...how are you?
Look, we never actually had an opportunity to talk – and I hope this doesn’t make you in any way uncomfortable (a little pun to ease things up? No? Mmh, please bear with me...) – but I’ve realized a few things lately which I’ve been wanting share with you!
Where shall I start … well, let me tell you that I always knew that you were a thing, that you existed! That said, I never really noticed you. You were kind of omnipresent yet invisible to me. You influenced many of my decisions throughout my life, and I certainly felt your presence every time I faced a situation to which I responded with hesitation, but I didn’t recognize that it was you who made me feel that way.
Let me ask – wasn’t it you who discouraged me from approaching that girl I noticed the other night sitting alone at the bar? I think it was you. You said that this would not be “my style” to do that. Weren’t you also there when I asked my manager to present the slides he and I had worked on. Something made me feel insecure that moment. Again, I think it was you who argued that he could do a much better job.
I have to admit it took me some time, but eventually I got a pretty good read on you.
Not sure how much you know about yourself, but as your name indicates, you are quite literally a zone that surrounds me. A zone that decides over what makes me anxious and what doesn't. A zone whose borders only exist in my mind and whose area functions like a safe jetty in an ocean of uncertainty. Yes, you are a jetty on which I can walk back and forth without having to fear anything. Without falling into the water and drowning – that at least is what I tell myself will happen. Because anything you comprise, is something I’m easy with. Easy because it’s predictable and familiar. A safe path that I’ve walked on many times. Yet as comfortable as it seems to be, it’s also dull and far from challenging. So where is the fun?
Walking on this jetty that you have become only prevents me from jumping into that big ocean – but aren't we supposed to take risks? All the things that are located outside of you are things that I dread and fear to drown in. Things I shy away from and for which I can magically invent hundreds, if not even thousands of excuses – "it’s not my style," "others know it better," "I’m not supposed to do such things,” “I’m not ready for it.” Yet people say that everything that happens outside of you is the fun and magical stuff. People say that life begins at those borders I have created in my mind – the “edges” of you. They say that even though jumping of that jetty sounds dangerous, it’s the only way to access the things that will help me grow, learn and develop myself beyond what I always thought was possible. I want to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I feel that jumping and swimming in that ocean sounds fun.
But there is another thing they say about you, namely that you are not static but that you can both grow and shrink. And if I think about it, I can clearly see that his is true. I can see that you comprise things that I used to be afraid of. I remember that striking a conversation with strangers was something that would make me nervous. But now that’s something I do all the time. I used to be afraid of sharing my opinion in front of class... but that is now part of you as well. It’s kind of funny to see how small you were and how big you have grown. No matter how scared I used to be of those situations, I’m glad I included them in you by constantly pushing these boundaries and increasing your “surface area.” Will I feel the same way in a few years looking back on the things I’m afraid of today? I sincerely hope so!
As I said, I feel I got a pretty good read on you, but that’s not it. As much as I appreciate what you have become, I feel a tremendous obligation to grow you to so much more than what you are today. I feel that if I don’t, I would miss out on a lot of the excitement that life has to offer. I know that my life will only improve if I take the chances that seem impossible to me – chances that are not part of you today. After all, the fun of expanding you lies less in the comfort that I build but more in the discomfort that I lose. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And looking at the many things that still make me uncomfortable today, I realize this is going to be a long journey. But that’s exactly what I want.
I want to get into this magical state where people could throw literally anything at my and I would be able to tackle those challenges with no hesitation because I wouldn’t feel any discomfort. From approaching people to presenting in front of large crowds. From trying new experiences to understanding my annual tax return. From learning new skills to doing the things I know I'm not good at. The bigger I can grow you, the more stuff you will be able to deal with. And that’s exactly who I want to be as a person. Someone who is not afraid of anything, but able to tackle everything.
Comfort zone, sorry, but I kind of unmasked you.