Four million years of evolution has taught us to nurture and harmonize ourselves with that which serves us most. It’s no wonder then that we seek happiness, love and recognition, to name a few. Yet, above all, we seek comfort. During times of emotional distress it’s not uncommon to seek a comforting embrace and during times of mental strain we often reach for comfort food that feeds our soul.
The comfort zone is yet another.
Unlike the brevity of a comforting embrace or occasional binge moments with comfort food, most of us like to stay in the comfort zone indefinitely. Why? Staying there is akin to being a round peg in a round hole: snug and conventional. It’s similar to sitting on a train without knowledge of where it’s headed. It’s a floating bubble: mildly suffocating yet airy and lofty yet aimless. It’s where we bring temporary order to the chaos, keep our anxiety levels to an all-time low and exist harmoniously with our surroundings. It’s a safe haven where we’re happily oblivious yet certainly stagnant. We trick ourselves into making all those little changes except the big ones that are truly required.
I don’t imagine anything that is a part of your routine gives you anxiety anymore, for it’s a road that’s well travelled. It’s the unchartered territory that we’re afraid of the most. Think back to your first day of high school or your first day at work. The first, almost shaky steps you took toward your destination were unlike those on any other day in that surrounding. Why? Perhaps because as a well seasoned veteran in that space you were no longer venturing into the unknown. The first time that you attempt anything is you being a square peg in a round hole, giving yourself the permission to do something differently. Sure, you may not “fit in” sometimes and you most certainly won’t be welcomed by harmony at first for it’s only when you enter the eye of the storm that you find the calming center.
The storm, however, has a way of changing you, slowly yet surely.
The results are never guaranteed and the journey is always arduous, yet the person that braves the storm is almost never identical to the person who entered. The metamorphosis is often so subtle you don’t notice you’re changing until the battle is long won. Yet, we like our comfort zones far too much to make a change. We refuse to change because we would much rather ride comfortably to a lackluster destination than run tirelessly and sometimes stumble to an exciting destination.
You see, life isn’t radically different from a mathematical equation: instead of finding “x” we now seek that which maximizes happiness and minimizes pain, in turn only seeking a comfort zone. The premise of any equation lies in the meaning of the word therein: balance. The thing about a comfort zone is that there is no balance, there’s only an excess of old habits and routines that no longer propel us forward. In order to be propelled forward we must plant ourselves into situations that sometimes make us squirm.
While some attribute luck, destiny or the preordained path to success, others belong to the school of thought that preaches doing the best you can with what you have with where you’re at. Regardless of the bucket in which your ideology falls, breaking the pattern of stagnancy to leave ones comfort zone is imperative.
Be that square peg in a round hole. Redefine that which is already obsolete. The world is your playground and the time is now.