As you can probably tell, I have a pretty large comfort zone. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw the border of my comfort zone. Yeah – it’s that big.
But it wasn’t always so.
When I was a child I had the comfort zone the size of a postage stamp. I had to stand on it on one toe, like an uncoordinated ballerina trying to learn to go on pointe – and failing miserably.
I was timid and shy. I was afraid of everything.
Then one day I decided to do something uncomfortable. I ran for 8th grade student council secretary. It didn’t occur to me that I might not win. I have no idea where that hubris came from. I figured, at that point, that I had just as good a chance as anybody else. I made posters. I gave a speech. I’d like to say I shook hands and kissed babies…but hey, I was only 13.
And something amazing happened. I lost the election. I mean, I cataclysmically lost that election. I had fewer supporters than New Coke. And I was less popular than a sweater at a bikini convention.
So how was that amazing, you ask? It was amazing because I learned that I could step outside of my comfort zone, lose…and still be breathing. Still go to school every day. Still be me. That may seem like a huge life revelation for a shy young girl…and really it’s only in hindsight that I am able to articulate it. But it had changed me. After that, instead of a postage stamp…I could put my foot down on the whole envelope.
And it didn’t end there.
I took another step and tried out for the marching band. Another step and I was auditioning for plays in high school. Another step and I was applying for a job. And college. Singing in front of hundreds of people. Giving speeches in public.
What I learned is that comfort zones are like concentric circles. A step outside doesn’t just stretch the zone to fit that footstep…it increases it exponentially. Where before you had a three-foot circle, now you have a five-foot circle, then an eight, then before you know it – you can’t see the edge of the zone because it’s so big.
I recently saw the “selfie of all selfies” where a travel blogger took his pic from atop the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. He was so high up that you could see the curvature of the earth. Now that’s a comfort zone.
Some people aren’t comfortable being seen without hair and makeup. Or nice clothes. Me? I think there are more important things in the world.
I have a bedhead comfort zone. And you can’t see that from a statue.
Your bedheaded blogger,