Comfort zones and discomfort zones

The last time I posted on this blog, it was the start of the final semester of uni. A lot has changed since then. Some of those changes were inevitable, and yet my approach was that of extreme reluctance. We get so used to our surroundings that we do not want to change.

I had suddenly landed into working in a completely unfamiliar industry that I knew nothing about. This immersion into the deep end of the pool left me feeling like I was drowning. And it felt like nobody was reaching out a hand to rescue, or even teach me how to save myself. We all start our careers in a situation like that. If you haven't, just watch the first season of Grey's Anatomy for an idea.  

Part of me didn't want to leave university at all. Although a completed degree should be celebrated as an achievement, it meant leaving the most familiar comfortable environment. Sometimes we thrive in an organisation by gaining roles, relationships, and achievements. University was the best manifestation of that ideal. Uni had wrapped me up in cotton wool, so warm and cosy. It was like that cold winter morning when the quilt is so warm, you don't want to ever get out.  


Rarely did I realise this institutionalised comfort was like Stockholm Syndrome, or Shawshank Redemption. We're held captive at these places until the end of the course. It is possible to switch colleges, but that is complicated and should not be done too many times. Unlike others there, my gravitation to that campus was like Truman at the start of the Truman Show. This sanctuary was too encouraging for me to reach that stage most have. I never truly wanted to burst out of that controlled bubble.  


Of course the end was a given. We finish our courses, and we move on to the "real world." Having seen enough of the real world already, it wasn't easy to return to this 'world.' This world was filled with uncertainty.


Since available work at the last job had fizzled out, it was time to return to the world of job-hunting. The employment world is not easy for some. The working world may be filled with rejection, uncertainty, competition, and ambition. But that is reality. We could stay in our insulated bubbles – or instead reach out and embrace the rest of the world. There is a time when we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  


We all have a comfort zone we need to leap out of. Let’s call it leaping into the discomfort zone. It is vital to keep the variety of life by stepping out of that zone no matter how comfortable it may be. Many visitors starting at Toastmasters are out of their comfort zones the second they step on stage. A new social situation like public speaking or a crowded party could put us in this zone. Some of us become too settled in a social circle that we struggle to say goodbye when there is no longer enough in common. Our community neighbourhood area may feel like the only possible comfortable place to live. My stay in Coffs Harbour took me right into the discomfort zone. It was independent, new, and presented learning curves. Whatever your comfort zone is, I dare you to take the leap into the discomfort zone. You just might gain something from it.



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