From Island Girl to City Girl: The Art of Going Outside My Comfort Zone

The night before I left Santa Barbara to return to Spain coincided with the “Blood Moon,” or a supermoon lunar eclipse. This means that the full moon occurs at or near its closest distance to earth (making it appear “supersized”) while crossing into Earth’s shadow, making it turn a blood-red hue (hence “Blood Moon”). The event is rare, considering the last one happened before I was even born in 1982 and the next one won’t happen until 2033. Krista, Ari, and I thought it was worth a look, and while Ari suggested going for a night kayak or sail since it was still warm at night, with the madness of last-minute packing, we ended up settling on walking to the beach and plopping down in the sand instead. 

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We sat there for an hour or so, gazing at the sky, talking about life and changes, of shifts in direction in the upcoming months. We talked about ideas that we couldn't wrap our heads around, like the concept of infinity and just what exactly might exist beyond the space of the universe or whether it just goes on forever and ever. We talked how thinking about that made us feel both big and small at the same time. And for part of it we just sat there in silence, that kind of comfortable void you have with friends who are really more like family. 

Needless to say, it was the perfect end to an all-too-short trip back home, an apt end to one chapter before the next one began. It seemed so fitting to me, sitting on the beach watching this rare Blood Moon with some of my best friends, a symbolic moment of change, of shifting in tides and energy, the ending of one moon phase and into the start of another. 

I remember at one point one of the girls mentioning how the next time this would happen, we would be in our 40s. And we all sat there for a moment letting the fact soak in. Thinking about how much would change in all those years, how much we would see and experience and grow and learn.

And while my 40s are a long way off, here I am embarking on yet another adventure, the next phase in a long line of future “moons.” From Mallorca to Santa Barbara and then back out to Madrid. I’m happy to say that the apartment saga has officially ended, and with it, I’m getting more time to write again. To get the chance to sit down and begin to dissect and digest all of this changing and shifting energy. To begin to peel away the clutter of figuring out a new place and to absorb all it has to offer. 

Since coming to Madrid, I’ve moved into a cute apartment in Argüelles and am living with three lovely Spanish girls. I’m slowly getting into the rhythm of speaking only Spanish at home and to finding my way around my neighborhood. The apartment itself is sandwiched between a yoga studio on one side (Reiki sessions, massages, and Pilates classes included) and a physical therapy office on the other. Just a street or two away, you’ll find a handful of other yoga/Pilates studios. A vegetarian restaurant, another restaurant that offers all-organic items, and a bookstore are all within a one block radius of my house. Just a block away is also Oeste Park which just so happens to be a great place to picnic and watch the sunset in Madrid and where you can reach Casa de Campo, an area of land offering miles of trails to run in the heart of Madrid. The Royal Palace and gardens are just a few blocks away. 

Royal Palace  

Royal Palace  

Sounds like it was meant to be, right? But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t so sure about Madrid from the start. Anyone who knows me well would say that moving to a huge city like Madrid, landlocked for miles, the mountains and the sea hours away, isn’t very “me.” For a long time, I went back and forth on whether I should live in Madrid. The constant traffic and go-go-go energy of a big city stresses me out.  I like having my local coffee shop and health food store and running trails in the mountains. Could I live for a year without the sea nearby? Could I go from slow-paced island time in a small town to a bustling city that never stops? After a year of focusing on slowing down, taking my time, acquiring the “poco a poco” mentality, could I go back to a constant fast-paced, million-miles-an-hour energy?

I won’t pretend for a second that I don’t miss California. Or Mallorca. I do. But the thing is, these are the places where I feel the most comfortable. Where the ocean and the mountains are a ten-minute drive away, where I know the local trails to run and hike, and where adventure is hiding in practically every corner. And while my heart told me to go to a place where I felt the most at ease, the most “me,” something in me told me to steer away from the easy option. 

Every once in a while, I think it’s beneficial to throw ourselves into something that is so out-of-the-ordinary for us. To push ourselves, to do something that scares us (obviously within reason). Because the thing is, it’s always at the edge of our comfort zone that we begin to define, to mold ourselves into who we are. How would we ever grow if we stuck with what we were comfortable with? 

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At the end of the day, growing isn’t about sticking with the familiar. It’s about finding yourself in an unfamiliar place, learning, and accepting your path as an opportunity to grow. And yes, it’s scary. Terrifying even. But sticking to where we feel the most comfortable is just a different form of a shield. Of protecting ourselves from feeling embarrassed, silly, or a like a failure. But the reality is that often our fear comes from placing something—an idea, a person, a goal—on a high pedestal as this unattainable thing we aren’t good enough for. But more often than not you will surprise yourself. And you might find that it’s not so scary after all, that you are smarter, stronger, and more adaptable than you gave yourself credit for. So whether it’s starting your own business or doing your first triathlon or moving halfway across the world, getting outside your comfort zone gives you the chance to explore the undiscovered pieces of yourself, and to see what else is out there in this big wide world of ours. 

And maybe somewhere along the line, we’ll surprise ourselves. We’ll find that maybe what we were scared of this whole time was what we were missing all along. And maybe not. But in the process, we will hopefully learn to accept ourselves, our idiosyncrasies and flaws, and maybe we’ll learn to find a certain kind of satisfaction in the uncertainty of it all. And whether for better or for worse, in the process of branching out, we are moving, growing, understanding what we like and don’t like, what makes us tick and what makes us into better versions of ourselves. We begin to whittle down the shape of “us” that exists beneath all of the layers of who we think we should be or want to be.

So here's to new places, new adventures, new people and friends. A shifting of moons. Here’s to moving away from the comfortable and seeking more of the unfamiliar to find those little hidden gems in ourselves that we can only discover by getting outside of our comfort zone.