Things I Learned Living Out Of My Comfort Zone

They say: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” I agree. I just got back from six weeks ‘living’ in Los Angeles and I saw the growth first hand.

I moved around quite a lot when I was younger. From Egypt to Switzerland to the UK, Egypt then back to London, I picked up and moved schools, made new friends, lived new lives every time. I hated it at the time, hated my parents for making me move, hated the teachers at each new school; hated it. But I’d be hard pressed to argue that the moves didn’t facilitate massively to my growth, despite making me the angsty, emo-teen I guess I was.

Sometimes, I can feel my bones creak under the weight of all the lives I want to live. My friends always joke that I transform, my belief that everything is temporary extending also to my own thought processes, my own behaviours, my own neatly defined life. From 1.0 to 12.0 or so I’ve come over the years, each new number bringing with it unutterable pride. Okay, so I’m no longer the girl who cries when she spends more than five minutes alone: now, I love my own company. Okay, so I’m no longer the girl who cuts prayers into her skin. Each new number brings with it new accomplishments, new “shit, I’m fucked up” that I get rid of.

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While on the flight back from Los Angeles, already raw with emotion and sadness to be leaving this place that had birthed a new version of myself that I loved,  I read Glennon Doyle Melton’s ‘Love Warrior’ (seriously, seriously recommend giving this a read ASAP!). I love words, I love the feeling they give you in your chest when the right words, in the right order, at the right time make you feel wholly understood. That’s how I felt when I came across the line: “So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.”

Melting into my seat before escaping to the plane bathroom I sobbed hot, salty tears. Fuck. Yes. The journey of the warrior. We are all on one. I can sit for 1.6 seconds where yesterday I couldn’t even sit for one. Thank you God. Fuck. Yes. There is a warrior in me, too.

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Indeed, finding myself in an unfamiliar environment, minus my big flock of friends, my jam-packed schedule, my routine, I guess you could say I kind of found myself, or a different version of myself, at least. I took a whole bunch of steps on the journey of the warrior. Maybe these sound obvious to you, but they weren’t obvious to me. I grew further into myself, and I learnt a few things while living out of my comfort zone, the most important of which?

You can be whoever the fuck you want, and you can do whatever the fuck you want, and there isn’t really any definition of that that matters other than what YOU personally are okay with.

How weird to think that I didn’t really know that. I think it takes time to become who you are. There’s so much adding and subtracting of belief systems, of personality traits. It fucking hurts, growing up, doesn’t it? I remember so clearly at times feeling like I was trying to shove a square into a circle. Haphazardly sawing and clawing and chomping off extra bits, in desperate attempts to fit.

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Not to say I don’t give any fucks about being accepted these days, I do. Just less. I think about my definition of happiness / success a lot. Borrowed from Gandhi, it’s “when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Yes. It’s hard to get there but I think a huge part of the battle is getting rid of all the stereotypes and expectations of what everyone else wants you to think, what everyone else wants you to say and do and feel and be and eat and love and wear and and and and and and and.

To refer back to ‘Love Warrior’, one of the earlier passages that really stuck with me was: “We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be. Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world. Every girl must decide whether to settle for adoration or fight for love.”

I’m not sure if it’s worsened by the fact that I’m Arab, originally. Indeed, despite the fact that my parents and family at large are suuuper liberal and would probably even flinch at being called Arab because “we are Egyptian not Arab!” (with allll the distinctions that brings), the expectations are still super prevalent, they still weigh down on me, and they still make me think “I wonder if they’ll think less of me” when I behave in a manner that may not be in accordance with those stereotypes.

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To say it’s been the bane of my existence may seem like an overstatement, but it actually kind of has. That belief system has forced me to be anxious and shy and awkward and insecure in situations that don’t warrant it. What’s more, that’s not even actually my personality. Just a buzzkill belief system that coloured my life. Post LA and the living outside of the comfort zone what do I know?  It doesn’t fucking matter.

At this point, I’m old enough and know myself well enough to know what behaviour / thoughts / and etc I’ll be okay with; to understand what code of conduct is okay in MY book, not in the world’s book. I trusted myself enough to do things I normally would never do, and not only did I not die, but it made me free. And really there’s nothing that feels better than that.

What do you guys think? Have you ever lived away from home? Let me know in the comments below! xxx 

  • Funmi
    Posted at 03:37h, 22 March Reply

    This is quite like me; I moved a lot growing up. School especially. I think my ability to adapt on those circumstances have made me the person I am today – adapting reasonably well to situations, being independent, wise and able to journey through life really.

    Comfort zones are just that – Comforting with no real substance. Great post!

    Funmi x

  • Alyssa
    Posted at 17:28h, 22 March Reply

    I moved a lot too when I was younger but to be honest, I still haven’t grow outside my comfort zone. I still live in my parents house but I’m planning on being a digital nomad, like most millennials right now.


  • Nataliya
    Posted at 20:41h, 22 March Reply

    Eyes open wider when there’s pain involved. A lot of people pass through life without actually discovering the scope of what it has to offer. The people who often feel insecure, anxious, “broken” or unstable are the ones that open themselves up enough to experience everything that’s amazing in life. If you don’t know that depths of despair exist, you can’t possibly have a scale of comparison for the pinnacles of elation.

