Get Outside Your Comfort Zone to Grow
“Times of stress are also times that are signals for growth. If we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.”
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski explains here how lobsters grow out of their shells.
They go through the molting and shedding process several times in their life, since they have a soft, growing body inside of a hard, rigid shell. As they outgrow their shell, they need to shed it. It is no longer functional.
My director’s husband shared this insightful information with the company at a recent get-together. Lobsters leave behind what no longer serves them, but the process is not always one of pleasure. They are adapting to stress in their environment. They show us that it is instinctive to shed and leave something behind in order to open up space for something new.
Saying goodbye to the familiar and emerging as a naked lobster sounds kind of terrifying, kind of liberating, and most of all, absolutely necessary!
Why do we want to cling to things that aren’t beneficial to us?
Perhaps, this is because they act as a source of known protection - predictable and reliable.
We tend to like that. However, if we stay, we’ll never grow.
It has been said that an actor’s greatest strength is their vulnerability. This statement is applicable across all visual art forms, I believe. A dancer needs to be willing to share their authentic self physically. A singer must trust their instrument, as well, & truly sense the feelings of the song they are singing. This is how we effectively communicate and relate to one another.
If we are vulnerable and willing to share a part of ourselves with others, then we create a bridge for connection. We invite people to witness the experience on a visceral level, since it is honest and part of the human experience. We all have emotions and fears and feelings. It is commendable when a performer can really put their heart on the line and be real…even spontaneous within a given structure.
I have been working on this through singing and acting. I am a dancer first, but I understand that I have more to share. We all have many gifts and talents. It is rewarding and important to exercise them all. However, in comparison, I haven’t sung as many scales in my life as I have done tendus or degajés in ballet class. There is catch-up & play-time to be had!
It takes time, patience, and a willingness to experience the “not so perfect moments” that come along with cross-training in other disciplines. Even though singing and acting have many parallels to dancing, there are also many new avenues on the path. It is exciting and scary to be so exposed and channel my expression through other mediums.
Nonetheless, I am embracing the challenge. I view the moments of discomfort as indicators that I am growing and moving into personally uncharted territory. As long as I continue to trust the journey and respect the process, I will be just fine. It also helps to remember that I am safe and in a supportive environment. We can be our own biggest critics, but that rarely serves us well.
Even though immediate gratification and instantaneous results sounds appealing, most great things take time. I am re-establishing my commitment to myself by continuing to practice and put aside judgment. Patience is a virtue for a reason. It takes time to see major progress, and that is normal. We can put in the daily work and find joy in that process, in the meantime. Eventually, we may be fortunate to see the fruits of our labor.
No matter, I try to do the work because I enjoy it, not just for the rewards. Those will come. Trust it, & don’t fear change.
Putting myself in new environments and simply showing up has been refreshing. It is good to take a new path to the subway or take a different class. It feels off at first, not sticking to my known routines and patterns of training, which has gotten me to where I am today. Familiarity offers a sense of stability. However, we could all benefit from broadening our skill-sets. For instance, I started this blog this year. Life is more interesting when we add some new spices! You don’t know unless you venture out.
Be like the lobster, & embrace the changes that come in nature!