Why You Need Boundaries Outside Your Comfort Zone, According To Community Leader Katya Karlova 

The corporate executive and up-and-coming model is more than just familiar with the magic of stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

(Katya Karlova)

Presented by Ascend Agency

The space outside someone’s comfort zone is usually referred to as the ‘growth zone.’ It’s supposedly where all the magic happens, which is exactly why every single CEO, industry leader, or motivational speaker urges their followers to step outside their comfort zone. 

Corporate executive and up-and-coming model Katya Karlova is more than just familiar with the magic of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Karlova had just been promoted to VP of Talent Acquisition in the company she was working in, when she decided to expand her horizons. 

“Many people would have been perfectly happy with such a high-level corporate position,” says Karlova. “But I wanted to find fulfillment as a whole person and not just a professional.”

After two years of working remotely, Karlova felt that there had to be more out there for her than her corporate job. 

“No matter how much I loved my work and even though I was really good at it, I felt that being obsessed solely with work is a recipe for a mental health disaster,” Karlova says.

Fortunately, Karlova has always been a go-getter. Apart from her main career, she’s always been interested in creating a brand out of herself and her story. Her first attempt at doing this is through modeling, which required Karlova to step way beyond her comfort zone.

From her schedule of attending executive meetings and managing a team in her usual suit or dress-and-blazer ensemble, Karlova started donning lingerie and posing in front of the camera. Karlova says this shift was liberating.

“Part of why I wanted to do modeling is to take control of my own sexuality,” reveals Karlova. “As a professional executive, I didn’t feel sex-positive for a long time. Society says embracing one’s sexuality is incompatible with being professional and being taken seriously. But through modeling, I started to understand that showcasing yourself—sex positivity and all—is better than being performatively conservative.”

As luck would have it, Karlova’s valiant effort to step outside her comfort zone and own her sexuality granted her incredible rewards. Her Instagram account dedicated to modeling hit the ground running from the day it launched. It continues to grow organically as more and more people discover Karlova’s story.

Asked if she would advise other women to likewise step outside their comfort zones, Karlova says, “Yes, but not all the time.”

Setting Boundaries Outside the Comfort Zone

Karlova explains the caveat in her response by citing the multitude of reasons why people, specifically women, tend to hesitate before breaching the borders of their comfort zone.

“People talk about stepping outside your comfort zone, and I 100% support that message,” Karlova says. “At the same time, you need to check in and ask yourself why you’re afraid to do what you’re afraid to do. Are you afraid to do it because of your own insecurities? Or are you hesitant to do it because it violates your boundaries?”

For Karlova, this distinction is crucial to make.

“Sometimes, people push through things they’re uncomfortable with, and then magic happens once they step outside that comfort zone,” says Karlova. “But others push their own boundaries and don’t feel good about it. The latter case is an example of why boundaries still matter.”

In the case of young, aspiring models, for instance, Karlova says it’s important to decide for themselves the boundaries that they feel comfortable with. One example she gives is coming up with a new concept for photoshoots.

“If you’re not having fun doing it, there’s something wrong. Your kind of fun and your personality should be coming through your photos,” says Karlova. “If it’s not, then you need to take a step back. Or if you feel uncomfortable, then you need to take a step back and do a quick reassessment, perhaps even come up with a new concept.”

Another example Karlova gives is choosing to work with certain photographers. Her top advice for models at the starting point of their careers is quite simple: Ask questions.

“You have every right to ask questions like, ‘Where are we going to shoot?’ ‘Can I bring someone with me?’” says Karlova. “If they’re not comfortable with you bringing a friend along, and you find that weird, or if they’re trying to push you in a direction that you’re not comfortable with, walk away.”

In a society where vulnerability and bravery are often confused and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is typically equated with doing things a person is uncomfortable with, Karlova hopes to make the distinction crystal clear for women everywhere.

She reminds all of us, “Magic happens outside your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean you’ll step out there without setting any boundaries. You deserve better than that.”