I wrote this quite a while ago back on another blog, but I had to go looking for it because I kept coming across these memes on Facebook and it got me thinking about this again. Here it is as I wrote it many years ago:
Comfort Zone: I had to look that up because I wasn’t familiar with the concept. I might have misplaced my comfort zone. I’m not sure I ever had one. This is something I often see online or mentioned in high-powered, self-help books and seminars:
“Ya gotta step out of your comfort zone or nothing will ever change in your life!”
“Nothing great was ever accomplished inside your comfort zone!”
“If you want to achieve incredible things, you HAVE to get out of your comfort zone!”
Where exactly IS my comfort zone? I’d like to claim this piece of real estate. In fact, I’d like to vacation there on a semi-permanent basis. I’ve been searching for it for the past 35 years, but I never have located it. I don’t remember ever being there, even as a kid. The only thing comfortable or stable about my life has been how often it changes.
Two weeks after I was born in Colorado, my family moved out of state. Florida was a two-year engagement, New York was an eight or nine-year gig, but part one was in the city for a while, part two was on Long Island for five years and part three was across town for another two. I did an 18-month stint in Virginia followed by several years in California. From 1977 to 2008 I lived in seven different California locations. I never saw my comfort zone there or in the desert heat of ARIDzona where we were for 5.5yrs and, so far, it hasn’t turned up in the 10 months we’ve been in the deep freezer of Indiana either.
I was always the oddball in school. I was the new kid on the block who liked to read, was very shy and didn’t know why the guy at Dairy Queen on the corner was the butt of all the jokes. I was the one who didn’t know how to get around school, couldn’t find her way to the mall or understand the latest fad. I wore the wrong jeans (which I called dungarees), had the wrong purse (which I called a pocketbook) and didn’t even know how to pronounce the names of the streets (SePULveda which my family pronounced SepulVEda for the first few months in southern California). Try using the “wrong” terms or pronunciation with teens and see how comforted you feel.
In college and just afterward, this shy gal had several sales jobs. I sold real estate, pay telephones, videos and teddy bears. Sometimes I had three jobs, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as comfortable. It was a bit scary and not only because I had to talk to people. Some of the people I had to talk to were in a part of town that was downright scary and the business owners didn’t easily give me any credibility. Ever try to convince a Middle Eastern male business owner to take you seriously when you’re a 5′ nuthin’ female? Not comfortable in the least.
I did time: 8 years in customer service. Got off for good behavior. LOL If you think that job is easy, remember how many people call customer service because they are HAPPY. But all that aside, a co-worker, for reasons unknown to mankind, decided I was a threat to her moving up in the company and took it upon herself to trash my work and reputation to the entire office. She stood up in the middle of the office and yelled at me about how I was doing a horrible job and how I was trying to keep her from getting promoted. Management came out and, instead of stopping her, they just watched. Later on, we were both called into the office where they told me that I was on thin ice there. ME?
She began putting notes in all my files accusing me of poor performance and talking about me to all the staff. I was eventually told they wanted to demote me. I told them they could fire me, but I wouldn’t take a demotion. I never retaliated as God told me to do what was right.
Later on, I left the company because I started my own business and could work from home and be with my daughter. A year or so later, I went back to visit a friend there and was told that the gal who trashed me had a nervous breakdown in the ladies room after they all realized what she’d been doing. Trust me, that wasn’t my comfort zone either.
I made many decisions that either weren’t very popular or were not easily understood. I was challenged to prove why I homeschooled and the fact that it wasn’t illegal or immoral. I was the only Christian in my family. Not a comfortable topic of conversation. In addition, I had to justify why I had my own business instead of getting a secure job with a steady paycheck like most people did. I worked my tail off at my business and built it up to where I was earning $3000/month only to have the bottom fall out of the economy in 2008 and virtually wipe out my income. Comfort zone? I think not!
You all know how our first year here in NW Indiana went. If you don’t, you can read it here. The weather outside is frightful and thunderstorms are not delightful…or comforting.
Then there is the matter of dealing with chronic illness. I know my readers are intimately familiar with this one! If you don’t know my story, you can listen to my video here. Chronic illness often leads us out of our comfort zone, if we ever had one. We struggle to do things most people take for granted. I talked more about this in my recent post, Looking Back: I Used to Run.
So all this to say, I think many of us who struggle with chronic illness or other chronic issues can’t find our comfort zone, but we wish we could! We wish we were comfortable, but the pain is too severe. We wish we could live at ease, but we struggle just to get through the day. How many of you would like to find your comfort zone? What would you do there?
For many years I was frustrated that I wasn’t afforded a comfort zone until I realized that God is my comfort zone. He strengthens those of us without a comfort zone. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28, Sounds like a good comfort zone to me. How about you?