It pleases me to think of myself as one who pushes forward and often outside the realm of ease and security. Yet, stepping back and giving a close look at the amounts of risk and chance being taken I see growth spurts that are sporadic, unpredictable and often not willingly chosen.
Marching willingly into the unknown is more difficult in practice than it first seems in thought. Being in the “zone” of “comfort” is in many ways exactly what I long sought. In that old thinking there would be some sort of eventual “arrival” at the threshold of the exact life I waited for. Of course, that never happened and is actually impossible!
My steady past viewpoint was moving outside one’s comfort zone was only about what one does. Bungee jumping, sky diving, new romantic relationships, racing cars, flying, exotic travel and things of the sort long filled my thinking of what was beyond the “c-zone”. Thrills of this sort I have enjoyed, but found the crest of experience did not last long. Like a drug, to maintain the buzz I needed another fix soon after. Over time it took more and more of a particular experience to shock my adrenaline flow enough give me the high I yearned for.
The most meaningful times outside my comfort zone had much more to do with what is inside and my habitual ways than any activity outside of me. Anyone who has quit smoking knows in that process a person steps far outside what is usual and accustomed to. For me there was a sort of manic anxiety that crested in crescendo each time I fought back a craving. There was no way to beat that habit while in my comfort zone.
Stepping outside my comfort zone feels:
Uncertain. Tentative. Different. Difficult. Risky.
And can sometimes even feel:
Threatening. Hazardous. Dangerous. Perilous. Scary.
But the result of being out of my comfort zone leaves a feeling that is:
Refreshing. Stimulating. Uplifting. Revitalizing. Energizing. Restorative. Reviving. Inspirational. Invigorating. Rekindling. Stirring. Rousing. Encouraging. Motivating. Moving. Heartening. Cheering. Rejuvenating. Regenerating. Enlivening.
And above it always feels NEW.
Some portions of my life where I ended up most satisfied came when I did not stride willingly outside the usual. One does not choose a car accident and injury but such a thing did propel me beyond my “c-zone”. The fear of my left arm never working again was scary as hell, but also enlightening. Or, the traumatic end of a marriage I did not want to be over was not a conscious choice. Yet, that happening pushed me out of my “comfort zone” and into dealing with old issues that still haunted me.
There is something to be said for routine, at least in some regards. It enables consistency and fosters discipline. In some ways routine gives life a semblance of order in an “If it isn’t broken, then don’t try to fix it” manner. As muscles atrophy with lack of use, so do emotions, feelings, and thoughts unless they are ‘exercised’ beyond their current capability.
Staying in a rut only insures it will get deeper and deeper. Enter Adventure, Risk, Experience and Chance. These keep me from growing stagnant, broaden my horizons and most of all teach me about myself. Not infrequently the lessons come not by choice. Sometimes the path is self chosen. In either case stepping outside my comfort zone educates me in a way I can not learn in any other manner.
In the last ten years life has moved into my most evolving period so far. So much has changed, but most of all it is “me” that is now different. The process has been scary. Exhilarating. And OK. Or least it always ends up that way. And right there is a treasured nugget of wisdom I am exceedingly grateful for: Given enough time, everything is OK.
We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.