A human being is only breath and shadow. ~ Sophocles
Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being. ~ Dale Turner
The post I am writing today was inspired by this photo of a shadow. So often individuals will spend their lives lurking in shadows (sometimes of their own creation, sometimes not). Since the inception of Facebook, many of us will even refer to ourselves as lurkers – watching the Facebook world regularly, but not often participating actively. We find the safety that quiet space and then get comfortable and do not want to move.
My eldest daughter can find herself in this position often. She tends to freeze in new situations and is not one to be an active participant. Mostly, she needs time to warm up, but often looses out on an option or opportunity because by the time she feels comfortable the moment has passed. She ends up frozen in the shadow when she would have really appreciated the opportunity to shine in the spotlight – and there is no one to blame, she is her own worst enemy in those moments. Recently we had the opportunity to take what is known as a “Duck Tour” – a tour in an amphibious vehicle that is capable of running on land and water. While we were in the water the tour guide asked if any children wanted to drive the boat. I told my daughter she should and she looked completely mortified. I prepared her over the next 10 minutes, and made sure that her younger sister drove the boat first (so she could see that her sister would do it and live through the experience). She really hesitated and some might argue I did the wrong thing by pushing her to drive the boat. I felt it was an important lesson for her to learn – how to confront her fears in the moment and no longer let an opportunity pass her by. Any person looking on would not have understood, as in the moments before she drove the boat she looked pained, miserable. Yet, as soon as she did start driving, a large smile erupted on her face. When the tour was over, she confidently stated that her favorite part was driving the boat. (I knew that would be the case, which is why I pushed her.) I took advantage of the opportunity to remind her that something out of our comfort zones can be a wonderful experience, if we allow ourselves to take risks.
I think there is a time for lurking in the shadows. I am not the one to dance wildly on the floor of a night club blaring with music (though I enjoy going along) and I am not a big fan of party games, but I will try a ropes course, drive a boat, travel to new destinations and try new foods. I think the important thing is to realize which activities are worth pushing yourself to move out of the comfort zones of daily life and into an opportunity for adventure and new experiences.
Today, 307 days ’til 40, I will continually challenge myself to live my life outside of the shadows of my comfort zone – sometimes the most exciting and rewarding opportunities are waiting for me to take that risk. I am sure you will find the same.
April 20, 2012 at 00:11
Understand this post so well.
April 20, 2012 at 07:46
I think so many people can relate.
April 20, 2012 at 00:23
I think we most need to get out of the shadows and start living more…awesome post.!!!
April 20, 2012 at 07:46
Thank you so much! When we do get out of those shadows we gain so much.
April 20, 2012 at 00:23
so very true! fear is powerful but we can push through it and actually end up having some fun! thank you for this!
April 20, 2012 at 07:45
Yes we can! You are welcome! 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 00:28
I relate so much to your daughter, and don’t seem to have outgrown this way of being. i’m envious that she has a parent who sees this in her and can support and encourage her in the way that you did. It’s still a fine line between pushing yourself in a healthy way, and not listening to your gut / putting yourself in a situation of danger. We walk that line 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 07:45
I think we all walk a fine line. I was the child that did take risks (and my other daughter takes too many) so it is balance in everyone’s life, it would seem.
April 20, 2012 at 00:29
You’re so right. Some of my fondest and most exciting memories are when I’ve pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. Thanks for the great reminder!
Oh, and can I just say that I rode our duck tour in Seattle a couple years ago for a friends birthday party. I loved it too…. even though I didn’t get to drive! 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 07:44
You are welcome! Yes, the duck tour was a lot of fun for us all! 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 00:44
I spent the first 34 years of my life living in everyone elses shadows. Like your daughter, I was very shy, had no self confidence and had fallen into step behind the rest of the world. When I turned 34 I decided that it was time to take a look at the “life” I was living and found it severely wanting. I changed. I stopped living in the shadows and I completely changed. I went into the library the other day and while I was talking to the tiny quiet librarian about my latest book that I was reading (some would say emotively gushing…hey! It was a great book!) I told her that I was disallusioned about something. She said “Please don’t say that…I take my inspiration from you. You are so bright and alive and vibrant and I can’t be like that. Every time you come in here you make me feel like everything is possible”. Not so long ago I was that librarian. Its all about taking life and making it your own personal choice. Its about choosing to live and “do” rather than say. Your daughter is still very young and one day, with your love and support and care she will feel safe enough to explore the world. I doubt that ANYONE would say that I was a shy retiring little butterfly that lives in the shadows any more. I blaze my own trails and life is now something to be jumped into with joy, fear, trepidation, whatever…I really loved this post and your daughter is really lucky to have someone who cares enough to allow her to explore her fears and horizons in the safety and comfort of your sphere 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 07:43
Thank you so much, and thank you for sharing your story so that other readers can benefit from your experience. What a difference it makes when we gain that confidence to be able to step out. 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 00:45
I stayed in my comfort zone for too many years..but recenty stepped out…..because I now feel free from the heavines and hesitation that depression brings. I actually recently wrote a blog on my experience…Diane
April 20, 2012 at 07:42
Wonderful – Diane, can you share the link to your blog page so that the readers here can read it if they like?
