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I used to think I knew a lot about breaking out of my comfort zone. In my three decades on this earth, I recovered from an eating disorder. I did a lot of positive things that didn’t conform to society’s rules. I started a new career. I took leaps of faith. I encouraged others to leave their own comfort zones in order to embrace new adventures that would help them leave behind what was holding them back.
I considered myself well versed in breaking out of the box, letting go of fear, and constantly challenging myself. Then my husband of six years committed suicide, and I became a widow at almost 30.
My comfort zone was stripped away.
I had no choice but to leap forward every single day. There was no net to fall into if the leap was scary. I had to grieve, learn, accept, and adapt. And to be honest, I’m still doing it.
A new beginning presented itself to me, and though it was not my choice, I chose to welcome it. I now know for certain what I always felt to be true: we learn so much by leaving our comfort zones behind.
There are lessons here. There is a life-altering action at work in all of us who choose to leave our comfort zones. As humans, we only know the joy if we know the sorrow. We only know true satisfaction if we know the difficult work. If we turn off our feelings, we don’t experience sorrow… but we don’t experience happiness either. We miss out. If we numb ourselves, if we stop living, we throw away the gift of life. We get comfortable, and we stop truly living.
If being comfortable is all you know, you may think you are happy.
The adventure of leaving your comfort zone, however, is one that has the power to show you true resilience, honesty, bravery, and real contentment. The thing is, you won’t know unless you give it a try.
Sometimes the decision to leave our comfort zones is made for us. Sometimes we make the leap ourselves. Either way, we learn. And learning promotes living.
Imagine your comfort zone as a private jet, luxurious seats with plenty of room and cozy blankets. There is sunlight coming in through windows, not harshly… just softly and warmly. There is beauty all around–pillows, cold beverages, warm beverages, anything you could ever want, perhaps paintings or your favorites movies or TV shows on a screen. There might be a library of books or good friends to make you laugh. Maybe there are things to occupy your creativity like art supplies, pens and paper, computers, a gym, etc. Whatever you like to do, it’s there in your private jet. You’re comfortable. You’re happy.
But if you choose to strap on a parachute and jump from your jet of comfort, you might have the adventure of your life. You might be scared. Maybe you’ll be terrified. After all, who knows what’s waiting out there, down there, outside of your comfortable private jet that has everything you know and love? The unknown is alarming.
Why would you willingly choose to leave what you know?
But why not?
Giving in forever to the fear of the unknown means you could be missing out.
If you never jump, you’ll never know. If you never jump, you’ll never learn. If you never learn, you’ll never live.
When you leap, when you fall, when you fly, you might hit the ground running, detach your parachute and look around to see blissfully amazing surroundings. Maybe you’ll find yourself in the middle of a meadow, flowers and grass all around for miles, wild horses in the distance, and a tree nearby to sit beneath… or to climb. Perhaps there is a stone wall that leads to a town or in the other direction, a path to more solitude and quiet.
Maybe new friends come rushing through the flowers, smiling and leading you to a brook or a river or a lake. Maybe there are splendors you’ve never seen, jokes you’ve never heard, joy you’ve never felt. Perhaps there is a cottage in the meadow, waiting with new smells and offers and experiences you’ve never had. Maybe there is a boat on its way down the river, begging you to come on board.
There are so many possibilities you might never have seen, you might never have known, if you hadn’t jumped from your safe comfort zone.
Your comfort zone may be a beautiful place, full of what you think you need. There is nothing wrong with a comfort zone. But a comfort zone is not the whole world. It is not all life has to offer you. You can venture out. You will be okay. You will learn. You will live. And you will be better for it.
There are so many possibilities you might never see, you might never know, if you don’t jump from your safe comfort zone. Be brave.
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Arielle is an MSW, LSW, writer, and blogger. She is a Hospice Social Worker, widow, stepmomma, and wife. She has professional experience with eating disorders, domestic violence, grief and loss. She loves her work, her family, her cats, and her dog! She most often writes about grief, loss, end of life issues, and suicide. Gratitude fuels her every move.
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