What makes you uncomfortable? Public speaking? Airplanes? Social gatherings? Visiting your in-laws? Regardless, we all have our ‘things’ that make us uneasy, hesitant, unsure of ourselves – right? It’s all about that ‘comfort zone’ and what brings us out of it. How do you break out of yours? For some of us, it’s not so easy. Here’s a look into my world…
I’ll be very honest in saying that the thought of being a normal, functioning human being was inconceivable after having my son three years ago. Thrown into a new world of parenting, I was exhausted, fat, and scared to death of simply ‘being.’ I’m sure most first-time parents are terrified, but let it be noted – I was an extreme case, to say the least. For practically the first year of my son’s life, I was not just a stay-at-home mommy – I was a recluse. I did not enjoy being outside, I did not enjoy seeing other human beings, I did not enjoy most aspects of life at that time. Depressed? Maybe. Okay, yes, I was very depressed. More so, I was trapped in my safe little world that I had created. My comfort zone was suffocating me.
In retrospect, I can’t say specifically what happened over the last couple of years that slowly brought me out of my home and into the world again. Baby steps, perhaps. But steps in the right direction, nonetheless. Readers, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit how closed-off from literally everything I really was two years ago. During the early months of Lucas’ life, it was all I could do to muster up the courage to take a shower and go outside to push him in the stroller for a few minutes. The simple thought of being around people gave me anxiety. Trips to the grocery store were out of the question. Shopping – was a disaster. Going to a park to get some fresh air – forget about it. I was frozen in time, desperately trying to care for another human being while I could hardly take care of myself.
As I said, embarrassing. I felt like a failure. I saw nothing but the negative in myself. What had I amounted to at that time? College dropout, new mother, and struggling to simply ‘be.’ I was spinning. What was this life I had created? What was this life that I painstakingly refused to live? What would it take to get me out of my comfort zone?
Friends, this is difficult to talk about – but honestly, it’s the first layer of myself that I am peeling away at; the layer of guilt, shame, and fear that I want to share as a reminder that it is possible to keep living when the world seems like an impossible place to be in. It took a couple of years to realize that I needed help. REAL help. Therapeutic help. I needed an outlet to stay sane; to feel again; to remember who Kiley was. This blog has been my saving grace. An outlet to purge my thoughts, fears, regrets, everything. And YOU, readers, have been my motivation to keep going. All of you. Friends, family, ‘strangers’ who have become the best of friends to me. You guys are the ones who challenge me to not only keep going, but also to keep breaking down the walls of comfort.
I think there is always more we can do to challenge ourselves. With extreme social anxiety, I’ve used my son as my security blanket for social situations. He has become my ‘go-to’ guy when anxiety surfaces and I feel I’m losing control. Lucas centers me; he distracts me at times from my nervous feelings; and above all else he is the smile on my face during those panicky moments in public. So, lately I’ve wondered: What can I do to challenge myself? What can I do to get out of my comfort zone?
Thus, I’ve found modeling. This really is quite an amusing topic. Who would have thought that I – anxiety-ridden, self-conscious Ki would take up modeling as a means to break free from comfort? But hey, I’m quite the impulsive, odd woman, so friends and family shouldn’t be too surprised by this decision (This is your cue to chuckle, guys – I’m learning to laugh at myself as well). You know, it really doesn’t make sense that I would choose such an industry to be involved in – seeing as how I have many body image issues, it would probably not be advised to take on a world where confidence is THE most important quality to have, when I seemingly have very little, if any, confidence at all. Okay, I digress. Maybe the point here is I make everything difficult on myself. BUT! I’m DOING something that is beyond freeing, beyond therapeutic, so far beyond my comfort zone.
There is something to be said for the sheer panic that I feel right before a fashion show or photo shoot. There is that ONE moment where my mind screams, DON’T DO IT. YOU WILL FAIL. And I have a choice. To do it now, or be swallowed up by the thoughts that have been bringing me down for years. I have a choice. Do I listen to the, “You’re not pretty enough; You’re not skinny enough; You’re not good enough?” Or do I walk out in front of everyone, fully exposed, and say – Fuck all of this self-doubt and self-loathing – you are here, now, be you and no one will take that moment away from you...
Really, the choice is a daily battle in my head. No, I don’t model every day. But my mind speaks very loudly, readers, and some days I struggle so very much. I can’t even begin to tell you how tough the battle with myself has been recently. I think I offer this story to you because in pushing myself I have come to know myself better. I’ve learned that I break easily, but each time I break, I grow a little stronger. Each time my mind aches and I see nothing but ugliness in the mirror, my heart grows a bit stronger as well. I mentioned baby steps earlier in this post. I am the epitome of baby steps. And I am okay with that. My journey is very slow, very hesitant, but fluid nonetheless. Readers, make it a daily challenge to yourself to get out of the comfort zone you have created. You will see the good, the bad, the strong, the weak. You will see all sides of yourself.
There is nothing more beautiful than getting to know oneself. There is nothing more beautiful than loving yourself.
***Photos courtesy of Mike Washington Photography***