Once upon a time there was a little girl who was afraid, especially of new things. She wore the same clothes, ate the same foods, listened to the same music, worked the same job, and socialized with the same friends every single day. She only took vacations to the same beach town during the same week every summer so she would not have to go someplace new. She didn’t like the beach very much. She was not a fan of the heat and the sand. Sometimes when she was packing for vacation she would think about going to the mountains instead, enjoying cool crisp mornings, the sound of water rushing over rocks, the chirp of a bird. She thought about going to the mountains in autumn and experiencing the vibrant colors of the trees. Then she would sigh and return to packing her shorts and swimsuit for the beach vacation that didn’t fulfill her. She wouldn’t go to the mountains this year because she was afraid.
She always did the same things, the same way, never stepping outside her comfort zone. During Christmas season, she went to the same parties each year and went to the same stores to purchase gifts. It was during one of these Christmas shopping trips that fate stepped in with the opportunity to change her life. She was at the large department store that she went to every year to prepare for Christmas, checking her list, picking up gifts, went to the same register to pay for her purchases that she used every year and it was closed. The closed register perturbed her a bit, since it was a change from her normal Christmas routine, but she sighed and went to another register. The cashier smiled, said hello, and scanned her items one by one. The girl waited patiently for her total, but was startled when the cashier shouted, “CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU WON!!!”
The little girl who was afraid trembled slightly and thought, “maybe I won some money, that would be nice.” The store manager came running up to her and shouted, “YOU WON! YOU WON! YOU ARE THE LUCKY LADY WHO WILL GO ON A TWO WEEK SWISS SKIING ADVENTURE!! CONGRATULATIONS!” She smiled politely, but did not plan to go on this trip since it was a new thing. Over the next few weeks her friends and family told her how excited they were for her to go on this grand, new adventure and she started to wonder what it would be like, to fly to a foreign land, go skiing for the first time and she decided to go. She made a list of everything to do to prepare – passport, clothes shopping, and a million other details. Each day she crossed a couple items off the list. She stayed awake at night, unable to sleep, terrified of this trip that was pushing her completely outside her comfort zone. The day to start her journey came, her family and friends drove her to the airport, waved to her as she boarded the plane, and she was off on her new adventure. She arrived at the ski resort and took ski lessons. She fell down a few times while she was learning, but got back up and started again. Her instructors remarked that she was learning quickly and seemed to have a natural talent for skiing. They encouraged her to try a slope. She would just smile and tremble a little bit. The last day of her vacation her instructors told her, “It’s now or never to try that ski slope.” With their encouragement, she rode the lift to the top, looked down the mountain, smiled from ear-to-ear, and took off. She wore that smile the rest of the day and may have even slept smiling. She was still smiling when she boarded the plane to fly home and she was smiling when she landed. Her family and friends did not see the little girl who was afraid when she stepped off that plane. Instead they saw a lady who smiles.
After her return, she started trying new things, continued doing the new activities she liked, eating the new foods she liked, and simply walked away from the things she didn’t like. One of her friends remarked on her new ability to step outside her comfort zone. She smiled, realized her fear was still there, but wasn’t as large and remarked, “You can’t do what you’ve always done and get what you’ve never had.”