Out of My Comfort Zone

There’s a lot of advice in retirement transition to push out of your comfort zone in order to continue to grow. Well, I did a big push last weekend. (And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve not blogged in awhile.)

In my retirement lifestyle vision, I see myself riding a retro scooter down the beach boulevard, carefree and happy. Of course, that vision also has me with my hair blowing in the wind without a helmet, which I’d never do. I wear a helmet on a bicycle doing 12-15 mph on that road; I’m certainly going to wear one doing 20-30 mph! But the vision is there, and hubby is buying me a scooter for my birthday.

Second reality check beyond the helmet: I need the skills to drive a scooter and a license. I’ve never even driven a dirt bike as a kid. A scooter license is the same as a motorcycle license, so the need actually became skills to drive a full size motorcycle, shifting gears and all. And so, motorcycle driving class last weekend….and a BIG out of comfort zone experience.

I was the oldest attendee in my class. Not the oldest ever, but close. I was also the shortest. Lack of height is a challenge on a full size motorcycle where you need to straddle and reach the ground. It’s not an issue with a scooter, but you need the motorcycle license!

And, to top off the out of comfort zone challenge, I was the only person in the class with no motorcycle driving experience. None. The younger folks all had dirt-biking experience. The older folks had been riding for years on permits (or without a license at all) and the class was the easiest, fastest route to licensing. Luckily, all the participants were extremely supportive of my extreme novice status.

So what emotions were running though this experience?

Doubt = I kept telling myself I could do it. The other folks in the class kept telling me I could do it. Even the instructors kept telling me I could do it. It’s hard to stop that voice in the head that continues to raise doubt!

Fear of failure = In this case, failure can have a really bad output. You tell yourself to do a skill, then the body freezes and it does not respond to your mind. Things like speeding up on a curve and leaning the motorcycle over, or accelerating to stop short on command without locking up or skidding. Are you crazy – I can kill myself here! And yes, I did put the motorcycle down. That’s a nice way to say I crashed it. I was fine. As the instructor said, my pride was hurt more than my body. Even if the body was shaking like a leaf in a high wind.  And I did get back on and complete the training exercise. But getting your mind to overcome fear is so challenging!

Frustration in skill development = This was the hardest element. Creating new muscle memory takes repetition. And in the case of driving a motorcycle, the fear of injury when you do not have that muscle memory makes it both scary and frustrating.

In the class (which included 14 hours of actual driving), there were tears. And exhaustion. And doubt if I would ever buy a scooter; doubt I would ever develop enough skill to not feel like I was going to die any minute. The instructor kept saying this was supposed to be fun!  I’m not one to equate fear and fun. 

I passed the skill assessment…and received a surprising round of applause from my classmates! But even the feeling of accomplishment of successfully completing the class has not removed the fear of not having skills going forward.

We have not purchased my scooter yet, although I have picked it out. I’m working on building up courage for the continued skill development.

 

Unfortunately, this out of comfort zone experience did not make me eager to try another! Do your out of comfort zone experiences make you eager for more?

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40 thoughts on “Out of My Comfort Zone

  1. SO PROUD OF YOU!! What an inspiring, encouraging read. Found myself holding my breath until I knew you had stayed with the course and passed the test. Cannot wait to see your scooter and you on it! Does it look like the one in the graphic?

    I didn’t realize that one needs a license to drive a scooter. In an attempt to encourage more visitors (local and otherwise) to our downtown, scooters and bicycles are available to rent or use. I assume rent but I don’t know for sure. Maybe the scooters are not motorized. I am wondering now if they are.

    Thank you for linking up with me. I am so sorry to have been delinquent in getting by your blog. Hope you will come back to join me the end of this month with something equally inspirational you have accomplished.

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  2. Brave you! Oh, my gosh, riding a motorcycle is definitely not on my bucket list. But this past September, I pushed myself beyond my usual safe limits and did the 84-mile hike on the Hadrian’s Wall path in England. It was 12 glorious days of hiking and I was so proud that I accomplished it. And I will be doing more long hikes again!

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    1. Not sure it was bravery. I told enough people I would do it that I felt I couldn’t back out. Is that really bravery or fear of looking like a failure? And you know I hate to look like a failure. 12 days of hiking is another one that is outside the comfort zone for me…. but it sounds like a wonderful idea! Years ago I was an avid hiker….could do 8-10 miles a day up and down a mountain, as long as there was a hot shower and soft bed (and a glass of wine) each night. I’m really not sure I could do it anymore. However, I have said I wanted to do a walking tour of Ireland someday…so perhaps I need to start building back up my legs!

