Do you want to know a secret? A secret to gaining the life and control over your life that you want for yourself? The secret is this:

It’s not going to happen with you sitting at your computer browsing Reddit.

My Own Experiences with Expanding Comfort Zones

Now, you might think I am talking conceptually, when you yourself need real, actionable advice. But it is the concept that you need to wrap your head around in order to begin creating the life you want.

Here are some examples from my own life:

I remember when I was 18. I graduated high school. I literally spent every weekend at home, playing video games or doing some nonsense on my computer. I had no friends and I was absolutely unable to perform socially in any way. I could not even make conversation. Not even small talk. So I spent that entire summer in the library, reading books about psychology, shyness, and social anxiety to read anything about social skills that I could. That fall, as I entered my first semester of University, I was determined to have social skills. On my second day of school, I was at the bank waiting to open an account. I saw a girl also filling out a form. I blurted out  “what a long form, huh?” That started a 2-hour conversation.

I remember the first time I tried to ask a girl out. This was a friend of a friend who I somehow managed to ask for her number. I spent probably a week thinking about wanting to call her, not knowing what to say, and then chickening out and not calling. One day, I decided to go outside for a walk. I took my cell phone with me. I called her. She answered. I said hi and then asked “I think you’re pretty, do you want to hang out sometime.” She giggled, never answered my question, and just said “I’ll call you back.” She never called back.

I remember the first time I went to a night club. I was around 22. I was a full-fledged adult, but I was only several years removed from having no social life and being a complete loner. I had never danced in my life. In fact, I thought I physically was unable to dance and that dancing required special training. Luckily, I had seen a video about the “2 step” (when you move side to side to the beat of the music) and that night, I did the 2 step all night, while also throwing in some stupid moves. And I got to dance with girls too :).

I remember being in a speech class during my last year college. I had been terrified of public speaking since I was in 9th grade when our teacher forced us to make a presentation. Back then, I avoided eye contact the entire time and struggled mightily to talk. From there, I joined a Toastmasters club, a club dedicated to practicing public speaking. When the time came for these speeches to be made, and all of us had to present them, I gave my speech, which I inserted a bit of my own humor in and the class of about 25 laughed heartily. I was nominated to tell the speech at another meeting, this time in front of about 100 students and accepted.  My first job out of college, I actually got a position as a teacher, teaching and speaking in front of 40 students everyday.

Expanding Comfort Zones Does Not Come Easy

All of the above examples from my life, I considered small victories. Those events did not fulfill my life nor did they fill the feelings of emptiness I’ve carried with me most of my life. What they were were revealing moments showing how far I’ve come. They revealed that I’m not incapable of socializing. They revealed that I can be normal. They revealed the progress I’ve made. Even when I asked that girl out and she essentially rejected me (ouch), it was a victory. It stung heavily to be rejected, but the fact that I was able to push myself to asking her out… that is what I commend. And that is what you should commend as well — effort, courage, and expanding your comfort zone, no matter the outcome.

Expanding comfort zones does not come easy. It forces you to feel uncomfortable. It forces you to try something new and risk rejection, humiliation, and failure. It forces you to try something that is not safe. Let me shine a light on this topic for you though: everyone has difficulties expanding their comfort zones. And those that do so, usually do with a heavy heart and sometimes their decisions back firing on them. However, this is a necessary step for interpersonal growth, whether you’re a normal person raised by a normal family with no psychological issues or you’re a person suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder — expanding your comfort zone beyond sitting at home surfing the internet every night is important for you.

Tips for Expanding Your Comfort Zone

Start small.

When it comes to events that can provoke anxiety, I always advocate the desensitization method, or, starting at the shallow end of the pool. You always start small. You start small and practice that until you feel confident about that, then move to the next one. Here’s an example: start saying “hi” to the cashiers or receptionists of places you visit. The first time you try it, you’ll be sweating, your heart will be pounding and you might even not do it several times out of fear. Keep at it until you can do it everytime. After that, you can maybe move onto asking “how is your day?”

Find a colleague or friend or someone in the same situation.

What makes things hard is when we feel we are facing our challenges by ourselves. If you can find someone in the same situation, the camaraderie and knowing someone is going through the same issues as you are will help you greatly.

Mark your progress.

Expanding your comfort zone is a difficult and long journey. It’s such a long journey that at times, you might feel like you’re just treading water and not improving at all. This is why you need to keep a journal. Written or online or on your phone, write down where you are at now. 1 month or 6 months down the line, read your log and you’ll be amazed to see how far you’ve come. That feeling of progress is what will keep you going.


Don’t compare yourself to others — compare yourself to yourself.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I have for you is to not fall into the psychological trap of comparing yourself to others. Not only will you likely pick the coolest or richest or most successful people to compare yourself to, but you’ll also make yourself feel like shit in the process. You are here on this earth to be a better you, not to become them. Remember that.