Thursday, 23 February 2012

LifeCircle 2012: The discomfort zone

Life Circle I have to be honest, I'd actually completed this task by the time I set it, but it was the act of doing it that gave me the idea for the post.

On 10th February, I was on the radio.

A long, long time ago, I was involved slightly in student radio. I presented a music show on University Radio Nottingham in what can only be described as the graveyard hour - the two hours straight after the chart show had been broadcast on Sunday night, a time when people turned the radio off and turned the telly on. I'm pretty sure my main radio rival was Annie Nightingale and really, I couldn't stand up to her. Still, I had fun but it was a short-lived affair. I was talking to my peers effectively and I was probably too young to be scared. Now, it's a different thing - I am very conscious of how I sound and I don't want to end up coming over as an idiot.

I still put myself forward as a guest on Sally Naden's show at BBC Radio Lancashire and she came straight back with a date. It was far enough in advance to have plenty of time to think about it, what I might say. And worry. Oh yes, I worried. I understood the format of the show as I'd heard it a couple of times, notably when Nickie was a guest on the same show last year. I was wondering what the other guests would be like, whether they would understand what the hell I was talking about, whether they would be nice to me, and so forth.

As the day got ever closer, it occupied more and more of my thoughts. I went to bed thinking about, I woke up thinking about it. I was fairly certain I wouldn't sleep well the night before and that was partly true, not helped by children coming in to talk to me when they should have left me alone meaning my promised lie in didn't happen because the second I was awake, my brain started chattering at me. Self doubt and nerves were at their peak.

The thing is, when you get like that, you want to get out of doing it. By setting a date, I couldn't. I couldn't let someone down and I'd told a lot of people that I was doing it so I would have looked very lame had I ducked out. So, although I was anxious and nervous and feeling out of my comfort zone, I had to step into the unknown.

I made sure I got to Blackburn in plenty of time and my fellow guests had already arrived. Luckily, Zoe and Muzz were both really nice people. But still the anxiety was rising. There was no turning back, I was going on the radio. Sally, the presenter, appeared and she is superb at her job, plus she is really genuine and interested.

I know that, by the time the programme started, my heart was racing. I was sweating too. The show actually takes place in a room where an audience can turn up but we only had an audience of one that day. I think that helped as it didn't feel like being on the radio and I could imagine that we were just having a chat amongst ourselves, just with microphones on the way. I was calmer but I know I was sweating still.

I think it went well. I had positive feedback from those who listened in. (And no you can't listen again, iPlayer only saves shows for 7 days!). At the end, I was both relieved and proud that I had got through it without making myself look a fool. Actually, I might have done OK really and I mostly sounded intelligent. Ultimately, it's not really about what other people felt but how I felt about it. I had a sense of achievement and mild disbelief.

I had taken myself out of my comfort zone. I know if I did it again, I would be more relaxed. In other words, it wouldn't be quite so out of my comfort zone. I know also that I have to push myself a little bit to do some things from time to time. Just because it makes me anxious doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. It's fear - of the unknown, of failure, of looking stupid. Mostly, those fears are unfounded when you try.

Now it's your turn. How did you get on? Let me know if you managed to do the task you set yourself, but also how you felt in anticipation of doing it, during and afterwards. If you didn't manage the task, do you know what stopped you and how do you feel about that? Was it worse or better than the anticipation of doing it? If you did manage to complete it, how did it go? Do you feel better before or after doing it?

Don't worry if your post is not written up yet. Do take some time to reflect on everything as it will really help you understand how you react to working outside of your comfort zone - something we are all going to have to do if we want to achieve all the things we planned to do a few weeks back.

I hope I didn't make this task too hard. If you struggled and need a bit of support, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me via email and we'll have a (virtual) chat. If something stopped you doing your task, whatever it was, please do not feel like a failure. I appreciate this might have been difficult but I wanted you to test yourself and if you weren't able to break through that, we can work on resolving it. You have plenty of time to get it done or your post written. I will be really interested to read your posts this time as I've never done anything quite like this before.

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