Post by Karen Charlton
Comfort is a funny thing. We think we want it, but when we do finally become comfortable, we become protective of it, like a small dog sitting atop a large, fluffy cushion. Being comfortable becomes the base level from which we live, and any intrusion on our comfort feels like a threat.
But the thing with comfort is, if you don’t get uncomfortable every now and then, you actually stop growing as a person. You retrograde. Your mind shrinks, like a piece of dried fruit.
I have a tendency to get comfortable; ridiculously, stupidly, “I could watch this TV and eat this bucket of ice cream for the rest of my life!” comfortable. I feel this is a topic of which I am suitably qualified to speak.
The most significant disruption to one’s comfort is that nagging feeling that there’s something else, something special that you could be doing in your life, but you’re not. Waves you could be riding: artwork you could be creating: pet lions you could be reading the newspaper to.
Sure, you have reasons for not pursuing this special life. We all have our reasons: your favourite show is on, the weather’s a bit blerg, it’s Wednesday. The conditions are not ideal. Guess what? They never will be. There are so many shows, so many Wednesdays, so much blerg weather.
If you can get past the comfort and the excuses for a moment – shrug off your slanket and put your spoon down – you might wonder why aren’t you doing this wonderful thing with your life? In all likelihood, you are the thing stopping yourself. Your mind, your heart, the repressive comfy blanket you’ve knitted for yourself.
When you hear a scritch-scratch noise at the door of opportunity, you need to answer it.
This past year I set myself the task of pursuing the things I always wanted to do, namely become a professional writer. I enrolled in a writing diploma in the city. I did a 10 minute oral presentation to a class of 25, despite spending the bulk of my post-pubescent life avoiding that very thing. I went inside the State Library even though I had no idea whether I was allowed to or not (good news: libraries are for everybody, even weirdos who think too much!!). I wrote things I wanted to say, even though I wasn’t entirely sure if I could or should or if anyone would listen. And then I submitted those pieces to some editors, and from that managed to land some publications.
Not bad for someone who is essentially a housewife.
What I learned was that the things I’m most afraid of are the things I really want to do. Each time I did one of these scary things, I grew a little bit. And when things didn’t work out as I had hoped (because that happened quite a bit too), it taught me that perhaps those things weren’t right for me. Knock backs allowed me to focus on the things that felt like a good fit.
In doing all of these (and more!) uncomfortable things, I stretched. But the biggest most wonderful thing was that my comfort zone stretched too. I know myself a little better from the experience. I also realised I don’t know myself as well as I thought. Rather than thinking I know who I am and putting myself in a tidy box like a taxidermy exhibit, I can surprise myself. I am far more animated than my couch-dwelling, comfort-loving-self would ever have you believe.
You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you never ask the question in the first place. That is the first – and scariest – step out of the cosy little place you’ve made for yourself.
Is there something you want to do but you’ve never given it a try?