COMFORT ZONES. They are insidious. My 13-year old daughter wrote this, and however much you like or dislike the thought, the fact that a 13-year old is thinking about this stuff is pretty next-level. Am I a proud dad? Of course. However....
THIS IS EXACTLY THE INTROSPECTION WE SHOULD BE DOING IN BUSINESS.
So without further editorialism… Here’s the un-edited essay- raw as it comes.
I was riding in Cinderella’s carriage. Suddenly, it was midnight.
After what point, does ‘good’, become a comfort zone? It was my friends who made me realize nothing good can last forever. I know, that may seem like a horrible thing to say about my friends, but trust me, it’s not. I only wish I’d learned that lesson sooner.
When you’re having a ‘good’ time, it’s easy to get lost in the fun, like losing track of time in a dream. As you wake up, you abruptly realize that you’ve lost your sense of direction. You’ve forgotten your initial goal. You’re stuck in a repeating dream. It’s an ordinary cycle of being comfortable, and the life you’ve become so accustomed to living has become obsolete. Some people may prefer to not to stray from their comfort zones.
I am not one of those people.
I'm surrounded by so many opportunities, but what use are they if I don’t take them? My teachers told me, ‘Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land upon the stars’. Of course, I understood what the words meant at the time, I just didn’t understand the importance of the concept. I had grown complacent with a cycle of ‘good’ that I didn’t want to move on from. It was the path of least resistance, with less risks. I didn’t need to be afraid of failing because I wasn’t putting myself out there. In other words, life was comfortable, easy even, and I didn’t want the easy to end. I didn’t want it to be midnight.
I began to assume that I didn’t need to try, and that things would always be ‘good’ regardless of how much or little effort I invested in them. I was living in a dream which hid me from the world. My friends, unintentionally, helped me to understand that I was caught in a routine. A routine that was ordinary; a life I don't want to live.
In the moment that the dream shattered, I vividly remember my panic, as my heart thudded against my ribs, rapidly. I was faced with the sharp reality… the scary reality. My friends had mentioned that they’d be applying for different high schools, and they all seemed to have some version of their future planned out. My vision of the future had been clouded by the oppressive shadow of my comfort zone. When had they all decided on their futures? It felt like time had sped by, leaving me behind, and I knew I’d have to work in order to catch up to it.
With a crease in my brow and a knot in my stomach, I began to wonder: was all the time I’d spent in my comfort zone a waste? How would I know when I was out of my comfort zone? In that adrenaline-filled moment I understood that discomfort was my guiding light. That I wouldn’t go anywhere in life if I only did what I felt safe with.
Realizing this, opened up a new reality for me. It was like waking up from a bad dream. I saw how both my entrepreneurial parents were taking a large leap to achieve their dreams. I grasped that it was midnight, and that I couldn’t go back in time. I needed to move on from the ‘good’, that was no longer my reality, like Cinderella’s fantasy vanished at the stroke of midnight. The only way to do this was to push myself, so I joined different clubs at school, I raised my hand in class at each new, uncomfortable moment, and I tried different activities outside of school. With each stretch, stress, and exertion, I grew and learned about myself.
So yeah, nothing ‘good’ can last forever, if I want to be unique. I’d become so used to being comfortable, that the idea of taking a risk had become scary. Why though? Because I’d been afraid to fail. I hadn’t wanted to lose the ‘good’ feeling of being comfortable. I look at the safety zones I have now with new clarity, while always walking on the boundary of comfortable, harboring the knowledge that I’ll have to step outside of Cinderella’s carriage every once in a while, and embrace the ‘uncomfortable’. As I continue my life’s adventure, I wonder what my new carriage will look like.
And how it will feel to step out and walk.”
What comfort zones are you in? Do you even recognize them? Pfft. Every time someone says the word ‘expert’ I cringe. Because is the thing one was good at yesterday, the thing that can be applied today? - Kurt