Yesterday, I had two experiences involving people ‘living’ in comfort zones. The first was a conversation with a young lady at work. She had received a massive bouquet of flowers from her male friend. Course being curious I inquired as to what the occasion was for such a gift. It was then she revealed the person who sent it is one she considers a friend but has no romantic feelings for, despite dating him for 3 months. She explained the situation, mentioning he was 18 years older, had children and was well set in life. However, she wanted to explore more of life, wasn’t ready to take on kids and felt the age difference was a hindrance. She mentioned she had told him, several times, during their dating life, she just wanted to be friends. But, he kept ‘hinting’ and referring to her as his ‘girlfriend.’ She was torn between staying with him because he treated her like a lady or being firm with her feelings and hurting him.
I also met with friends I worked with at my last job. We met to celebrate one of them leaving the company due to retirement. We had a ball catching up, reminiscing and telling about future plans. However, most of the conversation was about the company. The main reason I left was the treatment I was receiving, the moral of the environment and the nonexistence of support from fellow employees. I know no workplace is perfect, but this one became a journey of dragging my feet every Sunday night, bemoaning the fact of facing whatever ‘hell’ would arise Monday morning and wondering what days the owner would have a raging tantrum. Not surprisingly, my friends related things were getting worse. When I asked how the owners were dealing with things, my friends told me they were on vacation again! My friends expressed extreme frustration and deep feelings of not being appreciated.
Both incidents involved people ‘stuck’ in situations. Yet, despite their words of wanting to change, wanting to escape, wanting to move on, all of them had excuses to back up why they weren’t ready or willing to leave the comfort zone they had grown accustomed to. Ever been there?
For me, the two biggest comfort zone places I had were my marriage and my last job. Interestingly enough, I was just like the women above, I talked the talk but wasn’t willing to walk it. It was only when I got angry at the way I was being treated, the alleged infidelity I discovered and the stress accumulating, I made a move. And never did I look back nor doubt I was doing the right thing nor regret my decision to move out of where I was at and move on.
I know leaving the comfort zone is tremendously scary. I also know the comfort zone is devious and will trick all into thinking the ‘illusion’ of its security is a place not to leave. But that is the point, the comfort zone is entirely made up of hallucinations comprised of false hopes things will get better, dreams that end up being shattered by persistent doubts, and hatred of change, risk and being daring. One thing I know for sure, if one does not take a leap of faith to fly out of the comfort zone, one’s life will be stagnant, stress filled, and blanketed with negativity.
As for my advice to all the above women? I told the first if she knew what path she wanted to take and that did not include her current friend in the picture, she needed to be firm in telling him her feelings and move on. Either way, if she told him now or waited to prolong the relationship, he was going to be hurt. I left her with the thought to trust herself because she knew the right thing to do to.
I encouraged my friends to begin looking for other jobs. I suggested some fabulous websites I used when I was searching. I also told them of tips and techniques to find a job where they could develop not only their work skills but themselves. I reiterated how valuable and worthy they were as people. And how they deserved to be a in workplace that honored those qualities.
The comfort zone is just that, comfortable. But, in that comfort lies a mediocre life, settling for less, being a carbon copy, fear, just getting by, doubt, procrastination and not living life out loud. Yes, stopping to detour is awkward, intimidating, scary as hell!!! Yet, how can one truly be the person they ought to be or live the life they were meant to be if one doesn’t push past the comfort zone’s web of lies and discover how awesome living outside really is?
I am living outside. And believe me, it was worth the trials, the challenges, the tribulations, the fear and the anxiety. Matter of fact, it is way better than I could have ever imagined. That is a promise.
So next time you find yourself hunkering down under the quilt of comfort, remember it is eluding you and tricking you into believing its way is the best way. I am here to tell you to run as fast as you can, face the unknown, breath the fresh air of courage and leap. No matter what, your wings will open and you will soar to heights so fantastic, you will never reside in the comfort zone again.