Sunday, 15 November 2015

Comfort Zones

"People say that you should really do something out of your comfort zone. Why? I worked very hard to find my comfort zone. It was really rough and I can’t even get there that often. Takes all day and I gotta get off to a good start and do all the right things and avoid the right people and find all the right people and do all of these things to find my comfort zone. And then I’m supposed to do something outside of my - Fuck you! You do something outside your comfort zone. My comfort zone is hard-won….

"But then, that’s where popular culture and pop psych comes in and wants – and the shtick I was looking at last night was that like, so, if it’s ‘afraid’, then, 'You should do the things you’re afraid of’. Why? Why? I have felt quite enough fear. I don’t think I will benefit from more fear. I don’t think it’s the missing element in my life. I don’t think that’s the thing I need to be seeking out. 'Go to the places that scare you.’ No! I have carved out an awesome space in which I don’t have to visit the places that scare me. I don’t like them there. I’ve been there. I know more about them than you, person telling me to go to the places that scare me."

- John Darnielle, 2014-04-19 and 2014-04-20 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago.

I am not in my comfort zone.

I previously hinted that I have big scary changes coming up in my life. Let me state that I have very little sense of perspective, so it may be that what seems big and scary to me will seem like cake to you guys, but the fact is that I have handed my notice in at my main-earning job, working in a charity shop, to go back into education.

I worked at the charity shop for nearly five and a half years. I started as a volunteer, and it gave me confidence when I needed it. I'd been taken out of school and had been trying to educate myself at home for the previous five years, so I was very isolated and even more socially awkward than I am now. I have made some great friends through working there, and whilst I fully intend to keep in touch with everyone it makes me a little sad to be going. It's the end of an era in my life.

So I'm sad. And scared, because whilst I still have a part-time job at the local alt shop, I'm nonetheless going to be losing a large chunk of my income. Both my family and my boyfriend's family are planning to move house in the new year and I still don't know where I am actually going to live (although if I don't end up with a workable action plan a few friends have offered to let me couchsurf and mooch their shower and WiFi, which is nice). And I have to do awful things like speak to course co-ordinators and schedule exams and all sorts of alarming studenty thingamabobs.

The quote that I started this post with is something I bookmarked a while ago, when I was intending for this post to be more about why you shouldn't feel bad if you don't want to come out of your comfort zone, and that (as my own bucket list proves, I like to think) you can expand your range of experience with small, joyful, meaningful things instead of scaring yourself half to death by feeling the only way to give yourself a boost is to do something cray-cray and totally out of character.

Then I ended up cast adrift out of my own comfort zone, and feeling a bit butthurt about it. Now I have to start building a new comfort zone, which is annoying. Going back into education was a choice. (I first have to get my GCSEs, then I want to start training to become a library assistant.) The whole moving thing has been kind of thrust upon me by circumstances. I could deal with one scary thing. I was kind of excited about it, even. Two scary things has me stressing like a mo-fo.

Which I guess, if anything, kind of proves the point I was originally going to make. Comfort zones can actually be great. There's a difference, I feel, between being stuck in a rut (which I would have been, if I hadn't decided to try to get some qualifications and aim for a job that I feel suits who I am) and creating a space, an environment, a set of circumstances in which you feel nurtured and safe and happy. I'm not saying don't do anything with your life - gosh, no! Don't stagnate!

But don't feel bad if you don't want to swim with sharks or jump out of a plane or some shit like that, either. We all have different boundaries. You can expand your zone just as easily by trying a new flavour of coffee or going to a new bookshop, or getting a train to visit a museum in another city. What's the point in forcing yourself to do things you don't like? I've tried that. I've tried forcing myself to socialise when I didn't want to, and so on and so forth. It was just unpleasant and uncomfortable. I didn't feel I'd gained or learned.

I guess that as with most things, it all comes down to finding what works best for you. Some of you want to jump out of planes. Have fun with that. I'll be snuggling up on my giant fluffy beanbag, reading fantasy novels and ignoring my problems. :)


  1. Is it the same who said "comfort is the enemy of ambition"? What if comfort is the only thing I'm seeking out of life, would that mean I'm a lazy sht? Like you, this comfort zone is worked for and hard. Then again, maybe those who were born in comfort and never left it need something else.
    Both of us being a ball of stress, I'm sure you look at motivation quotes with questions like I do.
    "Do something scary!" So I can't sleep at night anymore?
    "Push yourself everyday!" So I'm too drained to lift a finger before the day is over?
    Etc, etc..
    So... Two big changes around the same time, eh? That's a big hit. But hey as long as you've got good people surrounding you, you'll always have a net to catch you if you fall. :)

    1. Exactly! Not that I don't have goals and dreams, but I would rather work around to them in my own way and enjoy the journey as much as I can, not scare the living crap out of myself because some self-help book thinks I should.
      Yeah, you're right. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. Leaving the house and going in public is leaving my comfort zone, but i have to do it, lol.

    Good luck with all your changes! It must be hard leaving a workplace where everyone knows you so well.

    1. Fair enough! lol. I'm not what you could call a people person either ;)

      Thank you! I went for a few drinks with colleagues on my last day and did get quite emotional, but they have left the door open for me to go back and do the book displays and things if I find I get some free time, so that's nice. And of course I'll keep in touch with everyone. But it feels weird... I don't know what I'm going to do on my first Sunday off in years! I'll have to make plans to go out for coffee so I'm not just floating around the house...

  3. great words <3 i actually like to play with my comfort zones SOMETIMES. not changing a lot at the same time though so maybe it does not even count in? good luck for your future!

    1. Thank you :)
      I don't have anything against changes, although like you not too many at one time... as long as it's in my OWN time not because some self-help guru thinks I'm too comfortable. I guess it's about knowing our own boundaries - sometimes we need to do scary things, for growth or simply because we don't have other options, but that doesn't mean it's not OK for the end goal to be relaxation, rest or contentment. I think it's easy to fall into the mentality that you always have to be doing MORE, the whole 'comfort is the death of ambition' deal, but I don't think there's anything shameful in just wanting to be comfortable and feel OK. For me at least, it's important to listen to myself and not push myself tooooo much just for the sake of 'going to the places that scare me', because in the long run if I take that approach I get stressed, go into meltdown and achieve less than I would have had I taken baby steps at my own pace, from a place of comfort.
      For me, life is about feeling good, and whilst sometimes that means I have to do the scary thing to get to a better place, I try to at least enjoy the journey and not continually freak myself out.


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