My Boyfriend and I were talking about me wearing a dress last night. I told him I would be way out of my comfort zone in a dress. It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time I wore a dress. We talked a little about why wearing a dress would be out of my comfort zone and he said something that stuck with me; he said “get uncomfortable”.
The concept isn’t new to me. We’ve all heard quotes regarding stepping outside of our comfort zone, but for whatever reason “get uncomfortable” resonated with me differently than other “comfort zone” quotes/phrases. “Get uncomfortable” feels more authentic. We call it a “comfort zone” because it’s safe, it’s familiar and anything outside of that zone makes us feel uncomfortable and we are afraid of feeling uncomfortable. We may as well call it a “safe zone” and anything outside of the safe zone is the fear zone.
I have spent an awful lot of time doing everything I can to stay within my comfort zone over the span of my life, thus far. And for what? Because I’m afraid. But what am I afraid of?
- Embarrassing myself (this is literally the first fear that came to mind. I find that interesting)
- Feeling sick (strange, I know)
These are some of the reasons/fears that keep me in my comfort zone. Some brief examples of each:
What if I say something during a discussion with colleagues and what I say doesn’t pertain to the discussion or what if nobody understands what I’m saying or what if what I’m saying doesn’t even matter?
What if I look terrible and out of place in a dress? What if I don’t know what to do with my hands because I have no pockets to put them in (my hands need something to do or some place to be; just standing with them at my side feels stupid)? What shoes should I wear? I would need a purse since I won’t have pockets and carrying a purse is a whole other comfort zone issue. Can I even pull off wearing a dress and/or carrying a purse? How will I look?
Any one of the above could cause me to feel embarrassed. So more often than not I keep my thoughts to myself rather than verbalizing them and I avoid wearing anything that could make me feel embarrassed to be wearing (I’m also uncomfortable wearing shorts. I hate my legs. A swimsuit? forget it! I will always wear shorts on the rare occasion I would need to wear a swimsuit).
What if I step out of my comfort zone to try something new and I fail miserably? What if I work hard to do it right, but it’s still not good enough? I’ve avoided residential (on-campus) classes in fear I wouldn’t be as good as everyone else in class, in fear of failing at something in front of everyone, in fear of having to give a presentation and completely missing the mark, in fear of not being smart enough. It’s easier to hide behind a computer in an online class than to have to face classmates after failing at something.
Again, more often than not I play it safe within my comfort zone and I do my best to stick to things I know as to not fail at trying something new or different. (This could also tie in with embarrassing myself).
I hate feeling rejected. It is one of the worst feelings, for me anyway.
I avoid attending yoga classes, writing groups, book clubs, AA and ACoA meetings, hiking groups, photography classes/groups, group meditation sessions, and many other groups/classes/sessions in fear that I won’t fit in. What if they don’t like me? What if no one talks to me? What if someone does talk to me? What if I’m not good enough?
That’s right, more often than not I stay in my comfort zone. When I do yoga, I do it alone in the comfort of my home. I hike by myself (short hikes). I self teach myself photography and go out on my own with my camera. I meditate in the exact same place I practice yoga. It’s not for a lack in desire to go out and be with people, to make connections and meet new people. It is a fear of not being good enough and being rejected that keeps me from doing things that I am passionate about. (This could also tie in with Embarrassing myself)
While most people who have a fear of flying fear the possibility of the plane crashing, my fear of flying is feeling sick or getting sick while flying. I’ve never even flown to know whether or not I would even get sick. No one ever said fears were logical, in fact most fears aren’t. I don’t like fair/carnival rides for this same reason (I have felt sick from a ride though, this one is a little more logical).
Anyone has gone out to eat with me more than twice can tell you what I will order off of almost any menu at any restaurant. It’ll either be a cheeseburger or fajita’s, unless I’m at Applebee’s then it will be their steak (I don’t like their burgers and they don’t have fajita’s). If I’m out for breakfast it’ll either be pancakes or french toast (this depends greatly on where I’m eating). I am kind of a picky eater and my palate is quite limited. I have a thing with the smell, taste, and texture of foods. I would love to try different foods but my fear of feeling/getting sick and/or gagging keeps me from trying new foods.
Once again, I stay in my comfort zone to avoid feeling/getting sick. No one likes to feel sick or get sick, but it has kept me from flying and from expanding my palate. To be clear, I’m not afraid to get sick or of feeling sick, this fear only pertains to flying and trying new foods. I think in large part it’s because I don’t want to get sick in front of others. (This one does tie into embarrassing myself)
Side note: KP, if you’re reading this, make a mental note that we should explore this embarrassing myself fear
I’m finding that my comfort zone isn’t really that comfortable or comforting. Sure it’s familiar, but that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable/comforting or really even safe for that matter. It’s been a hindrance, a place to hide from actually living. It’s kept me from being able be my true self and from outwardly living the life that lives inside of me. There is a version of me that lives in my heart and soul that I absolutely love and adore, but this insecure, fearful, stuck in my comfort zone version of me gets in the way. I’ve missed out on a lot of living, life, and experiences due to my fear of getting uncomfortable. I’m not going to do it anymore.
I’m going to do my best to heed my boyfriends advice and get uncomfortable. When I become aware that I am fearful of doing something I am going to lean into it rather than stay tucked away in my comfort zone. I want to face whatever fears get in the way of me being the version of myself that lives in my heart and soul. I want to stop fear from controlling my life so that I can live a full, happy, and healthy life. I have some pretty good things going for me in life right now and in part it’s because I leaned in to fear rather than avoiding it. I’ve got an amazing new job with a great company and I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man who loves and respects me just as I am and without judgement. I didn’t see this relationship coming, it took me by surprise, but I’m very happy. Who knew?
I’ve shown myself that it pays to get uncomfortable. I’m learning that when I do what feels right and is in my best interest, The Universe responds accordingly. More often than not, what feels right and what’s in my best interest is outside of my comfort zone and requires me to get uncomfortable.
I pledge, to myself, that I will make every effort to get uncomfortable when it is appropriate (not risking life or limb). I will do my best to lean into fear rather than to hide from it. I will have an awareness of and the foresight to only get uncomfortable when it is in my best interest and/or it is in the best interest of others. I will work towards being an active participant in my life and living my life without fear.
Here’s to living an uncomfortable life!
Thank you, My Love, for everything you knowingly and unknowingly do for me and give to me. You fill my heart with happiness.