Go Exploring at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

How many cliche quotes have you heard that deal with stepping out of your comfort zone? Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re all right and you will never grow if you stay within your comfort zone. Ironically, I got the idea for this post when I saw an advertisement for a book about Swingers. That would be out of my comfort zone, but I also think that my marriage is happy and whole (and new), so that’s probably not going to help us in any way. I’m telling you this because this post isn’t going to be about encouraging you to look outside of your comfort zone for the things that help you, but rather for you to recognize that not everything outside of your comfort zone is a good option.

Picture yourself in the middle of a large square. At each edge of the square is something that is just slightly out of reach. The lines connecting these are things that will require more work. Things that require stepwise decisions. Things that you cannot just jump! to reach. Now, turn around, you see that each of the four corners and four lines follows this same pattern. You see that there are four corners which you can easily reach and four lines of choices which require incremental changes. You take one step towards one of the corners, and then another. With the third step you falter- do you decide to keep going or go back to the center? Do you continue trying to reach that thing you want, or do you abandon it altogether? Assuming you keep going, two steps later you start to smell something foul. It’s awful. Do you cover your nose and mouth or do you turn around? Let’s assume you keep going. Now that thing is just a few more steps away. But before you get there, you fall down and hurt yourself bad. Now you’ve been set back, regardless of if you keep going or if you turn around. You’ve just wasted your time. How does this make you feel?

So, realistically, whatever you are picturing could be a good thing or a bad thing. Do you feel like you want to keep going because this is something you really want, and it’s worth it? These set backs were just a part of life that you had to deal with and they happen to everybody. So you are human, and shit happened, and now it’s time to keep going. Or, do you want to keep going because you’ve been through so much? Are you tempted to go ahead because you put so much effort into it that now you just have to finish. Are you letting your stubbornness cloud your better judgement? You need to ask yourself both sets of questions.

In the event that you are heading towards something that really isn’t the best for you, you need to have the strength and knowledge to walk away. The point of this exercise was that even if something seems like it’s just so close, so easy, it may not be. You may find challenges along the way whether you anticipate them or not. Some of these challenges will make you a better person, and in many cases, this will be the outcome. However, that’s not universally true. Do yourself a favor and take your time to learn when things are good, great, okay, or bad. It will help you learn and grow.

Is there anything that you had to walk away from unexpectedly? How did it make you feel, and how did you use it for your own gain?


Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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