Breaking out of your shell

The term “stranger danger” , often used when referring to young babies who shy away from

strangers stuck with me until my early teens. I was such a shy child, so much so that in

church, I would always excuse myself from the pew and pretend to go to the washroom because I did not want to shake people's hands during the “sign of peace”. I hated being the center of attention, hated public speaking, would always sink into my chair or look the other way when my teacher would ask questions. I recall being in grade 6 and feeling sick to my stomach because one of the assignments in my music class was to perform a song in front of the classroom. For weeks leading up to my performance I tried scheming up different ways to get out of my performance, but as shy as I was, I was equally afraid of my parents retaliation if they found out that I skipped school or faked an illness. I had no choice; I performed Madonna’s Material Girl and am still healing from the traumatic experience.

Even as a young adult, I was shy, not to the extreme of running away from shaking people’s hands, but enough that I felt very uncomfortable going to social gatherings where I did not know anyone or having to do presentations in front of colleagues at work. Although I had come a long way from where I was as a child, I knew in my late-twenties that I had to do something to break out of my shell. Kudos's to my husband who would force me into situations that were uncomfortable, forcing me to chip away at my insecurities, shyness and uncomfortableness with certain situations. I slowing started to realize that the only way to overcome certain barriers and to let myself truly flourish was to just dive in. It was in my early 30’s that I finally, after years of contemplation decided to register for my Fitness Instructor’s Specialist course. I remember almost shaking as I typed the final numbers of my credit card on line and hit the register button. It was done – I had registered, I had forced myself to take the first step in what I knew was going to be a very uncomfortable few months ahead – but at the same time I knew this was the only way I would ever become an Instructor; I had to take the plunge and make my dream a reality.

Fast forward, 7 years – I am an instructor, teaching one of the most popular group fitness classes in the world, Les Mills BODYPUMP, but more importantly, I am much stronger, mentally and physically than even in my dreams. Now, I thrive on being on stage – I get a thrill out of teaching and leading. Becoming an instructor for me not only fulfilled a dream, it opened the door to a world that I don’t think I would have been part of if I hadn’t taken the plunge. It allowed me the “courage” for lack of a better word, to try new things, to meet new people and most importantly to get to know someone inside of me that was hiding for so many years.

Breaking out of your own shell is not an easy task, but the good news is that it’s something that can be done. Like anything in life, if you don’t train or practice, you’ll never become better. Hoping that things will change will never drive results, actions will drive results. Change comes when we force ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Whether you do it by taking small steps or diving right in, force yourself to do it, the results will not disappoint.

Lina


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