“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” Unknown
It’s perfectly respectable to avoid uncomfortable things. After all, no one wants to experience unpleasant feelings and situations. Personally, I’ve spent the majority of my life thus far strategically plotting my way around and out of experiences that might threaten the safety of my self made cocoon. In my cocoon, I am in control. In my cocoon, I am without judgement. In my cocoon, I am free.
It goes, almost, without saying that there is only so much freedom to be had in the confinements of one’s cocoon. The safety that is felt is because of the restriction of outside interruptions penetrating the barriers. Life outside of these walls is scary. For me, it is exhilaratingly terrifying. I may look outside of the small windows and envision myself a more adventurous life, but it’s not a threat because I know that I will never have to actually live it. That’s the beauty and the curse of an imagination, I suppose.
But what happens when visions no longer satisfy? When all of a sudden you are faced with opportunities to seize your dreams, to live your life, and to find your place? (Cue Eminem “Lose Yourself”)
I was terrified of finishing my degree at Georgia State in Atlanta. Not because I feared student loans, the difficulty of the classes, or employment opportunities afterwards, but because I had never been to Atlanta other than driving through on the interstate. I had never parked my car in a deck or a lot where I had to pay, gotten out, and walk the streets of downtown. I didn’t know if I could even find my way, with GPS, without getting lost habitually.
The week before starting my first official semester, I took my brother and completed a trial run. We walked and laughed and attempted to find the buildings where my classes would be. After about 2 hours, I felt confident that I would be at least somewhat familiar with the setup. On the way home, I had that same familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. That same feeling that has always stopped me in my tracks, and brought me crashing back to reality, my reality. I have never had to fear others doubting me because I do that enough for myself. For the next week, I cried, bit my finger nails, lost sleep, and couldn’t eat. I was, as usual in such situations, a nervous train wreck by the time the first day of classes came.
The difference between this situation and others prior is that I persisted on. Despite my own doubts, and through my tears, I made it to Atlanta somewhat on time. I got lost, but I ended up finding my way again. I was late to my first class, but I went in anyway. I was shaking the entire time, but I never felt more alive.
In 2009, when my original college experience began, I never imagined that I would make it to GSU in Atlanta. As an English major at that time, I never truly envisioned myself taking on the possibility of teaching or making my writing public. It was all just a distant dream I had, not something that I could ever see manifest into what it is now. It has taken almost 9 years, but I am finally in the place I always hoped for but never thought could happen.
I believe in divine timing. Who I was in 2009 is a vastly different person than who I am today. I needed these years to show me what I wanted from life, and for life to show me who I want to be. Through all of my strategic planning from my cocoon, I could never have avoided what God has planned. I just simply needed the time to grow into it.
I have always been inherently afraid. I avoid adventures I would love to take, I keep myself out of the spotlight of day to day life, I fade into the background whenever possible, and I rarely speak up. I am adventurously cautious, introverted and eccentric, shy and determined, and absolutely unique. And while I have come to realize the importance of the occasional breaking free of my comfort zone, I have also come to respect my boundaries. It is with balance that we accomplish many great things. Even tiny roars are still roars, after all.