By default we choose comfort over a better life, but we don’t think that is what we’re doing. We think we are choosing the better life. Why? We don’t know what or how the “better life” will unfold, but we do at least know what is somewhat okay.
For example, we may have gathered up the gumption to let go of a partner because the person we were becoming or the life that was evolving was shrinking or limiting or unhealthy in a myriad of ways, but after a few weeks or months or maybe even a few years, we think, well, at least I know how it will unfold. At least I know.
Another example is the job that doesn’t excite us, but it pays decently or enough and at least we know we have a job; we have a rhythm, even if that rhythm includes complaining more than we are cheering.
Yet another, our weight is not what we know it should or could be, but we are comfortable with our daily eating and exercise habits. We like the food we are eating, and yes, the food we eat brings comfort, even if we know it doesn’t bring us the best health for our body and mind.
Let me share two more examples: the location on this planet we call home. Yes, we can make wherever we are home, but maybe it is too much or too little. Too unkempt or too parochial. Too noisy or unstimulating. But, we think to ourselves, at least we know how the days will unfold, who we will run into in the streets, how to drive on the left or right side of the road, how much are property taxes will be each month or how much our rent will be from month to month.
Lastly, our attitude. The words we utter, the thoughts we allow to pop up unsupervised often become a default, and because we know how to navigate in our world with these thoughts, we keep allowing them to have their way. Even if we know we may be a bit too snarky, sarcastic, cynical or negative about the likelihood of unknowns, at least we won’t be made a fool. At least those around us know what to expect, and we know what to expect of their reaction.
Since it is the holiday season, I would like to say, and feel free to join me in doing so, bah humbug! Bah humbug to each of these comforts and most certainly more that I could share that limit us, that stand in the way of living a better life that allows us to experience reaching our fullest potential.
How can we step out of the comfort zone of each of these? By giving ourselves permission to feel awkward.
As many of you know who virtually came along with me on my weeklong trip to England either via Instagram, Facebook or here on the blog, the trip was full of beautiful experiences. And many of these experiences were opportunities to feel awkward.
Never before had I rented a car in a foreign country, let alone drove on the left side of the road and in the car. Never before had I traveled internationally during the holiday season, never before had I ventured outside of the metropolis of London.
Now for those of you who may have had the opportunity to do any or all of these opportunities, they may seem simple, easy, and/or nothing to stress one’s self about. But to others who have never done them, the response may be quite different. Why? Because we see the comfortable life, the good life, the better life, through our own experience.
Some readers who have always wanted to get out of the city and explore the countryside may be daunted by the idea of having to drive in a foreign country in order to spend time in a lovely rustic cottage, or others may dismiss international travel at all, but the truth is, if the only reason you don’t do what you wish to do, long to do, is because it will be uncomfortable and full of unknowns, most likely putting you in a position to feel and appear very awkward, that is actually the sign you need to see. Because that is precisely the new venture that will open your world up and reveal to you a better and more amazing way of life that you couldn’t have imagined if you only kept dreaming.
While my experiences in England are timely for me and with the fresh feeling of feeling awkward (I drove quite slow on the narrow, beautiful country farm-lined roads), this is just one example of how giving yourself permission to feel awkward is the right choice.
Let’s go back to the list of examples I talked about at the top of the post.
Relationships. If you are used to being in a relationship, having a partner, and after months or years of being together, you are no longer in each others’ lives, for some it will be awkward to be alone. I would argue for most of us it will be awkward depending upon how long we’ve been with our partner. But again, allow yourself to feel the awkwardness. Revel in it, dance it, laugh about it, journal about it and then step into it and eventually you will step through it. After time passes, you will look back on your old journal entries, recognize the discomfort you were feeling, but also see that such feelings, while natural, were simply part of the process of growing, of expanding into the life you wanted to live, were capable of living, even though there were many unknowns in front of you.
Yes, it would have been easy for me to say, nope, I cannot go to England, stay in the dream country cottage I discovered (more on the details of this cottage on December 15) during the holidays because it isn’t fair to leave my dogs with a dog sitter, who travels alone on the holidays and I don’t want to worry about driving as the English. But instead I said yes. I said yes, and as someone who does know the experience of things not going as we might have hoped, I was truly fortunate for my plans to unfold beautifully and even exceed my expectations.
And that is the gift of giving yourself permission to feel awkward: you discover how beautiful the world can be in reality and not just in your dreams, you discover strengths and preferences you may not have been sure about regarding yourself, you begin to trust people and the world again (or at least a little bit more after considerable vetting – doing your homework truly does pay off), and you build a deeper appreciation for life and the clarity of the life you want to build.
So whether you are allowing yourself to feel awkward trying a new sport, taking a more challenging fitness class, stepping into a new career, meeting a new person or trying to become more comfortable with your own company, know that feeling awkward as you begin the journey is a brilliant sign that you doing exactly what you should.
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