LGBTQ+ Pride Month

5 Surprising Things I Learned By Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

"There’s more to all of us than I think we realize."

Brian Falduto —best known for his iconic line, "You're tacky and I hate you" in the film School of Rock — is all grown up, and sharing his personal creative and coming out journey to empower young LGBTQ people. Through, his newly launched and International Coach Federation-certified endeavor, called Love Life, he hopes to work with LGBTQ teens to help them work through trauma, access their creativity, and live as their most authentic selves.

When you're called to make drastic changes in your life, it can be overwhelming for anyone. Breaking out of your comfort zone is scary but necessary to grow. As an actor and singer, even I struggle with breaking out of my comfort zone and taking the steps necessary to grow and become who I want to be. Most recently, a major change for me was moving out of my small East Coast town to West Hollywood.

Breaking out of your comfort zone means something different to everybody. For me, coming to Los Angeles and abandoning the psychologically limiting aspects of my past was liberating and brought wonderful lessons. For you, it could be something as simple as joining a dance class you've been curious about or cooking a new dish from scratch. You might feel the desire to pick up and move across the globe and finally do that trip you always wanted.

Whatever breaking out of your comfort zone might look like, these five lessons in doing so are universal to anyone.

Courtesy: Brian Falduto
Courtesy: Brian Falduto

1. When you disregard the opinions of others and trust your gut, you will be unstoppable.

I received mixed reactions from people close to me on moving to Los Angeles.

There were the "cheerleader" supporters who would've been behind whatever life choice I made that could possibly help me with that universal and eternal quest for happiness that we're all after. Then there were the jealous folk who envied the courage it took for me to question my life as it was and try looking at things in a new light. There were doubters, who couldn't see outside of their comfortable living existence and therefore had plenty of pestering logistical questions for me. Finally, there have been a few people I've inspired. I've never not gone after something I wanted and this was the biggest evidence of that attitude yet. It felt good to be able to add this to my personal résumé.

My seemingly irrational decision to up and leave was not going to devastate anyone I cared about. It was time for me to trust my own personal instincts and shut out the commentary of others — something I have not always been good at. The timing was never going to be perfect. I had to stop using the inhibiting word "someday" and take the present moment into my own hands.

2. I don’t need everything that I thought I needed.

There were a lot of hang-ups I'd collected over the years that made me feel tied down to my living situation. For instance, one of my biggest concerns upon moving was, "Where will I get my haircut?" And that's not a joke. Upon arriving in L.A., I had plans to stay in an AirBnB with a stranger as a host, in a neighborhood I knew nearly nothing about, and with a car that I had rented off Turo. I only had two suitcases of belongings and a handful of close friends that I had not done a very good job at keeping up with over the years.

I quickly found that once you remove all the extraneous things from your day-to-day, you don't miss them or even care about them that much at all. I was here for me, myself, and I. Those were the only three things I needed to care about. It was surprisingly simple to adjust to a life where I have way less to worry about outside of my own mentality, my physical being, my artistry, and my goals — go figure. So many of the things that I thought were important to me just weren't. A luxurious, comfortable lifestyle is not going to give me what I need right now in life. I want to be rich in experiences and relationships because those are the things that are going to propel me forward as an artist, creative, and life coach.

Courtesy: Brian Falduto
Courtesy: Brian Falduto

3. I have more room in my heart than I thought I did.

Most of the people I have met over the past few years have been brought into my life organically through mutual friends or career-related endeavors. When I moved, I was at a place where I felt pretty solid about myself as a person and my relationships were fairly fortified. So, if someone found their way into my heart, they were literally slipping through the cracks. I was not purposefully shutting anyone out, but it had been a long time since I had to make friends. Challenge accepted.

To highlight a few of the ways I put myself out there to make friends:

  • I attended various "mixer" events
  • I signed up for some dating apps — why not?
  • I went to everything I was invited to
  • I enrolled in several acting workshops and classes to meet fellow actors
  • I went to songwriter networking events with the Los Angeles Songwriters Collective

Oh, and did I mention that all of the above was within a week of my arrival?

