Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.
Getting out of your comfort zone can look different to different people.
For some, it could mean climbing a mountain. For others, it could mean taking a course.
We’re all different.
A few weeks ago, through work, I was afforded just an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone
I was offered an opportunity to cover a national story in another jurisdiction for my publication’s parent company.
Humbled at the offer, I was also extremely nervous. However, I agreed to the assignment anyways seeing it as the incredible opportunity it was.
The assignment was covering the verdict, in person, relating to a disgraced former Alberta and B.C. top doctor who had been on trial for the sexual assault of a minor.
While the subject matter of this particular court case happened to be extremely disturbing, the overall experience is a new high point in my experience as a journalist.
And an experience it was.
Instead of working in nice familiar territory, I flew out of Edmonton to a northern Alberta community that I had previously spent time in during my past life as an Emergency Medical Technician. It’s a community I hadn’t been back to in over a decade.
I attended an unfamiliar courthouse, sat in an unfamiliar gallery and listened as the justice gave the reasons for the decision of their verdict.
Thanks to the team I had behind me, who were helping me from afar via messaging technology, we were able to break the story of the conviction prior to any of the other news outlets.
Court lasted just over an hour, and then it came time to write.
I’d already checked out of my hotel as I had no idea how long court was going to take, so I headed back to the airport while I waited for that evening’s flight back to Edmonton.
Fortunately, the airport had a lounge where I was able to set up and work as I drank cup-after-cup of bad coffee with the backdrop of planes taking off and landing and people coming and going.
I ended up getting the full story up a little after noon, still ahead of most everyone else.
I did find certain aspects of this experience awkward, though.
Being a community journalist in Stettler and Castor, my court experience has been somewhat limited.
However, after this opportunity I now have more experience in my tool box so that when something like this pops up again it will definitely go more smoothly.
Honestly, I don’t know that I would have had the faith or confidence in myself to take this assignment a year ago.
The thing is, a lot has happened in the last year and my confidence and experience have both increased significantly.
I did learn a few things on this adventure, though.
Before this week, I had never travelled by air for work. This means I have never travelled by air with my camera, laptop and tablet along with all the peripherals that go along with them.
Added to that, it has been at least six or seven years since I was last on an airplane, so I really wasn’t 100 per cent sure what to expect as I made my way through security.
Thanks to some pre-reading, and asking some questions as I stumbled through security, I made it through without any major issues on the way flight out. On the way back, after having been through the process once, I breezed through.
Second, being on the ground in a strange courthouse, in a strange city, I obviously had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. I had to ask the people on the ground where I was going and for the information I needed.
There was a time not so long ago where I would not have had the confidence to do that; however, I asked, found the information, made it into the court room, took copious amounts of notes and, again, got the information I needed.
Third, I figured out exactly how light I can pack for a trip like this.
Normally when I’m on the road, I’m one of those individuals who tends to over-pack. I know it, and it is something my wife teases me about.
For this trip, I was determined that I was going to work out of a carry-on bag. That included my work gear and clothing.
I stripped out all the excess equipment from my camera bag-backpack and somehow managed to condense everything I needed for the two days, including work gear into it.
I have to say, it actually felt really good not having to haul around a bunch of extra stuff around.
When I look back at this experience and put it in perspective compared to the decade since I left ambulance, I am awestruck.
Nearly a decade ago, I was forced to leave a career I loved due to a fractured psyche.
Six or seven years ago, I was so mired in darkness I couldn’t see a way out.
Five years ago I started writing and found myself a new career which has allowed be to grow and heal in ways I never thought possible.
While I still, at times, have confidence issues, they are no longer what they were. This entire adventure is proof of that.
Instead, I am finding that I have to balance the confidence in between the insecurities I used to have and the arrogance I know can develop if left unchecked.
I definitely would not wish my past experiences on anyone else, but I don’t know that I would change them either.
Those experiences are what has led me to where I am today.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again for those in the back.
Where you are today isn’t your final destination.
Dealing with my mental health over the years routinely pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Accepting this assignment was definitely out of my comfort zone, but there is no substitute for the experience gained.
Shannon L. Alder, an American inspirational author and therapist, is quoted “life always begins with one foot outside your comfort zone.”
I know that if it weren’t for pushing outside my comfort zone, I would not be where I am today.
For those who are struggling, I urge you to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seek help.
Better days are ahead.