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  3. While I don’t consider myself a daredevil, I have spent my adult life way outside my comfort zone, but motorcycles??? No Way!! Not even to get a license to ride a scooter. Two weeks ago a dear friend was killed on a motorcycle, sitting at a stop light, waiting for the light to turn green. The driver of a car hit and killed him. Don’t know if he didn’t see my friend or was on his cellphone, but they scare me… to death! Be safe… Brenda #MLSTL

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    1. Brenda, You’ve highlighted the fear I feel. I know it’s both my own skill and then the fact others are clueless on the roads…and on a motorcycle or scooter or bicycle, you have very little protection. Even in the class, they talked about watching beyond you at a stop light and being ready to “escape”. In fact, a lot of the class was about “escape routes” so yeah, the fear is real. I do wear full gear …and don’t plan on being on any major roads. But still, you cannot control other drivers!

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    1. Thanks Christina. I would never have said about myself that I have a well-developed sense of adventure! It’s always interesting when others see you differently than you see yourself.

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  4. Hi Pat! Good for you for challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. And good for you for passing. I actually did the same thing back when I turned 50. My husband had been riding for years and I never had. I knew I wasn’t that interested in a motorcycle…but scooters have come a very long way since then. I took the class, passed and then bought me a bright yellow scooter I named Sunny. For about 3 months I had an absolute blast. I rode up and down the local mountain twisties, took several couple of hour trips with Thom and loved almost every minute. I did have good gear–thank goodness because I became one of those statistics they tell you about in class. Most accidents happen in the first year. I only made it to about 3-4 months. What I would advice is that you keep practicing. I KNEW what I was supposed to do but when I was put in a very uncomfortable position I froze and that is not a good thing. Keep practicing. And oh yeah, wear the right gear. After that my husband sold Sunny and ended up stopping riding himself. I still remember that exhilaration but I also have a healthy respect for what can happen. Have fun! ~Kathy

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    1. Kathy – Yup, that’s the fear. I do have good gear. And mine will be baby blue… planning to call her BeBe. Hopefully I will not use your experience as a role model this time. 🙂 Planning to practice this weekend.

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  5. So cool! The whole experience sounds exhilarating! Thirty plus years ago I dated a man who owned a double-rider motorcycle. Though I didn’t learn how to ride one (I’m chicken), I loved the experience of being a passenger riding through the Adirondack Mountains. It was out of my comfort zone and I’ll never forget it.
    Have fun!! Sharing for #MLSTL on FB and Twitter.
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/2018/10/26/me-in-the-middle-of-being-a-single-mom-2/

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    1. Thanks Natalie. Serendipity happens… a friend has lent me her scooter for a few weeks to try it out. A similar model to the one I’m thinking of buying. And, as she pointed out, it already has dings on it, so less worried about things. I’m hoping to go out this weekend…on streets!

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    1. Debbie – My classmates were amazing. Two young people (20 and 25 years old) were my buddies in the class; along side me for every drill. The other “oldster” (55 and a very experienced rider) gave me huge hug when I passed the skills assessment. I think that’s what really helped me get through the class. I’m not sure why it was so surprising, but their kindness really helped. Made me think about how I can be kind to others (not judgmental) as they try new things.

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  6. Pat – I have the same mental picture in my head of me on a scooter with my scarf and hair blowing in the breeze. The helmet and the fact I don’t wear scarves probably kills the look (along with the fact that my hair looks a wreck when I take off a motorbike helmet). I also hate being stuck behind little buzz box scooters who can’t do the speed limit because of their engine size. I might just stick with being a passenger on my husband’s big bike for now – but those dreams still float around (I even have a few pinned on my “free to be me” Pinterest board!
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

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    1. Leanne – Isn’t it weird how our mental image about this really does not match any sense of reality? And yes, I will be the person on that scooter going slow…but I’m only planning on being on the low speed roads! (Please remember that next time you’re behind one….it could be me. LOL) Hmm, a free to be me Pinterest board? I’ve been exploring the concept of freedom (blog post to come); can you share your board with me? I’d be curious what freedom means to you!

