‘Nature Girl’ Kristin Armstrong on Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

“The door is unlocked. Let’s go outside.”

By Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Caro Ginorio
Kristin Armstrong Summer 2021

I’m a nature girl.

Give me mountains, the ocean, toes in the sand, a grove of trees, the rush of a river, the hush of a forest, the sound of birds greeting the morning, a sunrise, a blue sky, a beckoning stretch of trail, the smell of rain or fresh-cut grass, flowers, a sunset, a full moon, a starry night. Nothing can rid me of anxiety, clear writer’s block or turn my frown upside down faster than going outside. When I am feeling out of sorts, nature recalibrates me and returns me to myself. It’s similar to the calming factor of connection or oneness I get from meditation, reclaiming my part in All That Is. Being important and infinitesimal all at once is a sweet, inexplicable remembrance and relief. It has a transactional quality for me, exchanging whatever is bringing me down for something that lifts me up.

Going outside can mean grounding in nature, or remembering to play. Going outside can also signify stepping outside our comfort zone.

What does it mean to you to go outside your comfort zone?

Is it giving a speech? Asking someone on a date? Learning something new? Physical exertion? Admitting you need help and seeking it? Letting go of something or someone important? Saying yes to a new job, a move, an invitation? Signing up? Starting over? Starting a business? Saying yes? Saying no? Saying I love you? Saying we’re through? Booking that trip? Making a commitment to yourself and keeping it? Speaking your truth? Trying and releasing outcomes? Risking failure? Opening to abundance and success? Standing for something? Putting your heart on the line? Testing your training? Spreading your wings? Trusting another person? Trusting yourself? Stepping onto a spiritual path? Admitting you want something? Finally feeling worthy enough to receive it? Embracing the freedom to change your mind? Really showing up? Really walking away? Accepting what you want to resist? Agreeing to adapt? Challenging old beliefs and rewriting your narrative from a new perspective? Overriding resentment and choosing love instead? Keeping your heart open when everything in you wants to close?

There is always this tipping point, the place where the fear or discomfort of doing something new or different is overtaken by the awareness that things cannot remain as they are. This is the sweet spot where contemplating change shifts into getting off our ass and actually doing something about it. I love this curious, courageous place and the warriors of change who are willing to lean into it.

What does it mean to you to go outside your comfort zone?

Our life is like the patient, loving parent, standing in the pool, arms outstretched, waiting for us to jump in. We can override our perceived need for the smallness of comfort and complacency, choosing to expand instead. We can do the thing we think cannot be done, instead of leaving it to someone else. We can try, instead of eternally waiting to feel ready. We can love beyond our fear and bigger than our loss. We can welcome the discomfort and make peace with the pain. We can learn to regard the unknown as a friend we haven’t met yet, instead of a malevolent stranger. We can overcome the very thing that we thought would destroy us, allowing it to transform us into more than we ever imagined ourselves to be.

The door is unlocked. Let’s go outside.


Read More From the Outdoors Issue | Summer 2021


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