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Uncharted Territory

Encouragement for taking chances and stepping outside your comfort zone when it comes to dating/life in general.

I believe that deep down, people inherently enjoy becoming lost in things that are unfamiliar to them initially. There’s something exhilarating about it, like an adventure in which you collect the puzzle pieces as you go. But this isn’t the kind of puzzle/map that shows you what is missing. You won’t know it until you feel it, and you’ll sit back and take it in and keep it with you until everything starts to make sense.  Sometimes you won’t even know that there was something missing inside you, but once you find what it was, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.

Photo Credit: Tim Stief

There are certain songs we could listen to hundreds of times without getting bored. And a part of the brain will process these like they’re new each time which is incredibly amazing. But…what if we would have changed the channel or stopped only in the beginning? Aren’t you glad you took the time to hear it out?

I think anticipation has a lot to do with the way we approach things.

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When you are able to plan in advance for what you want, most people don’t consider the fact that it can be both a good thing or a bad. Good because you have direction and clarity on your goals. Bad because often expectations are too high which leads to discontent/disappointment. But having some sort of realistic expectations and an open mind can really alter your happiness for the best when it comes to approaching things that are new, whether scary or exciting.

Let’s pretend you’re planning a vacation to a place you’ve wanted to go to for years. From the websites, it looks great. There are pictures depicting what to expect along the way and you hope that when you arrive it’s equally beautiful in person.

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But what if it’s not what you wanted or expected it to be? Not so exciting anymore, is it? Kind of like when you’ve been seeing someone for a while and you can’t wait to get intimate and when you finally are, it wasn’t nearly as good as you thought it would be. So now what?

At that point, you can either choose to make the best of it or complain and continue to be disappointed/walk away because it wasn’t what you thought it was.

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I’ll give you another example.

You ever get lost when you’re driving and end up in an area that looks really rough? Where you think to yourself that you should lock your doors and keep the windows up? Looking around you know it’s probably dangerous to proceed, so your gut instinct is telling you to turn around… I’ve been in places like this before numerous times (unfortunately).

But you know what’s really cool? Is that sometimes after you make it through the rough parts and end up finding a diamond. I’ll give you a real life example… Michael Symon’s restaurant Lolita. I found that by accident and fell in love with it in the summer of 2005 when my car broke down in 90-degree heat heading to the Cleveland Zoo. I went inside to call/wait for a ride and was taken back when I saw beautiful brass ceilings, mosaic style tiles, and exceptional service. Literally, blocks up the road were boarded up houses and people dealing drugs in front of a gas station, where I was in fear of my life when my car started overheating at the off ramp. If I hadn’t gone through the bad, I wouldn’t have found the good. And honestly, in spite of all the things that could have gone wrong, I wasn’t attacked, raped, kidnapped… I was fine. I was safer than I thought. And the next time I went through that area, I knew what to expect and it wasn’t as scary anymore. I knew how to prepare myself for the worst, and generally the worst case scenario never truly happens in the end anyway.

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While people are often are afraid to get lost or venture into uncharted territories that are off the map or unfamiliar to them, it’s essential that we learn to retrain our thought processes so that we can be happy.

I am a firm believer that you choose your own path and happiness by the choices you make. And of those choices, there are often risks involved. You might not like what you experience, or it might be the best experience you’ve ever had. But guess what? You’ll never know if you refuse to go out of your comfort zone. And furthermore, a lot of it just requires you wanting it to become something and believing it will be that.

Ever had a completely chaotic day at work and you chose to smile and laugh, joking about it and shrugging it off, addressing it differently? How’d that day end up when you did that? What would have happened if you addressed it with stress and apprehension instead? You’d have ended up having a bad day instead of a decent one. Why? Because your mind controls your outcomes more than what you realize.

So I’m encouraging you to try something that’s outside of your comfort zone. Choose to get lost and choose to make the best of it, because you will often find yourself when you do and sometimes you’ll find even more than that. Sometimes you’ll find other people for more than what you had hoped them to be. And sometimes…You might even find love. And with that being said, if you take the courage to try, I hope you find more than what you’re looking for. And I hope that you enjoy the journey that allows you to finally put the pieces together in a way you never imagined to be real.

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And just because you feel afraid doesn’t mean there’s something legitimate to be afraid of. It’s often all just in your head, a fear of the unknown. As soon as you start facing the unknown head on and going through the what-ifs and worst-case scenarios, if/when they do happen, you’ll be prepared to tackle them head on. And that makes you strong. That makes you a warrior. But it also makes you smart to be prepared. Just don’t let your fears take over your potential for happiness.

The goal is not to find perfection, it’s to find something real…and meaningful, and moving. If you move forward with your eyes closed, you’ll miss a lot of really wonderful experiences along the way. And at the end when you’re finally ready to open them, it won’t make nearly as much sense or you won’t appreciate it like you should because those truly important pieces are often still missing.

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