I will hold my hands up and admit that I will avoid situations that make me uncomfortable at all costs. If I am invited to an event I don’t want to go to, I will find an excuse to get me out of it. Similarly, if there is someone I don’t want to talk to for whatever reason, I’ll make sure that our paths don’t cross.
But over the last six months or so, I’ve slowly realised that those awkward, uncomfortable situations are actually needed.
It is, of course, natural to not want to put yourself in circumstances that might make your pulse quicken or your palms sweat but what if by putting ourselves in these situations, we are actually helping ourselves grow and achieve? Keeping yourself comfortable at all times, apart from being rather nice, isn’t actually doing much else to benefit you in the long term. Actively placing yourself in an environment you aren’t used to or that can feel a bit unsettling is forcing you to stretch skills you might not have realised that you possessed such as control and resilience.
By doing so, you are pushing against barriers that you yourself have created and are discovering how much more you are capable of. Change and growth do not happen by remaining in your comfort zone. They happen by thrusting yourself into a situation which requires you to at times, expose a certain vulnerability.
There are situations whereby something, say a difficult task at work, has been forced on me which, although at first left me panicky and full of self-doubt, at the end of it I am always left in awe that my brain and body were able to work its way through it. ‘See,’ my brain will point out, ‘you didn’t combust. You did it!’
Controversially, millennials are often referred to as ‘generation snowflake.’ Why? Because we are seen as so delicate that we melt under pressure. That we have been raised protected from life’s harsh realities, smothered in bubble wrap. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an insulting term and not necessarily one of real truth but it might go some way in accounting for why we are so afraid to take a more difficult path.
When a challenge is presented to you, in whatever form, don’t bury your head in the ground. Step right into it. Choose fight over flight. Sure, it might feel uncomfortable for a minute or so but this will not last because your clever mind is learning how to respond and thrive in this new environment you have put it in. Strength is created by having endured discomfort and difficult times, not by hiding from it. You are doing yourself a disservice by not challenging yourself, simply out of fear of discomfort.
If you want change in your life, you have to be prepared to be uncomfortable. Because it is not until you step out of your comfort zone that shit gets real. By always choosing comfort, the safe and easy option, you risk merely existing, not living. By reframing discomfort as something you can use as a positive, you are widening your potential in all areas of your life, whether that be job opportunities, a new hobby or making friends.
Note: I must stress that when I talk about stepping out of your comfort zone in this blog post, I do not mean putting yourself in a dangerous situation or one that causes you serious upset.
If you liked this post, why not read: The Reality of Imposter Syndrome