Saturday, November 13, 2021

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone // 30 Day Challenge

Aren't comfort zones wonderful? The familiarity of the ground walked upon, the coziness and comfiness of a space created. I love my comfort zone! I reach for the familiar often, seeking the routine and finding ways to ground myself into something pleasant, peaceful, known, and delightfully ordinary. I don't mind stepping out of my zone once in a while, but only on my terms. You know, once I've romanticized it enough. :) Surely adventures are needed now and again. 

What I didn't realize was how tight and small my zone had become over the last two years. With limited opportunity to socialize or experience anything new, I became extremely reliant on my family and my home as the primary source of my comfort, and let's be honest, my happiness. A forced move in July and new schedules in September, I found myself uncoiling from the tight nest I created, and gosh, it was uncomfortable. I didn't have the needed time (or the proper amount of time that I thought was needed) in order to digest and settle into all of that new. It felt very unromantic, way too sudden, and I was left grasping at the ghost of a zone long gone. 

One of my discomforts lead me out of the house almost on a daily basis. I know this was such a small thing, but to me it felt huge. Adding the need to be somewhere at a specific time and that I was driving, something that I still consider myself a beginner at, it all felt like a gigantic hurdle. My rough mountain to conquer. Luckily, I have very wise people in my life who held me, told me to grieve, then reminded me to find ways to let the negative go and figure out how to embrace and welcome the new and the now. I knew I couldn't go backwards, so I started looking for ways to get me excited about moving forwards. 

Being familiar with how quickly time flies, I decided to trick myself and lean on something that would bless me later on. I turned my struggle into a photo challenge. Every day, for 30 days, I took a photo in the location of where I had to go. It became a game for my youngest and I to play. What would catch our eye? Quick, let's take a picture! During those thirty days, I focused on obtaining that picture. I knew that I had to do my part, I needed to get to that specific location, and looking out for something to photograph became a wonderful motivator on the days I felt way too nervous to do my part.
I also documented a couple of the little thoughts I had during specific days. I remember thinking how nervous I was on day five, then immediately wondered if I would always be so nervous. This made me pay attention to the other thoughts that scrambled their way to centre stage.

Day 1 : It's time to start and I have no choice to opt out. Eek. 
Day 5 : I don't understand how I am more nervous today than I was on day one! 
Day 10 : Loving how familiar the drive route is getting, not loving how crazy other drivers are.
Day 14: Found some little libraries along our drive. Time to start a new tradition of checking them out. 
Day 15 : They say that it takes fifteen days to make a new habit, doesn't quite feel like a habit yet.
Day 20 : I am realizing that I am not as nervous starting the car as I used to be. 
Day 27 : Really looking forward to the drive. 
Day 29 : A new, little challenge today, but my success makes me happy. 
Day 30 : The day came and has ended very uneventfully, which makes me extremely happy. 

Overall, I am so pleased with how this project has turned out. Deep down I knew that I would get to the point where I'd be able to stare at all these photos and be blessed by them. On a more surface level, however, I was so thankful I had something to focus on when it all felt overwhelming. This project became something to push me forward creativity when my attitude was making it out to be a giant chore. I am definitely not at the point where it feels like a new habit or where it feels like my comfort zone has expanded to include this task. Yet, I can see how it could, soon, become my new normal. That thought excites me! 

What I have learned is that I don't want to become so tightly wound up in my comfort zone again. I want to be able to appreciate routines and schedules and the feeling of normalcy, but without the dependancy on such. There was too much strain and restlessness and fear, and I love the thought of being more adaptable. To take each day as it comes. I will be forever learning, I am sure, but knowing that I am able to redirect some stress and turn it into something beautiful makes me feel hopeful for the things to come. 

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