May 24, 2019

My Comfort Zone Was Tested and It Was Exhilarating!

Have you ever tried something new, panicked and realized you just might be terrible at it?

Recently, I started a new side hustle pouring wine at a vineyard’s tasting room. How hard could it be? It’s just pouring wine. Nothing to it...right? Greet your wine tasters, pour a little wine, learn a few wine terms and enjoy the camaraderie. 

Turns out, my first day I felt clueless and my comfort zone was challenged. Pouring wine was the one thing I thought I could do with some degree of ability. I mean, having more than a few years of experience pouring wine into my own glass this was sure to be a breeze. 

Truth is... this task even seemed a bit fumbled on my first day. Normally, I could uncork a bottle, pour a glass, and do a jig before you could say Pinot Noir

In my defense, I thought I’d have more time to learn about their wines, get acclimated with the wine bar and test drive a few corkscrews before being put in the trenches. 

The first and most important piece of learning the job was the cash register. Well, of course, it was! They’re in the business of selling make money! So, naturally, charging for wine and getting the cash was a priority.  How silly of me to overlook this important fact. 

I haven’t worked with a cash register for more than 20 years. My very first job at age 16 was at a convenience store in the small town where I grew up. After that, it was a few part-time retail jobs spattered throughout my past. Back in my ring-it-up prime days, I could push buttons on the register with one hand, talk to a customer while reaching to get their pack of cigarettes with the other. 

Now, after some 30 years, my brain took the form of a jellyfish. The manager kindly went over the assembly of buttons as I tried to keep up and make sense of each one. Rows of buttons – varieties of white wine, red wine, a glass of wine, and even wine tasting button. Then there are buttons for wine jam, wine chocolate (yum), t-shirts, corkscrews, and a Haley. What the heck is that?

Suddenly I was a nervous nitwit. I had completely lost all my register ring-it-up game from my youth and squinted over the register hunting and pecking like a feeble barnyard chicken. 

So, why am I doing this you may be wondering?

I’m currently at the crossroads of having an empty nest – wanting to occupy some downtime – discover new experiences – expand my horizons and make a little extra money.  

I know it may seem these crossroads are more like a traffic jam on the spaghetti junction highway, but here’s the thing – that first day struck a feeling; a memory from my youth. The one where being fearless, becoming whoever I wanted while discovering new possibilities and not stopping short to over analyze the situation. More or less jump in and do the best you can with spirited humor and a positive attitude. My regular office job working with spreadsheets and accounting software has been my comfort zone for the last 20 years, so I felt the need to feed the soul with new opportunities.    

The others working that day with more experience and knowledge were very helpful and kind to me. “Don't panic,” one of the vineyard aficionados said. “You’re not expected to be an expert right away.  It takes time to learn. It’s really about showing hospitality and providing a fun experience for the customers.”

He had a point, but when I saw him entertaining a lively bachelorette party of wine tasters with his worldly expertise, I felt small in my world as I looked on. 

That feeling of smallness, inexperience and rough around the edges forced me to take a step back and focus on my efforts rather than the outcomes. Maybe fall back on the old adage...fake it ‘til you make it, but with an approach of truth and honesty. 

As droves of people marched in the tasting room, I had no choice but to do my part and give our customers an experience, pour some wine and share pleasantries. As I lined up wine glasses for different parties of 2, 4 and even 11, I was honest by admitting it was my first day and that I didn't know much. If they had any questions, we’d get our worldly wine experts to answer. 

In the meantime, I could pour the wine with a smile and we could exchange mutual wine wisdom (or lack of) with each other.  This turned out to be a successful outcome that worked for me. Our cordial customers cut me some slack and were very supportive.

The day ended with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It was exhilarating when that feeble chicken hunted and pecked her way out of uncertainty to realize new capabilities. 

Trying something new doesn’t mean you’ll be terrible at it for long. With every ounce of interest or passion you have towards that new thing you’re sure to improve with time. 

In fact, I’m hoping by summers end my cash register skills will make strides and I’ll be right back to the days of yesteryear.  Pushing buttons with one hand, talking with customers while uncorking a bottle with the other!  Then, popping in a Haley to seal the deal (Yup, now I know). 

So, if you're thinking about trying something new, do it! Get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to be terrible to start. Who knows... one day you could be that feeble barnyard chicken turned worldly expert.  For a little encouragement, check out this great article: 10 Ways to Overcome Fear and Break Out of Your Comfort Zone.

Have you been out of your comfort zone lately? What was the outcome? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

“By leaving your comfort zone behind and taking a leap of faith into something new, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming.” Anonymous

“Say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards.” —Tina Fey

Just an FYI - I'll try to keep you posted on any developing wine thoughts or other fun news on my Facebook page. Follow the link to FB here. Also, be sure to turn on notifications with the page, so you don't miss any posts. Facebook has a way of randomly showing what it wants in your news feed. 

Cheers! 🍷



  1. Frankly this sounds like my dream job! As long as I could take a sip here and there!

    1. Lauren (aka Carol), I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge one baby step at a time. It's time for a new venture. Indeed, there are a few perks of sipping and sampling. After clocking out, of course. Thanks for commenting. Salute!

  2. It sounds like a lot of fun. I'm not a drinker, but I could definitely pour and talk! The cash register...I would probably panic as well!

    1. Rena, the pouring and talking was what I mainly considered when taking the job. It's the behind the scenes procedures and wine knowledge that I need to sharpen my know-how. I'm confident, I'll get there one wine bottle at a time. Salute!

  3. Great article! Learning new things is so good for the brain, in this case as long as you’re not sampling too much product. 😉 I enjoy pouring wine and have done so at some events in my town. Can’t remember the last time I worked a cash register either. 🤔

    1. Getting the brain re-charged is just what I need! You're right...careful on the sampling. Haha - thanks Anna!


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