Ah, the comfort zone. You are what a cup of tea is to the soul on a brisk winter’s evening. You’re exactly what you say you are. You’re comfortable. And whilst cosy memories of cusping a hot drink are ever so pleasant, I gotta tell ya Mr. Comfort Zone… you’re a little boring.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We all love comfortable. I love comfortable. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that I’ve always been one of Mr. Comfort Zone’s biggest fans. But when unwanted change presented itself in my life earlier this year, I had to learn to embrace the uncomfortable.
And waving au revoir to Mr. Comfort Zone was an extremely difficult thing to do. After all, who doesn’t love sitting down with a nice cuppa and watching life pass by? It’s only when the waiter (aka life) stumbles by, knocks your table over, and burns your lap with spilt coffee in the process, do you begin to wake up and, quite literally, smell the coffee.
Until something forces you out of your safety net, you don’t realise how sheltered that time spent being comfortable was. And even if you do realise, you might still remain stagnant, uncertain of the leaps and bounds necessary to experience life in all of its intensity. So when I decided to give myself the freedom to do things that were unnerving, daunting, and quite frankly, stupid at times, my eyes were opened to life’s kaleidoscope of luminous colours that had previously been veiled under a cloak of fear.
When reflecting on the past 4 years of my life, I now realise that though I was content, my life was lacking in colour; the world was merely black and white. And with an unwanted new-found singledom, the colour had drained further. Life transitioned from its more permanent bleakness instead to sinking moments painted in a dull and hopeless grey.
Refusing to allow my life to be defined by the lifeless heartache I felt, I started doing things I wouldn’t usually do, making decisions I wouldn’t usually make – ready to embrace life in blazing colour. In the midst of uttering typical mantras to myself: ‘you will only regret the things you didn’t do’, ‘take chances because you may not see tomorrow’ and of course, the most profound of all: ‘yolo,’ I had reached the end of my comfort zone. This is where the exciting journey of self-exploration and self-discovery truly began. After all, there’s nothing like experiencing your first heartbreak that makes you say ‘yolo’ to everything life throws at you afterwards.
During this period of new adventures, new connections and new experiences, I thought about how, without realising, we often live vicariously through others. In the act of watching others from afar, we remain disconnected from our own immediate reality. The problem is that when we’re satisfied on the sidelines, absorbed in sitting back watching others do life, we fail to realise just how much we are missing out on. I thought I was content with the life I had imagined up: finish uni, train to be a teacher, earn a comfortable living, maybe move to France when I’m older and ‘more ready.’ However, this was a reality I curated for myself because it was the safer option. It posed less risk, less challenge. It was conventional. And most of all, it was comfortable.
Until I was quite literally catapulted from my seat on the sidelines, I was oblivious to how much the world had to offer. Undergoing a spectrum of unforeseen challenges meant the entire understanding of my present and future had been shifted upside down, morphing into something unrecognisable, so it was time to define a new understanding of the world beyond its surface level. In order to do so, I had to metaphorically smash the warm cup of coffee and instead take a big swig of vodka. In doing so, I realised that the comfort zone is such a narrow space, and the world becomes so much bigger when you escape.
I also realised that I never really liked coffee much in the first place either. It was just comfortable.
Are you really happy or just really comfortable?
Taking on this mindset allowed some of my proudest achievements and best memories to manifest this year. I started to write poetry, and ended up reading it to a large audience in Shoreditch. I began to take my blog seriously, meaning having to take outfit shots in public, and no longer from the comfort of my own room or secluded spaces. If you ask my fellow blogging babe, she will tell you just how nervous I was the first time we took photos together. But I pushed through my fears, and now I’ll stand in the middle of Winter Wonderland just to get those schmoney shots. We even ended up doing an all-nighter in London once after a day of shooting, running into fancy restaurants with skyline views of the city and turning Waterloo station into a playground at 3am. I spent my 21st birthday solo-travelling for a week around Toulouse and Paris, eating croissants by the Seine and chatting to cute French guys (okay, so monsieur Hugo turned out to be a creepy pick-up artist, but yolo, right?)
2017 marked the end of playing the role of the passive observer, instead launching me straight onto the centre stage: I was doing life rather than letting life happen to me. And it was the best decision I could’ve made. So that’s why we’re leaving comfort zones in 2017, and allowing 2018 to be the year of breaking boundaries, figuring out our desires, and making scary, and sometimes stupid, decisions every once in a while.
Enjoying a cosy hot drink and watching the world go by now and again is grand, but maybe try to order a different drink next time. Or maybe flirt with the waiter. Pay for someone else’s drink even (only if you got that schmoney, of course). After all, leaving the comfort zone is about deciding to do things differently, challenging the mundane, embracing the new, and defying the comforts and normalities of everyday life.
And if all else fails, just slip a bit of vodka into the cup. Yolo.