What is your comfort zone? What pushes you to the edge of that zone? How often do you test that limit? There is something I don't understand about comfort levels. I think that right outside of that comfort bubble is not an all consuming threat to your existence. Instead I think it is a zone where possibilities are presented in ways you could never have previously known. It's much akin to a land not traveled. One which has bountiful prospects at the cost of slight discomfort until the point you can live with it. There is no pain, only perceived pain. It's a small thing, it truly is, to put yourself out there. To stand upon that ledge and look down is perhaps the scariest thing you have ever experienced, but tell me it is not the most beautiful, and I will show you a live person who has not lived.
How can you know that the moment you push that comfort bubble, leap out of that comfort zone, that you will not have your life altering epiphany? That you will not find your perfect someone, you will not find your saving grace? Push the envelope, forget the norm and stand right at the edge of comfort staring back at it. It feels good.
Real world examples. This goes for anything, but allow me to indulge in a short story. I am behind a camera. My lens is usually capturing what I see around me, and rarely ever capturing me. That is comfortable. What is uncomfortable is being on the other side of that lens. Recently I had a project for a class and I wanted to make a video to present my group's topic instead of a simple boring power point. (I will talk about it more in a future blog when I am done with it.) Although I had support for my idea from my group members, when it came down to it, no one wanted to be in front of the camera. My first reaction was that of panic. I realized that the only way this was going to be completed is for me to be in front of the camera. So on one hand I had my comfort level, and on the other hand I had not only my grade, but the grade of the rest of my group. When weighed, those counting on me seemed a bit more important than my comfort zone and so I had no choice. I went in front of that camera nervous and unsure. What I found was not unimaginable pain, but instead exhilarating fun. I cannot explain it any other way but "fun." It made me realize that I really enjoy doing this. I actually don't mind being in front of the camera. Sure, I am still nervous in front of it, I don't really like how I look, but all that is superficial. I can deal with it far better than I thought I could.
But my story doesn't end there. In fact it includes more characters than just my spot light stealing performance. My objective in the video was to interview people on a topic. Many people turned away without even trying when I confronted them. Some of them though actually took a brave step and answered my questions. Most, if not all, started very nervous for reasons I can completely understand as I have mentioned previously. But throughout my 5 minute interview I saw a complete change in them. It was like ice melting, if you watched close enough you could see the slow change in their demeanor from absolute discomfort and raw embarrassment to having fun answering questions about a topic they had an opinion about.
So what is my point? My point is that all of these people, myself included, pushed themselves to leave that comfort zone, however temporarily, and found it didn't have such a foul taste. To me this is the bravest, and one of the most beautiful things life has to offer. What is it called? Embarrassment, shame, fear, discomfort? I don't know what the word for it is but I say embrace it. It is debilitating to keep these feelings at bay. They are there and they always will be. So make peace with them no matter what you are doing or who you are. Are you camera shy? Become an actor. Do you fear math? Go grab a pencil. (I just remembered I have 2 math assignments) Are you in the closet? Create a song about it, come out with a bang.
Sometimes it just doesn't work out. I understand that. You get in front of that camera and you really just don't like it. But in doing so you probably found something you're good at. Or perhaps you figured out you like directing instead. Whatever it is, I promise that living just slightly outside your comfort zone is rewarding in some way. I am not encouraging anyone to any extreme here, everything must be done within reason. But is it so unreasonable to turn our enemies into our friends? I think not. So from now on I will face those fears, that painful discomfort, and I will do so gladly. I hope everyone can, it's a really colorful world outside that comfort zone. Are you, "Comfortably Numb?"