April 21, 2012 at 03:46
http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/stepping-out-of-my-comfort-zone-really/ Here is the link to my post if anyone is interested…Diane
Words From the Moon
April 20, 2012 at 00:55
How wonderful that you and your family are discovering the joy of stepping outside of your comfort zone, and as you said always within reason. I think of all I would have missed out on had I let fear guide my whole life – it may be scary at first to try some new things, but more times than not it is a joy!
April 20, 2012 at 07:41
I feel the same way! 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 03:03
that’s what good mothers do, too many parents let their kids run the show, love the photo.
April 20, 2012 at 07:41
So very true, I often find that the kids are in charge instead of the parents – thanks for the photo compliment! Must be because you are an artist (I love the photo too!) 🙂
April 20, 2012 at 05:28
Hey 400 days, thank you for sharing the story about driving the boat…my daughter has similar tendencies and it’s rewarding to see her overcome her fears.
I told another blogger that I wanted to get a group of bloggers to spend 30 days challenging themselves to face one fear every day and write about the results…I think it would be fun; what are your thoughts?
April 20, 2012 at 07:38
Wow, it would be AMAZING to challenge bloggers like that! I wonder if you could get people who could devote 30 days to it…. I wonder if you should devote your blog to 30+ days if this and have guest bloggers share their experiences (along with yours) over the 30 days of challenging themselves to face their fears) – GREAT idea!
April 20, 2012 at 21:24
It is a great idea – let us know if you go ahead with it.
It’s such important and relevant advice. I didn’t start stepping back and looking at my habits–really looking–until this year. I noticed that every time I wrote, even when I had a sitter, I wrote upstairs in my home. So I started going to coffee shops once in awhile, just to change things up. (I know, I’m wild and crazy.) More importantly, I started saying yes to events that I normally wouldn’t. At one event, I met a woman who subsequently started her own magazine, which I now write for!
April 20, 2012 at 15:18
A… I like his moment of the day where I read your posts and think about something else than finance and work… I was exactly like your daughter when I was a child. Always in the shadows, to shy to talk, to do or to try. And my mother was my best teacher. She never left me be like this, without too much pressure of course and I think she helped me a lot to be more open and free. Life is taking risks, trying, failing and success, life is to live what we want (when it is correct in a human way of course). It is a quite nice feeling to know we were afraid to do or say something but to have pushed ourselves to do it. Today, I know a am a shy person, I am afraid sometimes to say my real opinion so I push myself and say inside me “go on do it! You must or you will regret all your life” and the best decision always came out.
April 21, 2012 at 00:20
It sounds like your mother was a good influence on you and that now you push yourself when you need to. I also can struggle with stating my true opinion, but have found it so freeing to be able to be very open and honest with the individuals in my life.
April 20, 2012 at 19:43
Face a fear every day???? I don’t think that is the right way to step outside the box – do we really have 30 fears to face, I don’t!!! Sorry, girls and I wouldn’t like to face fears everyday neither. To step outside the box or zone, doesn’t have to do with fears or does it. And why should we have to step outside our comfort zone and try things that we don’t really feel comfortable with. To get a richer life???? I have never felt the need for stepping out of my box and I had a very adventures life …. Lived abroad – done crazy things, but I have never left my comfort zone. I have never challenged my life. I have a mental fear of heights – I would never go skydiving because it should make my life richer and more fulfilled. I can fulfill my life inside my box. A fantastic subject again.
April 21, 2012 at 00:19
Like you, I am not sure I actually have 30 fears to face, but I do know that on a daily basis I could probably benefit from stepping out of my comfort zone, in bigger or smaller ways (i.e.: spending more time with people when I would rather curl up in bed with a book)……
April 21, 2012 at 01:36
This I can relate to, maybe it’s to be in the shadow … I would call it quality time with ourselves. It’s like with blogging … we could do other things rather than reading, writing and answering – but we do something we enjoy and then I think we are outside the shadow.
April 20, 2012 at 22:35
Nice blog! Thanks for the “like.”
April 21, 2012 at 00:17
Thanks, and thanks for coming to visit! 🙂
April 21, 2012 at 01:21
Yes!!!!!! Life must be lived!
I’m reminded of a saying I use a lot, “It’s cheaper than tuition!” In other words, we learn best by attempting things that are a bit beyond us and learning from the mistakes.
“A rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out.”
April 22, 2012 at 00:23
Great sayings! Thanks for sharing them! 🙂
April 21, 2012 at 11:38
Reblogged this on silkeberens and commented:
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The Cosy Creative
April 21, 2012 at 19:49
Can definitely related to this, good post.
April 22, 2012 at 00:12
April 24, 2012 at 11:14
Could not agree more! (and I’m a little behind on your blog so reading through the backlog starting here!)
Being someone who was a lot like your reserved-natured daughter, I know exactly how she feels and you did the right thing in pushing her a little – all I’d advise is to never push harshly, even if she’s being stubborn (in that case let her sit and see what she’s missing), because people like this don’t react well to a “kick in the pants” as it were and it will definitely leave a mark in her mind regarding you. I’m not saying back off easily, but watch her and pick and choose the battles – but if you elect to withdraw from a fight because its not going to be won easily, let her sit and regret what she’s missing (like in this instance if she’d been that difficult, letting her watch all the fun sis was having) because that too will leave an impression and in future such moments it could swing in the “maybe this time I should” direction.
I’m sure she’ll be fine once she finds herself.
April 24, 2012 at 16:01
Very good point…. depending on the particular situation sometimes I will let her watch others having fun and at other times I push her to be involved…. all about carefully finding that balance.