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  7. Well done you, Pat! My husband has been talking about a scooter if we reduce from a two car family to one. Isn’t it amazing that others have more faith in us that we do in ourselves. I remember when the young girls I worked with booked me into Bootcamp and started me running. they wouldn’t accept that I was too old and because of their faith in me I eventually ran a marathon. As far as comfort zones go, it seems that everyone is focusing on this at the moment. Whilst I agree that we need to step out and try something new occasionally perhaps we are putting too much emphasis on this instead of just enjoying life. Can’t wait to see a photo of you scooting along! Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great week. xx

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    1. Sue, When I read Molly T’s blog this week on Comfort Zone, I realized there was a lot more than the big push of something like a motorcycle class. Even taking a blogging break could be considered going outside the comfort zone! I do think however, my next “push” is going to be more about simple pleasures. The adrenaline rush of learning motorcycle driving can be put to the side for a bit!

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      1. Oh yes, I was completely out of my comfort zone when I didn’t blog or use social media during my recent holiday to Japan. It was scary but also liberating and I suppose that sums up the feelings when we do step out. Oh simple pleasures are definitely on my list too. I’ve had a complete change of mindset and I’m feeling so much better about it all. xx

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    1. Marty, The scooter I’m looking at is the smallest one…125 cc motor. I’m more worried about turns and wiping out. I’ve done that on a bicycle and it hurts! I’m sure I’ll be the slow person that folks will hate being behind on the road for awhile. Don’t honk next time you’re behind a slow moving scooter … it might be me!

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  8. Congratulations Pat! Wow, that would be way out of my comfort zone too. I don’t think I could do it, although the idea of zipping around on a scooter is very appealing. I wonder what the “rules” are in Canada – I’ve thought of getting an e-bike at some point in the distant future, but to have to earn a motorcycle license… I don’t think I could do that. Job well done!

    Deb

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    1. Thanks Deb. My friend got an e-bike because it did not need a driving license. I just had this scooter vision. And the motorcycle part was a huge deterrent…it took me months to get the courage to even book the class. I’m thinking now that I need that picture of me with the scooter to encourage me even more to work on skills development!

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  9. I had a lot of dirt bike experience as a teenager, but never got a license. I have had an occasional urge to get a motorcycle as an adult, but the withering glare of my significant other quelled that desire.

    I do things that are outside my comfort zone, but maybe not that far outside. Most of my experiences have been reasonably positive. I can’t think of a case where I went through the angst that you experienced. I guess I just haven’t had a desire to undertake anything that far afield (yet).

    You have actually gone beyond the scooter by taking the motorcycle skills test, so the scooter will be simple for you. Good luck!

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    1. Bob, thanks for the insight about going beyond with the motorcycle skills test. Not quite simple, but not nearly as complicated.

      This is the first time I’ve gone this far out of my comfort zone in a space where I could truly get hurt. I think that was the difference. Zip-lining was the most similar, but even then, the danger was not as much. All the other stuff out of comfort zone, not really significant bodily harm potential. Makes stand-up paddle-boarding or learning to swim seem like a piece of cake now!

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    1. Donna, LOL. The birthday was 2 months ago…I’ve had the “check” and picture that long. I told hubby I would’t buy it until I had the skills to ride it. He researched them and test drove them for me, so I know which one I’m getting. It’s a matter of me going in and putting the check on the table. Yeah…that’s it and working up the courage for that!

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  10. First of all – wow. I’m not sure I would have the courage to get a motorcycle license. Yes, I would love to have a scooter, but in my opinion, that would be a death wish in Toronto.

    Kudos to you for seeing it through to the end. I’ve long had a mantra of ‘feel the fear. Do it anyway.’ As you say, the skills will strengthen with practice. Have fun with your new scooter … hope you get it soon 🙂

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    1. Joanne, Understand about riding in a city. In Cincinnati, I’m going to stay on the side streets mostly. Florida is different…the highest speed limit on the island we are on is 35 mph, and lots of it is 15-20mph. And there are lots of scooters and beach bikes too. I’ve never been one to “feel the fear and do it anyway”; this was my first experience with that and I’m not sure I liked it. But it’s folks like you who have that mantra was what gave me the inspiration to do this. And maybe I’ll be able to do something similar again, knowing I did it.

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  11. I’m so glad you posted this before I went on my blogging break! Congratulations for going so far out of your comfort zone. It seems odd that they wouldn’t have a separate scooter license but I guess they have their reasons. I look forward to seeing that picture of you riding your scooter down the beach boulevard… in a helmet, of course.

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