Leave Your Comfort Zone and Try Something New

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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I grew up as a picky eater. I was very “basic” in what I liked: graham crackers, mac and cheese, pizza, and popcorn. I didn’t dare venture out to vegetables or anything remotely green. And kettle corn is still nasty. If you were to ask me to share a word from my parents that described me as a child, “finicky” comes to mind.

I remember the first time I tried raw tomato on a sandwich. I was in college before I was willing to take such a risk. The texture was odd at first, but I remember being OK with my choice.

I’m still fairly picky, and definitely still basic. I’ll choose a burger over steak any day, and I’d rather not sit at the same table with someone who orders seafood. Any seafood.

A friend recently persuaded me to try almond milk. To my surprise, I loved it! It felt smoother and didn’t leave an aftertaste like cow’s milk does. I had never been able to drink a glass of milk without food to go with it, say a cookie, warm brownies, or a bowl of ramen noodles (don’t judge). But I enjoyed a small glass of almond milk all by itself.

All these years, I figured the “alternative milks” coming to the market weren’t worth my attention. Cow’s milk had always been fine and I assumed other milks were ways to squeeze more money out of consumers.

With that glass of almond milk, though, I began wondering what else I had been missing out on because I wasn’t willing to try something new.

This question reaches far beyond food.

I’ve had another learning curve recently with my broken femur. This injury has forced me to rely on adaptive equipment in ways I’ve never had to before. With Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), the impending need has come to mind, but I’ve always dismissed such notions, thinking “I don’t need that yet.”

Although some things may not be necessary, I’ve stumbled upon things that are simply safer. And safer is better when working to prolong my abilities despite the deterioration that is characteristic of FA.

Consider the shower chair. I’ve seen them. I’ve even shared hotel rooms with friends who couldn’t shower without one. I had always removed the chair from the shower, thinking it was in my way. But I’ve come to understand its value in both safety and comfort.

I had never considered comfort.

With that in mind, I think everyone should utilize shower chairs, physically necessary or not. I think people may be surprised how beneficial they are — no need to balance while washing your feet or doing those extracurricular activities such as shaving. More importantly, they are safer for everyone given the reduction in the slip category.

The issue I had before I needed a shower chair was the stigma that often accompanies disability.

The issue I had with almond milk was my perception that what I’m used to was good enough.

Both will only hold me back, keeping me from experiencing new things and finding things that enhance my experiences in life. Holding on to the stigmas that accompany disability, or allowing my limited perceptions to keep me from stepping out of my comfort zone, will only leave me wondering, “What could be?”

I’m learning that there is no good excuse for not trying something new.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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