A house of cards. 

If you look up the definition, the first thing that appears on Google is that the phrase is used to refer to  an insubstantial or insecure situation or scheme. Unstable. Uncertain. I don’t know what kind of a world everybody grew up in, but in mine - these were all words used on a negative note. Words that can make one feel uncomfortable, maybe a little bit afraid. Words that hold the power to prevent you from reaching your full potential.  

Not long ago, I felt as if I am living in a house of cards. I felt like the smallest inconvenience has the power to bring me down. But if your head is always in the clouds, like mine, turbulence is to be expected.  

This is a story about discomfort, or should I simply say “life”. Choosing it, embracing it and inspiring others to do the same.  

This is not my story to tell. Her name is Aleksandra. But perhaps, names are not important in this story - what truly matters is her passion for living life to its fullest. On a late Tuesday evening, we sit at home, still around the dining table, and we just talk. About anything and everything at the same time. Well, at most times - she talks, I make notes.  

Aleksandra Karadenizova, Creative Business Year 2

E: Uncertainty. Does it ever scare you to think about the future? Because sometimes it certainly scares me. I used to not always be like that, but sometimes I can’t help but think how my next step might be the wrong one. 

A: Of course, the future scares me! If someone tells me that they are not afraid I won’t believe them, because we, as humans, are programmed to be scared of the unknown and to feel comfortable in the familiar. However, the thing that makes the future so exciting is the fact that we don’t know anything about it! We can predict stuff but there is never a 100% chance that we get it right. And no matter how much discomfort this brings us, no matter how scared the uncertainty makes us feel, this is the only way we grow as human beings - when we embrace the discomfort!  

E: Did you always have this mindset? 

A: No, of course not! I was a person who was scared to escape their daily routine! For example, I couldn’t start my day without following the exact same steps as the previous day because this made me believe that today won’t be as good as yesterday! Can you imagine living with these thoughts in your head every day? In high school I realized how badly they were affecting me and started looking for ways to change them, to release this daily pressure of needing to be in control of everything that is happening around me. I was living in comfort, and this started making me feel uncomfortable. 

Change is not easy, especially when the thing that you need to change is your mindset.  

E: Seems like I went through the same thing recently, even though I never experienced it when I was younger. What I found out though, is exactly what you just mentioned - changing your mindset is quite a difficult task. What helped you step out of your bubble of comfort and change for the better? 

A: Well, it all started when I left my home country to chase the “perfect life”. I always believed that by moving to another country, far away from where everyone knows you, you get that new beginning. A new beginning in which the life you are dreaming of is possible. Little did I know that the most important baggage that you carry, no matter where you go, is actually, yourself. And the thing you have to change is not the country, not the surroundings, but your own mindset.  

I am not saying that moving to a foreign country on my own did not influence the change in me - it definitely helped a lot! But if I did not realize that my thoughts are the main thing preventing me from living the “perfect” life - nothing would have changed.. even if I moved to Mars.  

A YouTube channel! This is the thing that helped me change my mindset the most. A friend of mine sent me one video, telling me to watch it because she knew I would appreciate it. And she was right - I immediately got obsessed. Not only did these people have amazing storytelling, and cinematography, but the way they were living life was truly awesome! Seeing them promote the motto that seeking discomfort is what makes you grow the most, inspired that change in me.  

E: Indeed, our thoughts have the power to influence our perception of the world, and make it either great or miserable. It is up to us to have the right perspective. But I wonder then, how do you apply this new mindset of yours in your day-to-day life? Because, we don’t move across the continent every day, right? I find it difficult sometimes to apply all of these amazing concepts I hear about.  

A: Yes, as I said you don’t have to move to another country to make the change happen. The only thing you need is to work on yourself, to sit down and think “What can I do today to get out of my comfort zone, to grow..?” What changed for me, is exactly the way I started approaching my everyday life. Now I wake up in the morning and I am motivated to go and speak with a stranger or to do something for the first time. I have realized how much all of these small situations affect my growth as a person. And the best part is that next time you have to speak in front of a crowd of people, for example, you are less scared. There is no other feeling that compares to the happiness and fulfilment you experience after doing what you have been so scared to do for so long. And this is exactly the feeling that makes me motivated to go out there and try new things, things I never even dared to think of.  

Of course, it is always easier said than done. Change is not easy, not at all. Some days, I still feel scared to try something new, scared of the uncertainty, or the future.. But then I try to remind myself of what comes after that - the euphoria of you accomplishing a goal.  

We need to take care of ourselves and embracing discomfort is the best form of self-care that I would recommend to everyone.