your comfort zone
Our music coordinator and bass facilitator Jason writes about stepping out of your comfort zone.
Following on from his video (below), Jase writes about his own experiences. He discusses the challenges he had to overcome, as well as the rewards.
A video by Jase about stepping out of your comfort zone
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Following on from my video about stepping out of your comfort zone to help with your mental health and wellbeing, I decided to write a blog about my own experiences. I wanted to share how it worked for me and how it made me feel.
There are a couple of events that stick in my mind from when I was at my worst, anxiety wise. I had always been terrible at getting to sleep, and the sleep I got was often of a low quality. I didn't realise it was affecting me as much as it was until I had a panic attack whilst driving.
After speaking to therapists, and generally going on a mission to find out why I was feeling like I was, it was decided that it was due to many years of not sleeping properly. This was made worse by countless hours overthinking and worrying – both the cause and effect of my poor sleep. Once this was established, I knew what I had to do to help myself, and so I began my journey.
During this period of time I was feeling at my worst, but I kept trying lots of different methods to help myself regardless. Without realising it, there were lots of events in this period that helped me a great deal, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time. Two events stand out, and I want to talk about them in the hope it will encourage you to take more risks and step outside of your comfort zone.
The first event was when I was asked by a good friend of mine to do a workshop at the college he worked at, for their annual business week. I would be giving a talk about being a freelance musician and then playing some bass. I've never been a public speaker, but when I was asked to do this I said yes because I thought it was something I should try and get used to.
On the morning of the workshop I was feeling terrible, really terrible. I hadn't slept very well, due to over thinking and pre-empting what might happen in the workshop. So naturally I didn't want to go. I was scared and imagining of all sorts of ridiculous excuses to get out of it, but I knew I had to do it. It wasn't fair on my friend, his students – or me – if I didn’t go.
Fast forward to the workshop… I was nervous and it was probably very apparent, but the more questions I was asked the easier I found it. It was definitely one of the hardest two hours of my life, and I didn't particularly enjoy it, but when it was over I felt relieved.
When some of the students came forward to speak with me afterwards, asking how they could keep in touch to follow my journey, I realised I must have done something right. On reflection, I realised nothing bad had happened. The students that are most likely to succeed are the ones that are proactive. They're the ones that show interest, ask questions, and respect what you have to say.
This experience opened a new door for me. Without that door, I would never have agreed to get involved with Tonic and run their music workshops. This one experience helped me push further into that field of work, and I have now been Tonic's music coordinator and workshop facilitator for over a year.
The second event that sticks in my mind was at a festival. Again, it was a day where I really didn't want to leave the house, let alone go onstage to perform to an audience of over 5000. I remember being backstage and just hoping something – anything – would happen that meant the gig would be cancelled and I could just go home. Maybe a storm? Perhaps a power cut? All sorts of eventualities were going through my head, as I longed for the festival to be called off before I was due onstage.
Needless to say, none of these things happened and I had to put on a brave face and perform. I won't lie and say I enjoyed the gig – I didn't. During the show I was searching for people in the crowd that looked like they were slagging off the band. I don't know why. I was looking at the setlist probably every 30 seconds to see how many songs were left before I could get back to my safe space (my car) and go home.
When the gig was finished I packed up my equipment, loaded it in my car, said my goodbyes, and got on the road. I suddenly felt amazing. A mixture of finishing my job for the day, realising nothing bad had happened, and recognising that what I had been a part of had lifted the spirits of many people, made me feel really positive.
The point of these stories is that I didn't want to do either of these events. They were far outside of my comfort zone at the time, but I did them anyway. Nothing bad happened, and I felt an immense sense of accomplishment for having done so. Any negativity I had before the events melted away to become positivity.
Throughout this time I was convinced that music was preventing me from getting better, despite how much I love it, because it was my work. But actually, it was listening to and playing music that got me out of the funk – excuse the pun.
I always try to remember that, if I'm feeling anxious, I can turn to music, confident it will help me when times are hard.