You’d think that having lived the life I’ve lived, what with moving countries (almost) every four years, that I am pretty comfortable outside of the comfort zone. But you’d be wrong.
I don’t know if it’s my Libra and Scorpio personalities clashing (just kidding I do not really believe in this… mostly) or just the fact that human beings are a complex swirl of contradictions, but I find myself having to REALLY dig deep to get outside of my comfort zone. I have a tendency to make huge, giant, earth shifting leaps, and then spend the next year or two burrowing down into a nice safe hole/routine. Almost like a shock to the system and then a recoup.
My parents always joke that I seem to date men with pretty deep roots. But that makes sense doesn’t it? As a third culture kid, a potted plant (a name I came up with myself) and a free spirit flag, flapping in the wind, doesn’t it make sense that I’d find the biggest, strongest, sturdiest tree, and wrap myself around it?
But the leaping, the courage, the daring, in many ways it is an illusion. It’s born from stubbornness.
Like most people, I have the angel and the devil on my shoulder, or if you’re not religious (like I am not) I have the rational voice and the daring voice, the big voice and the small voice, and they constantly bicker with each other.
No I don’t actually hear voices (and if you do you should contact a mental health professional) but you know that feeling. The pull between your gut and your head, or your heart and your head, or your foot and your head (okay I wrote that one as a joke, but honestly it is true, sometimes I’ve made up my mind not to do something and then low and behold my feet have already taken me to the place and my brains like, well fuck, I guess we’re doing this).
What even is the concept of ‘The Comfort Zone’. I had to google it.
Well first of all “comfort zone” is a noun. So good for you words. Huge achievement.
And second of all, does anyone else actually feel MORE anxious when they are in a place or situation that feels safe or at ease, without stress? Maybe that is the worrier in me, but it’s like that quote:
That quote by the way, I had to google it as well as it is a popular movie trope, when something terrible is about to happen in the dungeon/saloon/spaceship but originally appeared (or so the internet thinks) in 1934 on The Lucky Texan.
Which makes sense because, forgive my hideous grasp of more modern world history (ask me about the ancient Egyptians and I’m your gal…last 150 years…eh?) but wasn’t that around the time of the great depression? Also a period of time between two bloody and population decimating World Wars?
No wonder people were just waiting for the next shitstorm. They were right to. The 1940’s was not a fun time…I was going to make a joke about a group of sexy army men…but actually I’ll refrain. But just imagine that I did, and that it was JUICY.
The comfort zone in my opinion, can actually be a gilded cage. I’ve met SO many people who have this idea of a thing they would like to do (move countries/change career paths/try something new) but they “can’t” because of X, Y and Z reasons (I’m too old/what about money/what if I failed at it).
I get that my “leap and the net will appear” schtick is all very well and good for a white, middle class, educated woman with supportive family, to tout. I’m not saying everybody has the privilege that I have had. I’m not an asshole (mostly), so I get that there are so many factors that can actually stop you from moving outside your comfort zone.
But I also know that the number one thing stopping any one person from making the leap, is themselves.
And how do I know that?
Because I am your classic self sabotage-r (yes thank you spell check I know that is not a word). I am insecure, I am fearful, and as we’ve pointed out above, an anxious worrywart (I get that from my nana and she lived to be 96 so I’m accepting of it now).
But I am also stubborn as fuck. And I war with myself on a daily basis.
Sometimes the fear wins, even with someone who seems to give no fucks (news flash: I really really do). I will give you a perfect example of letting the fear grip you, and dominate you: I got my California license almost a year ago. I have been on the roads in Los Angeles (with arguably some of the worst drivers in America) for almost 12 whole months. And in that time, I have been on the freeway….
Once was an hour where I paid my driving instructor SIX MONTHS AFTER I HAD BEEN ON THE ROAD EVERY DAY BY MYSELF, to go downtown and around for an hour with me, to practice.
And once was yesterday, and 5.30am, on my way to an early morning yoga sesh.
Now. I know that I can take the highway, (I’ve done it twice after all) but today, I took the route I normally take. The non-freeway route. Why? Because that is my comfort zone and I am scared that I will die on a 6 lane road at 65 miles per hour, and my Dad will have to fly to California from Australia or France (depending on where he is at that moment) and he will find my sex toys, and he will have to have a VERY uncomfortable conversation with my boyfriend, who will read my diary, and realize I am a terrible person, and no one will like me or remember me after death, and also I will be dead and will have died without any meaningful contribution to this world, and my genes won’t live on because I don’t have any kids yet, and no one will know to not feed my dog Ollie any dog food with chicken or grain in it because he’s allergic, and Ollie will forget me and get to go live in a nice house in Los Feliz with a family that isn’t me, and a cat named Steve.
Is that rational? Yes. Very. Dying is not great unless you’re super old like my Nana. Am I likely to die on the freeway, a thing that millions of Los Angelino’s use every day? I mean the chances are there (touch wood), but no I probably will not.
Why did I go on the freeway yesterday?
Because my stubborn, kick your ass across the world, fuck you, fuck this voice showed up, after two HORRIBLE days at work, and she said: BITCH WE ARE DOING THIS SO GET FUCKING READY.
And we did. And it lasted three minutes because actually I only have like 2 minutes of highway between me and my office, and then it was over and the adrenalin subsided, and I had to run three errands yesterday that would have taken me 15 minutes on the freeway but instead I chose the longer route. Because I like the longer route and no one is a massive semi-trailer. And also because I am still scared.
And I may never take the freeway again (no I probably will, I need to grow up) but what I’m saying in this whole metaphor is, sometimes you’ve got to let that crazy voice grip you, and actually take you to the thing you want/need to do.
The comfort zone is okay, 80% of the time.
No-one is telling you to sell your house and move to mars (although definitely do that, I hear the property prices are very reasonable), but what I am saying is, sometimes you’ve just got to say yes and figure it out afterwards.
Or, let your feet do the talking and just get there, and let your brain, heart and gut catch up.
I was on a podcast a few weeks ago and you can find it here. It’s more of me blathering on about being daring and taking chances and yada yada yada.
Go out there, get out of the comfort zone, and get on that freeway of life.
Happy Hump Day.