On April 1st, while some were posting about pranks, I made a big leap of faith and permanently moved to a different island city, after 30+ years of staying in the same place. You can just imagine how my core city girl was shaken.
For years, I have agreed with Neale Donald Walsch when he said that “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. This quote has taken me to places and has made me grab opportunities that I never thought I would. Do you remember that Divergent movie quote “Don’t think, just jump”? I can say that’s how I have lived most of my life.
But first off, what is comfort zone? And second, why is it really important to end it?
For someone, comfort zone could be a stable job. It could also probably be a romantic relationship one has had for years, or maybe a city or a village where one has lived all his life. Whatever it is, comfort zone is where there’s safety or routine, where there’s zero to minimal effort required because most likely the skills needed to get the job done have been picked up to a T.
Since comfort zone is a safe haven, people always look at it as a place of no growth – somewhere wherein everything is complacent and possibly stagnant. It is said that this is where a person’s true potential is restrained and where opportunities are wasted away.
Not everyone, however, is as fearless as those who can take that big leap onto a non-familiar scene. Oftentimes, pressuring someone to change causes an individual to feel stressed, pressured, anxious and worst, never enough – just because he couldn’t seem to get out of his comfort zone.
If that’s the case, third, is there no other way to grow?
Recently, I’ve stumbled upon this article inspired by Rhonda Britten and what she said about comfort zones may resonate more to the cautious ones than to the dauntless souls.
“I’m not interested in people getting rid of their comfort zones,” she said. “In fact, you want to have the largest comfort zone possible — because the larger it is, the more masterful you feel in more areas of your life. When you have a large comfort zone, you can take risks that really shift you.”
Mind-blowing, don’t you think?
A number of articles, books, speeches, etc. have romanticized how staying in the comfort zone can be as bad. I think, however, that there’s a need to change perspective, especially if the thought of breaking free has been inducing sleepless nights. Not everyone is eager to leave where they are. I have met some individuals who feel satisfied and successful in their current state. On the contrary, I also agree that there are so many chances that could have been explored and so many skills and God-given talents that could have been cultivated had we only start to live fearlessly.
Come to think of this though, instead of forcing people to break out of their comfort zone, how about we try a different approach. We are always told to leave our so-called safe haven to allow our life to begin, but how about we honor and appreciate that space instead of hating it? It has taken good care of us after all. We have a life in it; it is where our sanity remains intact. Instead of looking at this space as a blackhole, what if we imagine it to be like the universe – vast, indefinite, sprinkled with unnamed stars and planets awaiting our discovery? One radio station ad went “only dead fish goes with the current, so go against the flow”, but how about we look at ourselves not as bodies on autopilot but instead spirits programmed to learn, to swim harmoniously, eager to stretch our comfort zone to the widest dimension possible?
All it needs perhaps is that bit of a courage to expand, not to step out.
On April 1st, I have extended my comfort zone and may have done so too much. I don’t want to see the change as an escape from my comfort zone, but merely an expansion until I find this new zone comfortable.
As we speak, I am stretching my comfort zone – where I find the pleasure of talking, coaching, helping and learning – to a wider audience whom I am uncertain whether my words will be accepted and will be allowed to influence; to a city that I barely know and have visited for only a couple of times; to a place that I’ve known for shy four years but has captured my heart and claimed a portion of it; to a culture far unusual from my fast-paced lifestyle.
Therefore (and my last question here), does life really begin at the end of the comfort zone?
Maybe yes, maybe no. People always say that we can only start living when we break free from the routinary, but perhaps we just need to look at it from a different viewpoint. Instead of breaking it, stretch it out and master each inch as we go. Maybe life doesn’t begin at the end of our comfort zone after all, maybe life gets even livelier as it glides smoothly to a never-ending stretch of our comfort zone.