Why the heck would I go to a busy place, such as a mall, and lay on the ground for 30 seconds? People will stare, laugh, and think that I’m a weirdo, right? Well maybe, but realistically no.
What Is a Comfort Zone Challenge?
A comfort zone challenge is a controlled, fear-inducing exercise that is done in order to overcome a fear or at least increase your courage in that situation. A popular comfort zone challenge for overcoming shyness is to lay down on the side of a busy street for 30 seconds.
The idea here is that by putting yourself in this uncomfortable situation, you will come to realize that your worst fears don’t actually come true. Furthermore, by doing the same comfort zone challenge over and over again, you will get used to being in that situation and your fears will subside or eventually go away.
My Comfort Zone Challenge in Baltimore, MD
I found out about comfort zone challenges after watching a Tedx Talk by Till H. Gross, a prominent influencer in the comfort zone challenge world. I watched this Tedx Talk on December 13, 2017. Two days later, I did my first comfort zone challenge.
It was time for me to step up to the plate and not be held back by my fear anymore.
Decembers in Baltimore are very cold, so I didn’t want to lay on the street. I chose to go to the Towson Town Center mall instead. I picked the busiest location in the mall: the atrium outside of the food court on the third floor.
Nerves, Worries, Anxiety, and Stress
When I woke up that morning, I was already getting nervous. My nerves only got worse throughout the day as I kept on thinking about the comfort zone challenge. I tried to reassure myself that nothing bad was going to happen by laying on the ground in the mall, but that didn’t help my nerves.
For some reason, my biggest fear was that a security guard would approach me and I would get in trouble. I’ll give you a hint: this never happened.
As I drove to the mall, my legs were already tensing up. I could feel my heart rate increasing as I parked my car in the parking garage.
I anxiously walked towards the center of the mall. My heart was racing faster than ever. I approached the center of the atrium… and kept on going.
I got in my own head—I was too nervous. Yet I thought to myself that I would regret it if I didn’t do the comfort zone challenge here and now. So when I got to the other end of the mall, I turned right around and proceeded to walk back towards the food court.
30 Seconds On The Ground
Two steps from the center of the atrium, I took a deep breath and casually laid down on the ground. I put my hands behind my head. It is encouraged to put your hands behind your head to communicate to others that you are not in distress or hurt.
My heart was still racing and my muscles were as tense as ever. But I oddly found laying there relaxing. Furthermore, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there and taking a step in the right direction of overcoming this fear.
I looked up to the fourth floor and saw a teenage girl talking on her cell phone. I remember thinking to myself that she’s probably telling the person on the phone about this random guy laying on the ground in the middle of the mall. But then I thought about it and I had a realization that I didn’t care. I realized that even if she did say something about me over the phone, it didn’t really matter.
I continued to look around from side to side. Everyone that walked by me took a quick glance at me, and then continued on their way. It’s almost like they felt more awkward looking at me than I felt laying on the ground.
I pulled my phone out of my coat pocket to snap a photo of my feet. The first picture I took was very shaky which goes to show you how my body was handling the stress. The second picture of my feet was much less shaky and came out clear.
After snapping the photos, I got up and walked out of the mall. I was certainly still shaking at this point, but I felt a sense of relief and also felt pretty dam proud of myself.
Lessons From My Comfort Zone Challenge
The biggest lessons that I learned from doing my comfort zone challenge was that it was not as scary as I imagined it. It’s crazy how the human brain will instinctively go through the worst case scenarios in an attempt to protect itself from being put in a fear-inducing situation.
All things considered, I feel really good about my accomplishment. In the future, I plan to do more comfort zone challenges, and I will definitely share them with you.
If you struggle with a fear of public attention or a lack of confidence, I encourage you to try a comfort zone challenge for yourself. From my experience, I can guarantee that you’ll walk a little taller from that day on.