My heart is pounding, my hands are so cold that my fingers have turned purple. I can feel a buzzing throughout my whole body, as if a swarm of butterflies has taken over it. Cold sweat is assembling under my armpits, even though I am shivering and freezing. This is me, nervous. This is me, totally out of my depth. This is me, an hour before a radio interview on BBC Leicester.
I am due to speak with the mid-morning/ early afternoon presenter Ben Jackson. I had contacted the BBC because I wanted to share my story in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which was the week from 1st – 7th March 2021. I have written a chapter in a book called Love Thy Body Vol 2, which is a collaboration of women who share their story of survival from trauma. My trauma is a severe eating disorder, triggered by some childhood trauma. You see, one trauma comes seldom alone.
I had been speaking with the team at the BBC in the run up to the interview and was amazed by their kindness – but it still did nothing to calm my nerves. I am someone who dramatizes everything, who envisages the worst happening in every situation. Surely, I would trip over my own words, stumble and stutter my way through sentences and probably forget words I have never forgotten before. I would become the laughing stock of the county and those who know me would pity me and whisper behind closed doors (or WhatsApp Groups) of what a complete fool I had been. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I keep putting myself into situations that scare every ounce of warmth out of my body? Am I some kind of masochist? Do I enjoy the self-torture (you could argue I do, since I nearly killed myself twice by not eating)?
The thing is, whilst I always have been and always will be a worrier, I am also a very stubborn and determined lady with a roaring fire in my belly. I do not believe in standing still, I don’t believe in sitting back and let my life pass me by. I am not willing to do nothing and shirk every opportunity that either presents itself or that I can create for myself. As much as it terrifies me, I need that buzz to grow. I need that swarm of butterflies to feel I am doing something that challenges me and moves me forward. I have to do scary things because I know that I will look back when I am really old and I will be so glad and so proud of myself. Jumping out of my comfort zone is exactly that: very uncomfortable. It feels crazy and unsafe and dramatic. My mind and body go into overdrive and take it in turns to manipulate me. One moment my body is calm and breathes normally, but my mind quickly takes over and makes my thoughts race around and creates a disastrous event. Once I have diverted those thoughts and breathe deeply again, my body goes into shock and starts shivering. Distractions such as work, housework or talking to people keep me busy and grounded for as long as possible, but when that dreaded moment arrives, all I need is silence to collect myself.
And then, when it was finally my turn to talk in front of thousands of listeners, calm surrounded me. My heartrate slowed down, my mind was clear, I immediately got up from my safety seat with all the research and notes I had made and never went back to it. I answered the questions with clarity and confidence. The nightmare of suddenly zoning out and not listening to the questions of the presenter were just that: a nightmare. I enjoyed the conversation so much that I was disappointed when the interview was over. When I put the phone down I was shaking again and my mind became flooded with the release of adrenalin and endorphins at the same time. A crazy cocktail of emotions, but most of all endless relief and gratitude that I pushed myself to do something I was terrified of.
I am not suggesting you throw yourself out of a plane to do skydiving if you are terrified of heights or take a bath with snakes when you know it would make your heart stop out of fear. I am talking about life’s situations, its obstacles and moments that either present themselves or are facilitated by what you do. If it scares you but you know it won’t harm you physically and mentally and you are also not harming anyone else, then go for it. It will make you grow as a person, it will enrich your mind and soul and what’s best, you will look back and be so glad you took the leap.
Tell me – what will you do outside your comfort zone?