I Love My Comfort Zone
Lately, I have seen a lot of posts in the social networks that invite readers to leave their own comfort zone to expand their own horizons.
As I am making a conscious choice, who I follow on the social networks, the authors are mostly people whose work I greatly appreciate. I also understand the position (and agree) that it is important to expand one’s own horizons, and that leaving the familiar pathways can feel as if leaving one’s comfort zone.
Still, I never felt so comfortable with this expression “leaving the comfort zone”. And for a good reason. That is why today I would simply like to show a different perspective. This does not mean that I find the other authors are wrong. On the contrary. From their experience the encouragement to leave the comfort zone is quite justified. My experience is simply another one. In the end, we are all different individuals and therefore sometimes different things work for us. That is why I find it important to share the different approaches, because this way we can inspire each other and support each other in finding the path that is best for each of us.
Here a wee bit from my life. This will help the readers to understand why my focus, to maintain a healthy balance, is not on leaving my comfort zone, but on its creation and design.
I have been highly sensitive and empathic since I was born. Of course, then these terms did not even exist yet, or they were completely differently imprinted. For a highly sensitive person (HSP) as well as for an empath, the life of a normal-sensitive person can appear rather loud. Constantly one is confronted with feelings and thought patterns that need to be sorted out (even though the people from whom these feelings and thought patterns come often cannot sort them out for themselves), constantly one has to discern what belongs to you and what to the others and on top of it one perceives a lot of things that mostly stay unnoticed to normally sensitive people. As a child, this often is particularly difficult.
The kindergarten and school days were very demanding for me. My last kindergarten teacher and also my class teacher in primary school took my high sensitivity as a reason to bully me. This, by the way, is by no means a rare phenomenon, and I have often experienced the same from the parents of my classmates. Otherness just scares some people. Even at the young age of seven years, I had already understood this. Unlike most adults around me.
This does not sound like comfort zone, does it? – Well, it was not.
In high school I fortunately had it easier with the teachers; with most of them, anyway. Conversely, I found it difficult to deal with the schoolmates – and vice versa. Until the advanced level, for most of them I probably was merely odd, however, some also bullied me.
During the advanced level, I found more acceptance in school, but I never really belonged.
All this did not exactly mean comfort zone for me, also.
So it went on.
To ride the crowded bus every day before and after school was horror. I did it anyway. I participated in dance classes, despite extreme shyness and made many friends. Going out was difficult for me because, if one goes, for example, to the club or to the pub, one is surrounded by a lot of external influences. Nevertheless, I pursued it excessively and also had a lot of fun with it. I also regularly went to big concerts – often even on my own, despite my big problems, to deal with crowds.
All this, however, for me never had anything to do with leaving my comfort zone.
I managed all this only because I successfully maintained a space for myself, an inner space in which I could feel well; an inner comfort zone. This has made it possible for me to go out and experience adventures.
This is still true today. However, I now also know what happens when I leave this inner comfort zone or even give it up. Then I break, get depressed and often also otherwise ill.
So if someone tells me I should leave my comfort zone, then this is the same for me, as prompting me to thrust myself into illness.
I am currently living in a situation where, for the last 17 months, I have been threatened by someone from outside the family who is located in the immediate neighborhood. This also goes along with defamation, with harassment through odours, noise, and, of course, with the fact that I cannot walk alone in the stairwell due to the threat, nor can I remain alone in the apartment. An attorney is hired, the police can only do something if the threat leads to a criminal offense, the psycho-social service could only do something if said threatening person would voluntarily go into treatment – although a similar prehistory from the earlier life of that person is known, the other neighbours all stick their heads in the sand – for, as we all know, everyone shall love thyself and not thy neighbour and the landlord – a large housing company – insists with flimsy excuses on inactivity.
So, an outer comfort zone currently does virtually not exist for me – again. What is left is merely the inner comfort zone. If I gave this up, I probably would not have any more will to live.
Comfort has something to do with convenience and solace. While it is certainly unhealthy to always pull back and be constantly lazy, a life without any convenience and solace is not exactly desirable, either.
Besides, who says that we should not be comfortable in life? How is “comfortable” defined, anyway?
For me it was challenging to go to concerts alone, but not uncomfortable. The freedom which I have experienced through it, I even experienced as extremely convenient. For me it is now and then quite comfortable to relax on the couch. But if I do it all day, it becomes quite uncomfortable. I get back pain, the limbs fall asleep painfully and usually I then also get some headaches. So, it is much more comfortable for me to stay in balance between movement and rest. And this balance is comfort for me.
With all the prompting to step out of the comfort zone I find it appropriate to take a careful look. As I explained above, I generally agree that it is important to broaden one’s horizons. And it would seem that this is what this whole discussion is about. But I also notice how these slogans can lead people astray and into an unhealthy balance, where one feels that they now have to question everything that feels comfortable and familiar in life. While this may be just the right approach for a healthy life for some, I believe it would be unhealthy for most people.
People are not all the same. Therefore, one cannot impose one method on all of us.
This post wants to share a different view on this discussion. It does not claim to generally point out the one right path to the reader. That is something everyone can only recognise for themselves. This post simply wants to show those who have experiences similar to mine that they are neither alone nor wrong. Nor are those for whom it is important to once in a while step out of what they experience as comfort zone. This post merely wants to provide an additional perspective.
How do you experience your comfort zone? Is it more like a refuge for you or do you experience it as a prison? Or do you perhaps have a completely different view, your very own view on these things?
Are you ready to shine a bright light of awareness on the path of beingness, today?