A Comfort Zone is a Beautiful Place

but nothing ever grows there.

I have been having a lot of thoughts lately about wanting things, but not wanting things. Wanting certain parts of things, without having the whole sum of those parts. It feels safer to just take a taste of things, and not jump feet first into a pool of something that I’m not used to.

I’ve struggled with this for most of my life. In the winter of 2015-2016 I found myself more paralyzed by fear than I had been before. There were things that I used to want to do, places I wanted to explore, and dreams that I so passionately wanted to hunt down. My fears and anxieties and insecurities grew and multiplied and invited their friends to come and join. I wove them all together into a beautifully blinding bubble that surrounded me. I decorated the walls and made myself at home inside this safe, but fake, little world. A Lorde song, Buzzcut Season, seemed to really capture the idea of how comfortable and enticing my comfort zone was:

The men up on the news
They try to tell us all that we will lose
But it’s so easy in this blue
Where everything is good
And I’ll never go home again
Favorite friend
And nothing’s wrong but nothing’s true
I live in a hologram with you
Where all the things that we do for fun play along
But I live in a hologram with you

The complicated thing about this is that it sounds too good to be true – because it is -. This false sense of safety felt great; nothing bad would happen and everything was simple because there were no decisions to be made. But that’s the catch– there are no decisions to be made because you aren’t doing anything. I was staying in every night, isolating myself from my friends, missing out on parties or trying new restaurants, going on trips, taking advantage of job or volunteer opportunities, etc. I made believe that I was keeping myself happy by staying in and being low-key. I told myself that I actually enjoyed being anti-social and having “relaxing” nights in watching Netflix for hours. (which tbh is true, to an extent).

It’s hard to see outside of the bubble. The walls get more and more dense the longer you live in there, until you can’t see out at all. This is when it’s the hardest to get out. It took me most of the 2016 year, chipping away at the walls and slowly sticking a toe or two out, to be able to see how much I was missing. It isn’t until you’re all the way out and standing in the sunshine when you can really see the big picture and how tiny the box was that you trapped yourself inside. I had a therapist once tell me that it’s like a dog that has been trained to be locked inside of a cage with a shock collar that goes off every time they tried to walk out, and eventually even when the gate was open and the shock collar was off they still chose to stay inside of the cage because they were afraid that they would get that same shock upon exiting the gate. The bubble is only as impenetrable as you believe it is.

It takes you committing yourself 100% to something scary, something so completely outside of your comfort zone, that allows you to fully jump out of the bubble and stand in the sun. It will feel scary, you will fear the shock, the walls will tell you that it’s more comfortable inside. While it may be true that it feels more comfortable, it sure as hell is not bringing you any long-term happiness or growth. Get out and go see the things that scare you, you already know what’s inside your bubble, there is nothing new to learn there.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” ~Robert Frost




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