What is comfort? According to any dictionary, it, amongst other definitions, is a state of ease and satisfaction; a feeling of relief or consolation. It is that place where we feel safe and most soothed, one that is perhaps hard to describe to others but you know what it is and what brings you there. Is it a state of mind; a place, a thing or perhaps all three? It is completely individualistic and among the billions of people on this planet, no two states of comfort will be exactly the same. For me it is all three. There is that comfort zone in my mind in which I can retreat to in times of need; there are the calming sights, sounds and scents I get from being anywhere around water, and there is that favorite old hoody which, after all these years, has more holes than material.
I like my comfort zone. I like its familiar sounds, scents and sights. I like that it envelops me with that same sense of coziness as my favorite old sweatshirt or torn jeans. I like that it provides a sense of safety by building a wall which guards watch over incessantly, protecting me from others and myself. It is the one thing I feel I have control over, even though I know full well that it is fear that actually keeps me within its protective confines. It is often the only place I can find relief from my afflictions, and some sense of solace.
Remaining in this place of contentment has its advantages. Since I feel I have some semblance of control here, I can convince myself that it is the only place of refuge to seek shelter from the mental storm that is my mind. I can persuade my thoughts to believe that this isolation that feeds my fear is the only way to stay safe; the only way to remain protected from both people and the threats of everyday life, and allows me to safely function within the little sheltered world I have created for myself. It allows me to survive, but fails to let me thrive.
Stepping out of my comfort zone brings forward a number of powerful emotions, with fear leading the charge, followed closely by toxic shame and self-criticism. It is the place where the “what if’s” kick in and my inner critic takes over in a twisted effort to protect me from what could happen outside of this shell I have so carefully constructed. After all, I could try something and fail miserably or I could risk putting myself out there and getting hurt again. With the possibility of danger looming at every corner, red flags get raised in my mind and make me want to retreat back into the safety of my comfort zone. This, however, does not allow for the true experiences of life’s pleasures, for as much as it protects me from harm, does it also protect me from good. Putting myself out there requires me to be vulnerable which, is an uncomfortable state for most people, not just me.
Life sometimes presents itself with an opportunity or two that are too good to pass on, and regardless of my fears and insecurities I have taken the chance. I have put myself intentionally into a situation in which I could very well fail; a situation that requires not only a step out of my comfort zone but a leap. I have weighed the benefits versus the negatives and although in my mind, they balance out quite evenly, I am now “out there”, at full risk, in the hopes that this journey will not only help my healing but others as well. I am taking classes online to become a Trauma Recovery Coach, and although I feel a bit out of my league as compared to my classmates, I hope that this could be the opportunity I have been waiting for; perhaps even the reason I have survived this long. It has been years since I have had the opportunity to further my education and perhaps this road could lead to that sense of meaningfulness that I have been searching for my whole life and although I am terrified and second guess my every decision, I have chosen to stick with it, no matter how quickly the road may become unpaved and bumpy. At least now, I am driving the car.