STEPPING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE

August 2, 2018

I look at my life; and I realize I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone so many times.

 

I’ve always been one to take calculated risks.  I worked as a secretary, then went back to school to get my B.B.A, then my M.B.A.

 

I’ve traveled extensively, usually by myself.  I tried to include others; but found that if I waited for people to decide if they wanted to join me, I never would have gone anywhere.

 

My comfort zone was the corporate world.  I spent 22 years as a marketing executive in the beauty industry.  I might have stayed, if all the long hours and stress hadn’t caught up with me. What seemed like a heart attack, thankfully only a panic attack, landed me in the emergency room. Then, I’M OUTTA HERE!

 

Following the twists and turns, I embarked on going after my childhood dream as an actress. Not only was I venturing outside my comfort zone, I thought I must be crazy, at the same time.

 

I had to put one foot in front of the other and learn a new industry, a new career, or should I say craft, and figure it out as I went.

 

I booked a role on Law & Order in New York City and soon after that decided to sell my house, leave family and friends and move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream.

 

 

Talk about a leap of faith!

 

And, now, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone with this article.

 

I’ve always been a very private person.  I’ve been more vulnerable than I’ve ever been in writing my articles; but this time I’m really stepping outside my comfort zone.

 

GETTING PERSONAL

 

While pursuing my dream as an actress, I’ve explored other areas.

 

I dipped my toe in the water and took a stab at standup comedy.  For me, it was such a painful process to come up with the jokes for my five-minute standup routine.

 

It finally came together; and I did my routine at the Hollywood Improv. I was so nervous. I found it necessary to shore up courage to get past the nerves.

 

 

 

It went well; but I couldn’t wait to get off the stage.

 

That experience caused me to realize I’ve always been a story teller; but I needed to take a different approach.

 

I took a writing class.  The approach suited me so well.  As an actor, I tell stories.  The premise was to act out my story and then write it down.

 

The stories started pouring out of me; and the idea for my one-woman show, It’s Only Lipstick, was born.

 

It was an arduous process.  Stories rose to the top and then got filed away. 

 

After eight years, I was introduced to the award-winning solo artist and director, Jessica Lynn Johnson of Soaring Solo. 

 

 

 

I started taking her free solo show class at the Whitefire Theatre.  Something just started to bubble up inside of me.

 

She often says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” I have heard this before; but this time, it clicked. I was ready.

 

Things started to gel.  Lo and Behold! I discovered I can write.

 

In June 2016, I premiered a 15-minute version of my show in a showcase. 

 

I was so out of my comfort zone.  Being on stage in front of a live audience was a new experience for me.  What if I freeze and forget my lines?  What if they don’t laugh?  What if?  What if?  What if?

 

To sum it up there were no what ifs?  I LOVED IT!

 

I decided to go full out; and, with Jessica’s coaching, developed the full show.

 

I was entrenched in rehearsals.  Then, life has a way of throwing curve balls.

 

 

On January 17, 2017, I went into the hospital for a biopsy.  A few days later, I received a call from the doctor’s office to come in that day.  GULP!  This can’t be good.

 

I was brought into the examining room and waited for the doctor.  There was a knock on the door; and she entered.  Two weeks before my show, she broke the news to me. 

 

 

My head was spinning, as I was trying to process what she just said.

 

Somewhere in that fog, I heard her say, “If you’re going to get cancer, this is the one to get.  The surgery will take care of everything.  You won’t need chemo or radiation.”

 

Fortunately, I paid attention to the signs.  The endometrial cancer was stage 1 and caught early.

 

My emotions were raw; and the surgery would be sometime in March.

 

Somehow, I needed to focus on my show which was premiering on February 10th. 

 

I needed to dig deep not only in myself but, also, in my faith to trust God and draw upon His strength to get me through a very difficult time.

 

During those two weeks, I had an epiphany.  I was working so hard to produce my show and it was stressful; but it didn’t compare to dealing with cancer.  I decided that, even though it felt like I was on a roller coaster going 100 miles an hour, I was going to enjoy performing my show and telling my story.

 

 

I HAD A BLAST!

 

My show was sold out; and I enjoyed every minute of it; and so did the audience. 

 

I learned something amazing that night.  I love being on stage.  The energy from the audience fed me that night.   It was better than I could have expected.

 

Now, that the show was behind me, I needed to deal with the curve ball.

 

Except for key people in my life, I kept everything about the cancer and the upcoming surgery to myself.  I just couldn’t bring myself to share what I was going through.  Hence being out of my comfort zone sharing it in such detail now.

 

On March 8th, I had the surgery.  It went well; and I was told that the surrounding tissues were clean.

 

I had a positive outlook; and I just knew I was fine.

 

During the recovery period, I decided I was going to do a run of my show.  I took a deep breadth and signed the contract with the theater for a seven-week run.

I was signing on for a major financial and time commitment.

 

This was new territory for me and way outside my comfort zone.  I needed to do all the marketing and promotion to support a show run. 

 

It was unnerving and frightening.  It was worth it!

 

I met such wonderful people attending my show each night; and I got amazing reviews for my show and performance.

 

The icing on the cake is that I’m cancer free for a year and half now.  I’m beyond grateful.

 

GROWING OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE

 

Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is not easy; but if I’ve learned anything, I can’t grow if I don’t take a risk to go into that frightening, uncomfortable place.

 

 

Taking that step to pursue my dream of acting has been the catalyst for me to make discoveries.

 

I’ve discovered my true joy as an actress.

 

I’ve discovered my voice as a writer with the goal of encouraging and inspiring others.

 

I’ve discovered my new level of faith to believe in and trust God.

 

I’ve discovered that I won’t crash and burn if I allow myself to be truly vulnerable.

 

Lastly, I’ve discovered…it’s never too late to go after your dreams!

 

 

 

                                                             Claudia DiMartino

 

 

                                                            

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Claudia DiMartino is a successful business woman turned actress and playwright. She took a risk and left corporate America.  She now shares her life's journey which helped her realize - it's never too late to go after your dreams.

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