THE DAY I STEPPED OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

I want to share some reflections of the day I stepped out of my comfort zone by agreeing to appear on Married at First Sight.

I want to share some reflections of the day I stepped out of my comfort zone by agreeing to appear on Married at First Sight. It’s the most watched TV show in Australia, and it gets a lot of attention, commentary, criticism, and judgement. As do we, the participants.

I got the call on a Thursday afternoon in June

It was a Thursday afternoon in June when the Executive Producer of Married at First Sight called me to tell me I had been chosen to be on the show; as one of twelve grooms, and as the oldest groom ever on MAFS.

I had applied online in April as a sort of dare from my daughter. They have 50,000 names on their database, which gave me a 0.03% chance of being chosen. And yet, I was chosen, against all odds.  And I had to say, “yes”. If the universe conspires to make that happen for me, it must be for a good reason. That’s how I roll, that’s what I believe. Plus, I’m not going to die wondering.

That was the day I stepped out of my comfort zone

That was the day I stepped out of my comfort zone; by agreeing to go on MAFS, the most watched TV show in Australia (my season reached 14.2 million people across Total TV). Not to mention the global audience with MAFS showing in the UK, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, and countless more countries.

I had a vague sense of how hard this would be, because I know that whenever someone puts themselves out there, they attract criticism and judgement. And that is the number one reason why people settle and play small: fear of judgement and rejection from other people. And that is also my greatest fear.

My greatest fear is rejection

My greatest fear in life is being rejected by others (known as repellamophobia). I am inhibited in new social situations because I feel inadequate, and I view myself as socially incompetent, too full on, and inferior to others.

Despite that, I’m a motivational speaker. I literally stand up and speak out to large audiences: putting myself in the spotlight to be rejected by someone, if not everyone.

And that’s why I do it. To challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and facing my fears. When I speak in front of a live audience, I feel alive. MAFS, however, was a totally different experience.

I received so much hate that it started to mess with my head

Not that I was the only participant who copped it, because we all did. But I’m here to speak for myself only. Channel 9 offered us psychology support, which I know a lot of contestants used. I chose to speak with my own counsellor.

The social and ‘entertainment’ media landscape (Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, The Daily Mail, numerous podcasts) is a frenzy of accusations, condemnations, insinuations, and fake news. It’s toxic, and there I am, right in the middle of it all.

Am I perfect? Of course not.

Do I have massive flaws, struggles and ‘issues’. Sure, I do; and I have always talked openly about them. My whole life is a balancing act – that’s why I have a Yin/Yang tattoo on my back – and sometimes I go a little off-balance (Do not under-estimate the Commitment Ceremony pressure of being called to account by three seasoned experts, in front of the other eleven couples, with 10 cameras in your face, 30 microphones across the room, and a production crew of 50 people).

But am I an arrogant South African prick? Am I a revolting and abusive man? Am I the worst possible pig imaginable? Am I a small man who cries when he doesn’t get his way? Because that’s what some people have said about me. And yeah, it’s tough. Especially when it comes from those who are closest to me (but that’s another story).

If you live for other people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

This has been one of my mantras for some time. I feel like I’ve lived a large part of my life pleasing others because of my fear of rejection, and I’m working on turning that around without feelings of guilt and shame.

Although, I must admit, the criticism, judgement, and rejection I receive from being “me” on MAFS was extremely uncomfortable (and took me way out of my comfort zone). My self-love and self-belief took a hit. I learnt some things about myself which I’m now ‘working’ on. The future looks bright.

Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who wrote a book called “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”. And her number one, top regret is this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. And that’s what I’m trying to do, the only way I know how; by just being me.

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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