The Comfort Zone Problem
Being Comfortable is Nice and...Safe?
If you're a New York City dweller like me or reside in a busy urban area, you may know a thing or two about being in your own comfort zone. I say NYC mainly because this city is notorious for being a frantic playground for smart careerists. Being comfortable, frankly, feels nice. It's a great thing to know that sometimes we don't have to go that extra mile. That being patient is better than just doing it. That we really can wait until just the right time to take the leap.
But then, comfortable is also safe. And thus, it equates somehow to seeing the glass as perpetually half empty. It is a life of remaining single and playing the everlasting NY scene vs. putting ourselves out there and finding the love of our lives (or the safety of that perfect marriage with a mortgage, puppies and children). The difference between the things we always do vs. the things we never seem to get around to. Volunteering at a soup kitchen on a Saturday morning or staying in to play video games (yet again) in our pj's. Traveling the globe, meeting new people and immersing ourselves in other cultures, people and places. We don't have the time now, but we'll eventually get to it. Yeah, eventually. It's easier to live in our safety zone.
A friend recently published the above link on their Facebook page. Do yourself a favor and watch the video. It's quite remarkable. When I first saw it, I thought to myself, "Ah, herein lies the problem." It reminded me of a wonderful conversation I recently had at a conference. I was chatting with someone on the subject of pursuing your dreams, choosing happiness, and the struggle to maintain long-lasting friendships. The conversation was so intense and fulfilling because I felt as though this person was speaking my language and understood exactly where I was coming from. I have been on an incredible journey over the last few years, pursuing my ultimate dreams of success, with each year passing adding to that journey's success. More opportunity = more growth. More knowledge of who I am, and understanding of my essence.
And what I've come to understand is that this growth and understanding - the long-term development of myself and my career - has not come without compromise or hurdles along the way. It is the change that develops us, and it certainly doesn't involve being in a 24/7 comfort zone. Not every month is a "golden basket" of opportunities. While work has been plentiful, the friendships, on the contrary, are not always consistently perfect or stable. And change becomes necessary in order for progress to happen.
Several years ago, I was in a job I hated with many friends to hang out with - party with, drink with, go to the movies with. We were all in sort of similar situations, complacent with our current jobs, not entirely happy with where things were and hoping ultimately for something better. While I knew I needed to make a difference in my own life, it was still a kind of a comfort zone, as everyone I knew was in somewhat of the same situation. Change was not going to come about by moping around in a stagnant place. So I broke away, and left that comfortable place of dormancy.
When I started actively pursuing my voiceover career, I began to gradually see many of my close friends fade away. We began to live different lives, and this break in routine caused me to see the world differently. Initially thinking it was something personal, I was second guessing many of my friendships. Why were so many people drifting away? Where was my comfort zone? What's the saying? "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans..." And mine certainly has.
I see this all the time. People become trapped in energy-wasting comfort zones, paying off grad school debt and taking the road often travelled into conventional landscapes. Ask someone how they are and chances are they'll respond by saying they're "busy." This answer is a very American response - especially in a city like New York, where the majority of people favor being busy over being productive. Because there is a difference. We fear risk-taking because it requires a different thought process. We fear things like the loss of our jobs. Our friendships. Our possessions. But do we fear the loss of our passions? Our time. Our energies? Which things are more important to us, and where should we be concentrating our thoughts?
In early 2011, I was developing that new thought process and veering off into an unfamiliar path when I discovered what my true passion was. When I really sat down and evaluated my life. I just had to create a plan and execute it. And as every year built upon itself and I began to feel more fulfilled and happier, more relationships tended to fade into the background of this new life. Now, with my voiceover career at an all-time high, and with "booth" life being an often times isolated one, I'm spending a lot more time alone and less in social situations, but this is my choice now, and one I've developed with passionate intent. I have a fabulous core group of three or four close friends with whom I regularly spend time, but it's certainly not the same as it once was in that systematic "comfort zone" I once lived so anxiously inside.
The place where life consisted of The American Dream. The Comfort Zone. The safety net where people's opinions mattered more than my ideals about my own life. I lived there for too long, and seemingly had everything going for me - top job at a top movie studio, tons of friends, hot dates in a hot city...
But get this: I wasn't happy then.
Moral of the story: Break out of your comfort zone. Find all that life has to offer.
Collective Evolution. “What's Your Biggest Regret?" Video. Collective Evolution. 2 Feb 2016 21 Feb 2016