Friday, January 28, 2011

Creeping Out of Our Comfort Zones

After spending most of the last week in bed, I'm very familiar with a "Comfort Zone."  It's nice and cozy and warm, and I don't have to push myself to do anything.  That's one of the few attractions of being "under the weather," people don't expect a whole lot out of you.  You do what you can, but if you want to get back into bed and go back to sleep, no one's going to hold it against you, and it will make you feel better.

The problem with comfort zones is that they're comfortable.  It's like your bed or your favorite chair; it's all broken in, the sharp edges are dulled, and it's a perfect fit.  It's so great there that once you get in, you don't want to get out.

So, what's wrong with that?  Why can't we just stay in our comfort zones?

Well, you can if you want to.  The problem is that most people are comfortable in their comfort zones only because they're afraid to go anywhere else.  "I'll just stay here," they say, "in my little corner.  The world can pass me by, opportunities can be lost, but that's OK, because if I stay here, I'm safe."

Ah, safety!  It's so seductive!  Haven't we all grown up with "it's for safety," the safety patrol, even the proverbial parental cry, "Be Safe!"?  So, safety feels great, but don't you remember when you were a kid and your mom wouldn't let you do something because it "might not be safe"?  I have a friend whose mother wouldn't get her a 10 speed bike because the wheels were narrow and if she rode it just so it might get caught in a sewer grate.  Yikes!  The odds of a kid doing that are slim to negligible.  And if it did happen, what would be the result?  A scraped elbow or knee? 

The point is that sometimes being "safe" isn't a good thing.  Think about it, if people only did things that were "safe" we'd still be eating cold raw meat and living in caves, (and that's not particularly safe, come to think of it!).

Pulling yourself out of that nice comfy zone is a hard thing to do, and the longer you sit there the harder it gets.  The thought of putting yourself "out there" is terrifying, and all you can think about is the bad things that could happen.

Don't I know it!  I can't tell you how many times I've had opportunities that I haven't taken because I was scared.  I still regret when I was too shy to be the lead kid in the kindergarten Halloween parade, or the time I passed on being Mary in the church Christmas pageant, or the time I was asked to help teach a bunch of guys to quilt because they wanted to make memorial quilts for their friends, (yes, that would be the famous AIDS quilt!). 

I wonder how my doing even one of those 3 things could have changed my life. There's no point in dwelling on the past, but do I want to risk losing what could be an interesting part of my future?  In my case, no!

So, today I stepped out of my comfort zone and began running my serialized fictional story, "A Piece of Work" on http://www.quiltlit.com/.  It was scary pushing that "publish post" button, but if I want to move forward I have to be willing to take the risk of making a fool out of myself.

I hope that you'll all think a bit about your comfort zones and make small efforts to break free.  No one expects anyone to go out and go crazy, but if you see an opportunity to widen your horizons, grab it.  Even the attempt is a victory.

I may not make the "end zone" with my foray into fiction, but heck, it was worth a shot.

Now, go "zone out!"

Susan

1 comment:

Deb said...

Bravo for you Susan!!