Familiarity can be a dangerous thing. Not all the time, there’s something comforting about returning to the familiar. Even when it’s a bad experience, it can help to reinforce why we’ve made some of the changes that we have. The reason I think it is dangerous is because we might not make beneficial changes due to being comfortable where we are.
In the past, I’ve let people stick around my life longer than I probably should have. I’ve also made up reasons not to do the thing or make the change because I was pretty comfy where I was. We also get comfortable with feeling a certain way, and changing our thought patterns becomes difficult. It wasn’t until it was impossible for my current situation to stay the same that I even started to make changes.
Maybe something is comfortable for a reason. We’ve explored every facet and are not faced with uncertainty. At the same time, we are not being presented with a challenge, or growth, or opportunity. Things feel comfortable because there’s nothing new there. It’s a great break from the overstimulation of existing, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be the norm. There’s something exhilarating about trying something new. Maybe we’re supposed to treat discomfort with a “proceed with caution” attitude rather than “don’t do that.” Knowledge is obtained through exploration. Think about the wheel, fire, science, and medicine. Curiosity and dabbling outside the known universe brought these things to us. Now I’m not a time traveller, but I doubt the unknown universe falls into anyone’s comfort zone.
Some of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life have been those that force me out of my bubble. But they’re also situations where I sat and made excuses for a long time before actually doing anything about them. Through this, I’ve learned that leaving your comfort zone is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Sometimes I walk away from something thinking: “You know that really wasn’t for me.” I don’t consider these experiences to be a waste of time. I look towards all the time and energy I’m going to save in the future by never having to wonder about that again. One the most valuable opportunities to learn about ourselves as people is when we try new things. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I’d never taken my first photograph, or written my first blog post or had my first conversation with certain people. Opportunity does not come knocking very often, it needs to be seized.
Why is something comfortable? Is that comfort worth the sacrifice? Is it making you happy? Is it helping or hindering your progress? Everything comes at a cost, including doing nothing. Sometimes in staying comfortable we are sacrificing our potential.