    Style Tomes

  • Katherine
    Posted at 01:24h, 23 March Reply

    Loved reading this. Moving away from home for a while taught me so much and pushed me out of my comfort zone so much!
    Katherine recently posted…Late Night Thoughts–I’ve ChangedMy Profile

  • Mónica Sors - Mes Voyages à Paris
    Posted at 10:39h, 23 March Reply

    So beautiful places dear! Hope you enjoying!!
    Mónica Sors

    Posted at 13:07h, 23 March Reply

    Me encantaa! ❤️

  • Ashley
    Posted at 16:45h, 23 March Reply

    You are so brave, lady- I love how you are on this journey that takes you so far from home, but you keep finding (and reinventing) yourself along the way. Inspiring!

    Le Stylo Rouge
    Ashley recently posted…White Duster + Nude Booties.My Profile

  • Rina
    Posted at 19:51h, 23 March Reply

    Loving the message babe! You are so inspirational <3

    Rina Samantha
    Rina recently posted…How to Appear Taller than You AreMy Profile

  • Merel
    Posted at 23:14h, 23 March Reply

    Wow, you have experienced so much at a young age! Inspirational story, loved reading it! <3

    X Merel
    Merel recently posted…A vintage Chanel love story with RebelleMy Profile

  • Debbie
    Posted at 03:12h, 24 March Reply

    Such an amazing place, you must have a time there!!!!

  • Rasha Kaki
    Posted at 07:11h, 24 March Reply

    Have not seen you in ages but I follow you on instagram and so excited for your success. 8 read this article and it really resonated for me. The fact that you mentioned how moving around shaped you made me think of so many people (myself included) who grow up in cultures other than their own and that experience gives them a chameleon like ability to adapt because they have always been out of their comfort zone but on that other hand we frequently deal with the clash of our own morals and values and what he hold dear as opposed to the cultural ideas we are supposed to simultaneously absorb. But I think it’s the tension and struggle that really works for you and gives you this wonderfully open viewpoint. Great work Alya!

  • Immy May
    Posted at 12:49h, 24 March Reply

    I didn’t move about too much when I was younger, maybe that explains why I booked a one way ticket to New York when I was 20. I just picked up and left, all V dramatic haha. I had the most epic summer, full of crazy new experiences, bouts of anxiety and just the most incredible feeling that I was just doing whatever the F I want. I need some more of that kinda spontaneity in my life fo’sho. So glad ya had the best time gal 🙂 Immy x

  • Atsuna Matsui
    Posted at 03:32h, 25 March Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more on the theme of this post. It’s true that nothing ever grows from staying within your comfort zone. It’s when you’re pushing your boundaries and doing what you fear that really helps you grow.


  • yasmin
    Posted at 04:32h, 25 March Reply

    Can’t imagine what it would be like to move that much as a kid. But I do think it makes you a resilient person when you grow up – which seems exactly the case with you!

    xx Yasmin
    yasmin recently posted…Simple Spring Embroidered TopsMy Profile

  • Gail
    Posted at 15:09h, 25 March Reply

    Sounds like a good week for you babe!
    Gail recently posted…Love or Leave, Your ChoiceMy Profile

  • Anouk
    Posted at 16:13h, 25 March Reply

    I have lived away from home on a couple of occasions and these were great experiences!

    Anouk recently posted…DIOR | LUXEMBOURGMy Profile

  • Rena
    Posted at 19:43h, 25 March Reply

    Adorable pictures!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • Benita James
    Posted at 14:52h, 26 March Reply

    Wow! Can’ believe you moved quite a lot. I moved away from home but only to attend Uni and the experience is both sour and sweet. Moving out of my comfort zone did help me a lot.

    Bernie, xx
    The Style Fanatic

  • Dominique
    Posted at 18:47h, 26 March Reply

    Such a great post hun!I agree that moving is such a great way to push yourself out your comfort zone and learn new things about yourself xx
    Dominique recently posted…When to Buy High Street & When to Buy LuxuryMy Profile

  • Margot
    Posted at 20:30h, 26 March Reply

    I love your pictures and I all agree, we grow up more getting out of our comfort zone.

  • yuka
    Posted at 07:20h, 27 March Reply

    being out of your comfort zone is so hard to do! I admire you for it!

  • Dresscape
    Posted at 11:57h, 27 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring post! I have recently spent a semester abroad and it was the first time I lived on my own. It was kind of tricky at first, but then I got used to it. Stepping out of my comfort zone was incredibly enriching in the end.


    Claire from Dresscape

  • Natasha Todd
    Posted at 12:33h, 30 March Reply

    I love this post I can really relate to it! I also have moved around a couple of times throughout my life, just within the UK but still that lack of attachment to one area and not having a particularly rooted home base has meant I have always adapted quickly! I always enjoy chasing new adventures! Love your pictures! xx

  • Shanice
    Posted at 19:28h, 04 April Reply

    I really struggle to get out of my comfort zone, but I totally agree that it´s so important to do it! Lovely post, thanks for sharing 🙂
    Greetings from Germany

  • Rina
    Posted at 00:26h, 09 April Reply

    I’ve never lived in a far away city before but I do hope to sometime in my lifetime (hopefully sooner rather than later). Ireally feel that it would force me to grow outside of my comfort zone too. I do still have a lot of insecurities that I’m coping with but I believe I’m building my confidence more and more each day =)

    Rina Samantha
    Rina recently posted…Eco Fashion Week Part 2My Profile

  • Karen Shannon
    Posted at 08:47h, 13 April Reply

    You look great in every picture and your outfits are stunning!
    Stay in Style
    Karen @ Lookbook Store Blogspot

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