TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

The Comfort of Being Uncomfortable

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

9  January 2019

The truth about doing something that scares you.

I was talking to a lovely young man about some challenges he’s having in his relationship. He mentioned that a big reason he’s not taking any action is that he’s comfortable and we both sympathized at how much easier it is to stay comfortable than it is to shake things up and take action leading to change leading to something that we assume will be UNcomfortable.

Ziplining in Costa Rica. That was scary.

That got me thinking. I knew for a long time that I was unhappy in my marriage and that I wanted to leave, but it took me ages to divorce because I got comfortable being unhappy. Leaving for an unknown single life that might be worse seemed scarier than staying in a relationship where I knew I would be unhappy. I knew for a long time I wanted to travel the world full time, but I got comfortable with a reliable paycheck and health benefits and the ability to buy lots of stuff. So, the uncertainty of  knowing where money would come from made the risk of jumping ship too uncomfortable.

“By leaving pieces of my life where I was unhappy I had a very unexpected epiphany.”

When I decided to divorce and eventually leave my job, both things required me to give up what was comfortable in exchange for the unknown. That was  scary at the time. Staying stuck in the comfort of certainty (even when that means being unhappy) is always easier. I think, as humans, we naturally want to be comfortable and feel things are stable. By leaving pieces of my life where I was unhappy I had a very unexpected epiphany.

Kelpies in Scotland – rumor has it they ate children, pretty scary.

Photograph by Heather Markel

In both of my choices to taket big, bold, scary action everything changed. The stability and comfort I had gotten used to disappeared. Where my life had felt stagnant and unmoving, it suddenly felt fast and full of forward direction. But after all that movement I landed someplace new. Things stabilized. Even though I’m traveling the world now and not sure when I’ll stop, what awaits me and nothing is 100% reliable, I’ve become comfortable with this lifestyle.

What I’m learning is that the fear of being uncomfortable doesn’t make sense. The only discomfort comes in the short term and most of it is nothing like the horrific scenarios that play in our minds about taking the action that seems so big a risk. We will always adapt and create another zone of comfort. Ideally, that new comfort zone is now wrapped around people and circumtances that bring out your best and make you happy. If not, then when you decide the changes you want to make and the risks you want to take, you can take comfort that a little discomfort will lead you to a better comfort zone! 😉

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