They say growth is impossible unless you leave your comfort zone, and I support this. But here’s the thing: in order for that growth to happen, don’t you need a comfort zone from which to launch?
Some days — okay, a lot of days — it feels like my comfort zone went AWOL the day I became a mother. Totally new identity, new schedule, rearranged priorities, redefined relationships. Not much “comfort” going on, unless you count my now-beloved slippers that I originally bought to wear in the hospital during labor (they ended up staying in my bag that day).
I’m mostly okay with this. I realize that this is what I signed up for, and I certainly wouldn’t trade the experience of motherhood for anything in the world. There are moments when the love I feel for my baby is so ferocious that it shakes me. And we have occasionally managed to establish what feels like — miracle — a routine. Which borders on comfortable, at least until that routine disintegrates and morphs into something else soon thereafter.
But there are other days when I look around and ask myself, “Is this the new normal? That is, is lack of normal the new normal?” And I get a little scared, because growth is terrific, but it can wear a body down. Not to mention a brain.
I was feeling this way on a recent weekend morning while lacing up to go for a run. I headed out the door with something less than a spring in my step.
Then it happened. Okay, no, false — like halfway through the run it happened. I realized, head slap, OH! Here it is. Hello.
My comfort zone. It’s running. This is my tether to myself. I’m sure it will evolve and expand with time, but for now, it’s running. And for now, that’s enough.
Leaving a comfort zone is important, whether for a few minutes or much longer. That is how we grow, and how we discover strength and courage we never imagined we could have. But it’s just as important to have a comfort zone, to recognize it and yes, nurture it. It serves as an anchor, a home port, a recharge station. Without comfort zones, we don’t have the roots to make growth possible.
The next time you feel “stuck” in your comfort zone, I say don’t sweat it. Savor it. Give thanks for it. When the time for growth comes, you’ll be ready.