If I’ve learned nothing else this year, it’s that comfort zones are over-rated. Unwilling or unable to grow, to move forward, sometimes we choose to stay ‘stuck’ in our comfort zones. And while they may be comfortable, they’re rarely good for us. Why? Another term for comfort zone is ‘rut’ – and who wants to be stuck in a rut?
Now, I’m not talking about giving up your favorite old flannel PJs or the hot chocolate you must have when it’s cold outside, I’m talking about actions and behaviors that you keep doing that no longer serve you.
Confession time: I have been on crutches for four months now and throughout that time I have used them as an excuse not to live my life. Invitation to a party? I can’t go; I’m on crutches. Chance to go out with girlfriends? That won’t work for me – I’ve still got this cast on. Choosing to have oatmeal every day for dinner because it’s quick and easy? Well, it’s not like I can cook!
On and on, the excuses have been flying quickly and easily off my tongue. But the truth of the matter is: it’s not that I couldn’t go to those places or that I can’t cook a nice, warm soothing soup for myself; I chose not to because I didn’t want to. Because it was more comfortable to stay at home and eat oatmeal.
At first, that was fine. Comforting. And then I saw a close friend. “You look gaunt,” she said. “I’m worried about you.” Gaunt? “What are you eating?” Um… oatmeal? “How often do you get out of the house?” Um… only when I absolutely have to?
As much as she begged and pleaded, I didn’t want to listen. I was fine – trapped in my comfort zone – thank you, very much.
And then the Universe sent a miracle my way in the form of another friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. He was only going to be in town for two days and who knows when he’d be back. If I wanted to see him – which I did – I was going to have to get out of the house.
He sensed my struggle. The first day he came to me. I cooked for him – turns out, crutches don’t really get in the way of that. We talked and laughed for hours, and I remembered. This is what’s it’s like to have a good time, to step out of your comfort zone a little.
The second day he asked me out to lunch. Out – as in outside of my house – with another friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I went. And then to dinner with even more people – some I didn’t even know. And I had fun. I did fine. Me and my crutches.
And that’s when I realized something. I was back. I was me again. Yes, I’m still on crutches, but the Mary that doesn’t let a little thing like crutches stop her is back. The woman who doesn’t make excuses and goes after what she wants has come out of hiding. The goddess within has re-emerged.
I saw the friend who told me I looked gaunt the last time I saw her a few days ago. “What happened to you? You look fabulous!” Yep. I feel fabulous too. Sometimes getting outside your comfort zone will do that to you.
But I think my friend who was in town for a mere two days summed it up best when he said:
“To truly ignite your passion, you have to be willing to take a risk. Be it emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical. By opening yourself up to a new experience, you will find yourself.”
And that’s just it. In using my crutches as an excuse so I could stay in my comfort zone, I lost myself, my passion for life.