I think I did a good deal of staying in my comfort zone while growing up.
It was quite a wide comfort zone, however. I had a fair amount of friends because I didn’t just have school – I had church friends and SU friends as well, so I didn’t feel like I needed to go elsewhere for that. I had lots of things to do at church and a couple of hobbies that I had started when I was young (piano from p4, drama from p5, guides from p6) and so I didn’t have too much spare time. With the spare time I did have I was quite content reading as much as I could and writing as much as I could.
I never really had to stray out of the comfort zone I was in, because I had everything I needed and wanted in it. I guess that’s why it’s called a comfort zone.
However, the time came for me, as it does for everybody, when you have to get out of your comfort zone. It started with going to weekends away or camps on my own, and eventually built up to going to university.
Meeting people has always been my big issue. I really hate feeling like I’m on show, although I’m definitely not alone in my dislike of that. When I meet new people, I can feel very conscious of everything I’m doing and saying. That comment when I was trying to be too funny, whether I was too loud, too quiet, too annoying. There’s a stage before the comfort of friendship where I don’t feel like I’m being myself.
So putting myself out there, and meeting new people, was thoroughly out of my comfort zone as I began to try new things.
Uni was one of the biggest steps I’ve ever taken in terms of getting out of my comfort zone. It might not seem like it, because I stayed at home, but for me it was a massive thing. I had to meet a lot of new people, try and get good grades, and work out if I had chosen a good course all at once. It was absolutely terrifying and I wasn’t sure at the time if it was the right thing to do or not.
(In hindsight, it totally was.)
Recently, I’ve had to go further and take some different, but important, steps out of my comfort zone in terms of trying to find out what I want to do after uni.
And what I want to talk about in this post, is that part of me that tries to stop me taking these steps.
This part of me loves the comfort zone. It’s in the name – it’s comfy and warm and happy and content.
You see, and I hope I’m not alone in this, whenever I do something different, there’s a voice in my head that says:
‘You don’t have to do this. You could easily just not do this and be completely fine.’
The phrase ‘you don’t actually need to’ is the one that sticks in my mind the most. Because it’s true, if I didn’t go for that internship, or send my story into that magazine, or make that phone call, then I would be fine. I would be happy, I would still have uni, my friends, my hobbies, my family. All the things that make me happy would still be there. I wouldn’t lose anything by not doing them.
But the way I see it, this is my brain putting up that well known ‘fight or flight’ mechanism – and it wants me to run away.
The issue is, the things I’m trying to do, which are outside my comfort zone, are things which would be good.
They would be good for getting me a job in the future, or for increasing my confidence and experience. I would enjoy them in a way that’s very different from the things I do now.
I don’t have to do them.
But I do want to.
And you don’t get a career by sitting in your comfort zone. You don’t get published or meet new people or grow up.
You have to fight for things like that, rather than run away from them. And even though I would be perfectly fine if I just chilled out in that comfortable place I’m in, I would never get to do anything that I dream about doing.
In the past couple of months particularly I’ve learnt that even if I have doubts about something, I need to learn how to fight my way through them. I need to replace that voice in my head telling me that I can easily just give up before I even begin, by saying that these things that I want are worth it. And if I fail – I’ll still be as fine as I would have been if I hadn’t tried.