It’s been a while! It will probably be awhile before my next post, too, but I had some time to reflect over the past 2 weeks. As I was gazing out of my window while riding the train in Scotland, I began to contemplate the idea of “comfort zones” and just what their place is in my life. I think this topic is something that many can relate to, so I jotted down my thoughts in my notes app, as I often do, and have now copied them onto this post in hopes that it resonates with someone else, too.
As an introvert, you come to realize that it’s a lot easier to accept your natural tendencies than to try and force yourself away from them. For example, I find solace in my alone time and often seem to flake on plans or deny them in the first place. I’m comfortable alone; I don’t have to pretend to have a million things to talk about or try to keep up with small talk that makes me want to sleep for 10 years or pound my head against the wall. Furthermore, I don’t have to listen to the buzz of conversation within my own mind that is addressing whether or not I “fit in,” if people like me, or if I am saying or doing the appropriate things in a given situation. So you see, I’ve reasoned with myself and have come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly acceptable, healthy even, to allow myself to stay comfortable within my little shell… because I am naturally an introvert, right? My comfort zone also includes having a rigid schedule for the day ahead, that I must stick to in order to feel in control, sticking to the food groups that I’m sure of and not trying new things, not taking monetary risks even if they have the potential to benefit me later on, and not taking risks that could result in failure, regardless of me believing I have a great chance of success. Still, that’s fine?
Well, actually, I don’t think it is… Sure, it may be comfortable, and the time passes, but what memories are being made during that time? What challenges am I enduring? What learning, growth and experience am I gaining? What am I discovering about the world around me that will enable me to be a better person (more understanding, more compassionate, more altruistic)? Who am I meeting that will teach me and thereby expand the depths of my heart? What stories or lessons will I be able to share with my children and grandchildren later on? Quite simply, I am doing little but remaining stagnant while getting closer to death as the second passes. That wording may seem a little grim, but it’s true, isn’t it? For the most part, life passes us by and by the time we realize that every minute counts, it’s too late.
No, to make the most out of the time that we’re given, we have to get away from our comfort zones on a regular basis.
Now, a regular basis does not mean EVERY day or 3 times per week or 7/10 different occasions. It’s a subjective term and like most things, will not be “one size fits all.” I NEED my alone time on a daily basis, no matter what. If I do not get 1-3 hours of alone time every day, I will not function optimally- physically, mentally, or emotionally. As many introverts put it, I use the time to “recharge.” While I am out all day, interacting with others, regardless of the enjoyment, my energy is being drained. I am exhausted after periods of socialization, especially if I’m sober (which I usually am, not insinuating that I drink very often LOL), I am completely EXHAUSTED. For many people, that’s difficult to understand, because for them, socialization gives them energy and being alone expends it. So anyways, I need my alone time and I will not sacrifice that for many things. Now, if there is an opportunity for BOTH to occur, me having my alone time and saying yes to something outside of my comfort zone, then I have resolved to try my hardest and chose to go for it.
Furthermore, getting uncomfortable more often can simply mean choosing to go about your day without a rigid timeline, or trying out a new dinner recipe, or driving a different and longer route going home. It can also mean saying yes to a girl’s trip, planning a solo travel experience, cussing someone out and speaking your feelings, adopting a pet, WHO KNOWS. Again-it’s different for everyone.
Put simply, I want to BE BETTER, just like we all do.. Or should? For me, that involves a holistic approach to becoming a better significant other, sister, daughter, friend, coworker, and so on. If this is you too, then we must know that no matter how many self-improvement books we read or documentaries we watch, we will not reach that goal without getting away from our comfort zone.
It’s all about finding balance… (*SMH ugh what even is balance…*) I know that word gets thrown around a lot, especially on social media as it seems to be a current trend. The definition can be quite controversial, but it truly is an on-going journey and an extensive process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t be accomplished without trials of failure and false pretenses of success; when you think you’ve got it, you realize shortly that you don’t. Then, one day, you realize that you’re kind of living at a better quality than previously, with a little bit less effort. I’ll give you an example… I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Europe. In previous years, I would have stressed for WEEKS in advance, trying to do anything possible to cut weight with this idea that I needed to be a certain weight before I left, so that I could stress less about my appearance or the number of times I would workout while I was on vacation. Then, on vacation, regardless of my weight, I would restrict food groups, try to inconspicuously diet (order salad and pretend it’s because I’d rather have salad over xyz, PSH yeah f*cking right), and prioritize getting some type of workout in, even if that meant sacrificing precious time. The whole trip, I would worry about my appearance, shy from full body pictures, imagine myself having gained 5+ pounds from straying from my routine, and so on. Literally, I would self-inflict all sorts of misery and 10000000% UNNECESSARILY. What a bunch of SILLINESS! Yeah, sad, I know. THANK GOD, this girl has changed. I found balance- I’ve learned how to accept myself (~70% of the time), prioritize my overall health and happiness, enjoy the finer things (a glass of wine with a pretty view, a cozy coffee shop next to my soulmate, brunch with an old friend, and so on), let loose once in a while, and indulge without going balls deep (should I be keeping things PG13 pls lemme know).
Wrapping up, I think it’s productive to mentally clarify what our comfort zone consists of, and to pay attention to the times that we need our comfort zones versus when we cling to them out of fear. Comfort zones can be beneficial and allow us to flourish in many aspects of our lives; comfort zones can also be dangerous should we chose to cling to them in order to feel safe, shielded and accepted. I would challenge you, as I challenge myself as well, to answer the following questions:
How often do I chose my comfort zone rather than taking risks, so that I am not faced with any negative emotion (fear, rejection, displacement, failure, etc.)?
How often am I happy about choosing my comfort zone rather than doing/going with the other option?
What do I gain from my comfort zone and what do I lose? And vice versa, what do I gain from going outside of my comfort zone and what do I lose?
In what upcoming situations can I chose to stray from my comfort zone, with a greater chance of gaining something in return?
Now, let’s get a little bit more comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Have a lovely week, fellow humans.