After reflecting on the past nine posts, I realized that the topics I’ve covered have seemed slightly serious (for example: shouldering others’ burdens, facing the responsibility that accompanies growing older and daring to make large life choices). They reflect the doctrine of a writer who wants to live without walls. Ultimately, these heavy topics were written to challenge cliché perceptions of how one wages war against their inhibitions.
The term “comfort zone” is the epitome of a cliché. So, naturally, there are many cliché ways that people try to live fuller, more satisfying lives. However, these acts never have a lasting impact on our lives.
To help you identify some of these faulty methods of getting rid of your inhibitions, I compiled a list of five clichés that aren’t actually related to your comfort zone. (Disclaimer: If you are naturally inclined to do any of the following five things for fun, keep in mind that this list is directed towards the more cautionary half of the population!)
1) Skydiving: Worst-case scenario, your fear of heights (or lack of stable ground beneath your feet) will send you into cardiac arrest. At best, you will love experiencing free fall whilst strapped to an instructor and consequently become a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, bent on endangering your life. Besides, are you going to live any differently when you’re not waiting to pull your parachute?
2) Riding amusement park rides: Devious friends often employ this method of torture to transform their fearful companions into risk-takers. However, in my experience, my fears remain intact upon stepping off the coaster (In the future, I will shamelessly resign myself to riding Dumbo). Stay far away from these gravity-defying torture devices and your intact limbs will thank you. (If you need further convincing, read here about the lack of governmental regulations on roller coasters.)
3) Eating an exotic meal: You’re kidding yourself if you find this fun. Grasshoppers, for example, do not belong anywhere near your mouth. At my discretion, I chose not to include a picture (you’re welcome).
4) Singing karaoke at a bar: It’s usually just embarrassing. Besides, you shouldn’t be too proud of being able to dance like Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze to “Time of My Life” (although I admit this would be a rather impressive solo act).
5) Driving across the country: Oftentimes, when we feel too settled or comfortable, we feel the urge to drive away from our restlessness. However, Dean Moriarty taught us the consequences of running away from our lives in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: He heartbreakingly became a perpetual drifter. Ultimately, long-winded road trips are merely our attempt at avoiding the source of our unhappiness. For example, Daryl Watson (whose story you can listen to here on This American Life) sought God on the highways of Delaware for three days before abandoning his attempt to walk across the country; he discovered that our lives do not belong on the road.
Ultimately, these clichés have something in common: they are all temporary. Although I may seem like a prude for having such a cautionary outlook on these clichés, my outlook on comfort zones applies to something that endures longer than brief acts of spontaneity.
Getting rid of your comfort zone involves a daily effort to redirect your perspective. It involves challenging yourself to engage in purposeful (and occasionally uncomfortable) acts. It doesn’t mean that you willingly eat insects, jump from unnatural heights or flaunt your lack of vocal talent for the amusement of others. Instead, it means that you pursue an authentic change in your approach to everyday experiences.
So, even though the topic of this blog – comfort zones – is cliché, learning how to encourage strangers, pursue your dreams and engage in acts of service is not cliché. It’s genuine.
Have you ever undertaken one of the five clichés? Do you agree or disagree with my evaluation of their value? Respond in the comments!