4 Poems to Help You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
With January unfolding, many people are making more concrete steps to help them reach big-picture New Year’s resolutions and goals — including taking more risks, stepping out of their comfort zone, or trying new things. However you phrase it, this popular intention is easy to aspire toward and harder to achieve. It can be intimidating to stretch past who and where you’ve been and lean into who you are becoming. Let these four poems offer a little encouragement and solace on the journey.
Anne Sexton’s “Courage” celebrates the bravery we display throughout our lives. As you prepare to take on new heights, let this poem remind you that you’ve done it before, both physically and metaphorically — from your first steps or first time riding a bike to your first time overcoming criticism or heartbreak. As Sexton writes, “You powered your sorrow, / you gave it a back rub / and then you covered it with a blanket / and after it had slept a while / it woke to the wings of the roses / and was transformed.” Remembering the positive transformations that stepping out of your comfort zone has powered in the past will push you to do it again.
Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Go to the Limits of Your Longing” has been widely quoted since its 1905 publication, with its most famous lines reading: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. / Just keep going. No feeling is final.” These lines speak to the broader life experiences that stepping out of your comfort zone can provide, as well as the sense of momentum that arrives when you start embracing adventure in the day-to-day. The poem’s religious tone and imagery will encourage devout readers and can be interpreted in a different, equally meaningful way by non-religious poetry lovers — as a nod to the intangible, non-earthly qualities in all of us, which we cultivate further when we’re open and emboldened.
Perhaps one of the best motivations to step out of your comfort zone is the feeling that a trusted and beloved mentor, or member of your family or chosen family, is watching out for you and helping to propel the journey. That’s the feeling best-selling poet Amanda Lovelace conjures in her succinct and inspiring “Fairy Godmother Says.” Like the other poems in Lovelace’s You Are Your Own Fairy Tale trilogy, “Fairy Godmother Says” transforms the oftentimes outdated and disempowering language of fairy tales into fierce, feminist mythology for our times. It encourages women beyond their comfort zone and explores how this zone often reflects patriarchal pressures and assumptions. “You are limitless,” Lovelace writes. “You can have the lipstick. / You can have the sword.”
“Then” by Laura Foley reflects the idea that you can’t control the outside world, but you can harness it for self-growth and self-reflection. Foley also notes the importance of quieting down to truly listen to yourself, which can help you evaluate what goals you want to set and how you feel as you work toward them. “The healing bell inside yourself / will resound, in quietness, / with Yes / and Yes / and Yes,” she emphasizes.