One of the easiest ways I made friends was by joining Varsity Gay League, an LGBTQ-inclusive weekend kickball club. I was drafted onto the team "I Want Candy." I hadn't played a sport since high school and, although he denies it, I'm fairly certain my captain just wanted "the gay kid from School of Rock" on his roster. Whatever. I was clearly on a fun team so I didn't care.

The above attempts to put myself out there might not look like a lot on paper, but they were exhausting, especially when you have no immediate support system to depend on when things get tough. I put myself in a vulnerable position and I learned a lot from the social challenge of it all.

But I'm grateful. People were way more welcoming than I assumed they'd be, and I learned a lot about myself and what I have to offer. As I navigated the social circumstances thrown at me, parts of my personality were unearthed that I didn't even know I had.

I wouldn't have believed you if you told me that four months would be enough time to find friends I adore, a roommate I'm obsessed with, someone to fall in love with, someone to break my heart, and oodles of cliché Cali drama to get swept up in — but I'd have been wrong.

4. We're all the same.

The constant subjectivity to fresh-faced interactions with new people allowed me to get to know people who were characteristically different than I but who, inside, were facing the same human struggles and emotions as everyone else. It was a refreshing change of pace to get close with and understand people outside of my comfort zone.

Courtesy: Brian Falduto
Courtesy: Brian Falduto

5. Self-care and alone time are essential to sustaining a happy life.

In my first month here, I had quite a bucket list of personal and career-oriented goals to accomplish, but I certainly wasn't going to wait around until I made friends who had schedules like mine to come along.

I took on a lot of experiences by myself. What I discovered is that I actually love being by myself. Being an actor and a songwriter I knew, to some degree, that I needed a small amount of alone time to allow for certain introspection and creativity to happen as an artist. What I didn't know is that the sky is the limit on what independence can do to help me grow.

Upon arriving in L.A., for the first time in my life, I had a blank calendar in front of me. It was exhilarating and I found myself getting up crazy early every day filled with pure excitement to get going on that day's adventure. I think a lot of people fear the unknown. I certainly did. But once you thrust yourself into it, it can actually fuel you. I quickly got around to reading some books I had been putting off for ages, organizing and improving my professional profiles, writing music, and pursuing opportunities to improve and work on my craft.

I felt like I could do anything I wanted. One of the first things I did was fill my mornings with fitness. I actually got pretty creative about it and hear me out because I highly recommend this if you're new to an area. I didn't want to get a gym membership here because I knew I would want to experience the beautiful weather often, especially via hiking, and I also knew that L.A. was known for its many chic fitness studios.

With little research, I put together a workout plan that would allow me to do trial days or free classes at every gym and fitness studio that piqued my interest. Eventually, I had a (growing) list of about 40 spots I could workout for free while experiencing a new part of town and interacting with new people every day — and this wasn't even including hiking trails I had been eyeing! For nearly two months I worked out entirely for free and can honestly say I'm now in the best shape of my life. Would I have done this back home? Probably not.

The time I created for myself outside of my comfort zone gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realize what may be one of my biggest personal victories to date: happiness is dependent on you doing things for yourself. It is the greatest expression of self-love when we find that self-sufficient space where we can be present to fully explore our own personal and unique story. What I was looking for was inside me; the change of coast just helped me find it.

In the end, breaking out of my comfort zone proved there is more to me than I thought there was. There's more to all of us than I think we realize. Often, the relationships that we have were formed by our past selves. Naturally, we become accustomed to the way in which we are viewed and comfortable with the surrounding circumstances. This can be dangerous because over time we lose track of who we are and what we want because we are so caught up in all the forces that have been shaping us for years. But what if that all went away? Try it. The least that can happen is you learn something.

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