Do certain words and language make you uncomfortable?
Do you avoid certain spaces because they’re scary, not because they’re physically unsafe, but emotionally, you’re worried about making a fool of yourself, or about looking silly, or dumb?
From the outside, a group or space, can seem daunting, unwelcoming, but if you step over the threshold, perhaps just a few feet past your comfort zone you might discover something incredible…
Now, I’m not condoning facing all of your fears, some fears and anxieties are necessary (like there’s no need to face a cougar or grizzly bear head on just to nip that fear in the butt) but seriously, sometimes, it is important to be emotionally safe too. But trying something that scares you like going to an event where you don’t know anyone, or just going for it and chalking something on a busy public sidewalk even though you’re scared or feel weird about it…
I think some of the most exciting learning happens when you take down your armour, step outside the safety nets and squishy couch cushion walls you’ve constructed. I know, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I struggle with this in my own life, I have comfort zones, trust me, but they are bigger and wider than they once were. Your comfort zones don’t stretch, they are not elastic bands or play dough that can be rolled out wider and wider. No, your comfort zones can grow but they grow with you. Like they’re an extension of you, living beings that start small and when you feed them new things they get taller and wider, and fuller. If you stay on the same diet, of work, friends, predictable social outings, your comfort zones won’t grow to big and strong. They will be feeble, and weak, a tiny circle of chalk around you-
Expand the chalk.
When we first started this project, Shiphrah and I talked a lot about feelings of shame and inadequacy and how those feelings hinder our conversations and our experiences. We often camp out in our comfort zones.
Through this project I have been widening my comfort zones. For instance, showing people anything I drew used to be so far outside my comfort zone, now I post weekly chalk drawings online for the world see… Talking about my feelings of shame, embarrassment, and inadequacy was once out my comfort zone, I’d avoid the topic- who’s embarrassed? … never…
But, stepping outside of your comfort zone isn’t something you have to do alone, or at least not always. Many of our comfort zones overlap. We can meet in the middle and take each other to the edges. Walk through the door hand in hand, up the stairs, take the elevator, or the escalator, together. I think it is important not only to challenge ourselves but to challenge and gently nudge and lead each other to places we have never been before.
Last week I chalked my new years resolutions, to recap: this year I hope to try things I have never tried, go places I have never gone, chalk things, do things, and learn things that scare me.
With an open heart, I will actively try to expand my comfort zones, by stepping away from them, throwing them a crumb, and seeing if they might one day follow me there.