2020 Made Me Fall in Love with Being Uncomfortable
Oh 2020, you will be remembered but not missed.
First, let’s begin by taking a moment to stop and thank last year for pushing us out of our comfort zone–or should I say slamming us out!? If you really take a look at what 2020 did to (and for) us, it is life altering in many ways. It was really a year of pondering and letting go.
My 2020 started off standing on a beach in the Dominican Republic, at peace, while Covid was hovering but still far away. By March I was catapulted like most into disbelief and uncertainty. I was floored further by the images of thousands stranded at borders, ripped apart from their families. Millions of lives were dealing with a head in the sand attitude about something virtually invisible but deadly nevertheless. Meanwhile Bangladesh, The Maldives, and other island nations were drowning in rising waters. Unable to help, I felt hopeless. I sent money and I talked with my Australian friends who assured me it wasn’t the whole country that was on fire . . . but still. A big hole had been blown in my happiness balloon.
I got dark . . . in my mood, my outlook, my day-to-day attitude. It lasted about a week, and then I ended my little pity party and got to work. I had been living in my comfort zone for about a year and had become complacent while viewing life through my rose-colored glasses and its narrow lens. Sure, it was really comfortable behind those glasses and I wore them well. I partied wearing them, entertained friends using them, and spent way too much money seeing the world behind them.
It was around April when I realized that I didn’t want to be comfortable all of the time. I wanted to push into those places where I felt vulnerable and raw and naked. Those are the places and times when I become stronger and more resilient. I know I must embrace my darkness if I want to recognize the light. I must accept feeling uncomfortable and be willing to challenge my assumptions–and I must learn more about compassion and wake up to what is really going on around me.
Here is what I learned by not living in my comfort zone and stepping into my dark shadowy place.
- Embrace your darkness – Embrace everything that makes you feel sadness, fear, uncertainty…the list goes on. I suggest sitting in it and exploring it. I have a one-minute rule where I sit in it and ask questions for at least a minute. Why do I feel sad, scared, uncertain? Is there anything that I can do about it right now? If the answer is yes, then I immediately do it. If not, I release it aloud. I let it go and ask myself if “this is truly mine”. Is this sense of dread really mine or is it being imposed on me from someone else or from an outside source? I find that this helps me release darkness fairly quickly.
- Know what your comfort zone is – I’m not suggesting that you constantly leave your comfort zone but that you at least take a break from it periodically. If you are doing the same thing every day, then that has become your comfort place. Switch it up. Take a different route, try a different food, listen to a different genre of music, do something you have never done or tried (be safe and legal of course). Even the smallest of steps are huge strides. At the end of my work day, I head back into my comfort zone by mid-afternoon and enjoy a salty pleasure–Turkish dry, soft olives and roasted salted almonds with a glass of wine, coconut water (or my favorite) plain water. Healthy comfort foods do exist, but this time is really about me getting back into being cozy.
- Take on a Learning Challenge – Each day is a new opportunity to learn something new–a new language, a creative hobby, or a subject to research. Be curious. If you are learning you are removing yourself from your comfort zone entering (most likely) dark shadowy places. What have you wondered about but never looked into? An island you dream of visiting? The meaning of a phrase or moral of a story in a book? Go there, learn it, be it, do it.
Most importantly, don’t ignore those shadowy, dark places that are part of you. Lean into them, be curious, and make them work for you. And when you need comfort, have something that satisfies you to the max and lets you know you are amazing–and that everything in that moment and for that day is going to be just fine.