Beware The Comfort Zones

Comfort zones. They sound, well, comfortable. Like a big, fluffy bed with lots of pillows. And just like that big, fluffy bed with lots of pillows, if you crawl into it and just stay there, you atrophy. You forget how to do anything other than shift the pillows to be a little more confortable or click the channel changer. In short, spending too much time in comfort zones will reduce you to being incapable of function outside of them.

We all have our comfort zones. I’m in one right now, writing about my over-thought concepts of life and the best way to live it. I spend time here because I like this place, but I can’t stay here, conceptualizing the ideal “what if” lifestyle. To stay in such a comfort zone is to destroy yourself, but in a very nurturing and even loving, but still dysfunctional way. Pretty messed up, huh?

Comfort Zones need to be a haven you retreat to after spending the day OUTSIDE OF THEM. You must leave comfort zones regularly, knowing they are there, but still pushing out and exploring the unknown with the awareness that you can eventually go back there to relax and recharge. And then there is the really hard part of redefining the boundaries of the comfort zone, because as you grow as a person, having new experiences and obtaining different skills, your comfort zone grow with you. And still, you must push outside of it to continue to grow.

I’ll apply this to being a writer, because well… just because, OK? Say you write short stories and you like it. It’s easy or at least… comfortable… to write a short story, which has a level of simplicity to it and winds up nicely in the end. So, write that sort of story all your life and see what accomplishments you have to show for it: Short-lived publication in monthly or quarterly magazines? Maybe a piece makes it into some anthology where it’s obscured by other work and authors? Minor accolades somewhere for… whatever?

If you really are a writer, you owe it to yourself to ask: Is that really the extent of my writing aspirations? Or do you push out into the darkness, away from things familiar and explore more complex story-telling? Write in subjects or genres that interest you but are intimidating because they are new and unfamiliar territory?

Comfort Zones are sand traps that will mire us and suck us down if we aren’t aware of their deceptively benign power. Pushing out and doing new and yes… uncomfortable projects… is how we grow. And it never stops. Once you are comfortable with something you weren’t before, you need to push out even farther. This is growth. This is progress. Maybe, this is evolution.

I think this applies to everything in life: If we stop growing, we stop living. I hope you all chose to grow. As for me, I am trying, so there is still hope.

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2 thoughts on “Beware The Comfort Zones

  1. Yes and no. Sometimes the comfort zone comes after the ‘out there, lived that, been scorched, isn’t me, tried that’. That comfort zone may be the place you’re meant to be. It may be the very field or arena that is meant for your voice. But I agree, you won’t know that, until you have at least tried to stretch yourself in other areas. Comfort isn’t necesaarily a bad place to be. Fluff up my cushions, will you — and peel me a grape.

    Kate

    • Fair comments, Kate. I’d say that eventually, when a person has done enough that the comfort zone is pretty large, they can leverage that experience and decide what they want to do. I do think everyone needs to put themselves in new experiences that make them grow, no matter what. Water that doesn’t flow, stagnates.

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