In at least one previous entry I mentioned that college is often a comfort zone. All too frequently, students enroll in college right out of highschool simply because it is a low risk way to thrive. All their lives, they’ve been told what to do, done it, turned it in, been evaluated, and moved on to the next assignment.
If one has followed directions ever since one can remember, the thought of finding one’s own way is scary: why would you do that, when you could simply fill out some paperwork, sign up for a few interesting classes, maybe move somewhere a little different, and spend another four years doing what you’ve been doing since you were 4?
I can’t blame anybody – it really doesn’t sound half bad, even though I was homeschooled.
But college isn’t the only comfort zone. It’s just one of several. Here are some others:
– A relationship/marriage
– A job
– A group of friends
– An “extracurricular” activity, such as a sport or a book club
As you can see, none of these things are bad in and of themselves. In fact, they are all very good things. However, the issue arises when these things – or desires for these things – become comfort zones and stunt our growth as human beings. It is very easy to get so caught up in life (whatever that means for you) that we plateau.
In fitness, there is a workout routine. In this routine there is a set weight and a set number of repetitions. You do this workout 5 days a week in order to strengthen the areas which you are targeting. However, there comes a point, usually 4-6 weeks after doing a set routine, where your body does not build muscle or lose fat anymore with those particular exercises, weights, and reps. Of course, this is frustrating, but there is a solution: change it up. Perform different exercises, use heavier weights, and/or do more repetitions. This way your body never becomes so accustomed to something that it stops changing; it never gets too adaptive so that it becomes immune to shaping up. It never plateaus.
In the same way, as a person you want to keep growing and changing. To move through life and stay only in comfort zones prevents this from happening. This doesn’t mean that living a permanent, stable life is harmful to human growth; quite to the contrary. However, as living, breathing, thinking, and feeling people, we need that element of change and diversion constantly in our lives.
Change doesn’t have to be huge – you could exchange midnight bowling on the weekends for some horseback riding lessons, or hike some local trails and take pictures instead of spending your lunch hour munching and staring at your favorite social networking site.
Whenever you feel yourself getting too comfortable, take a little time to examine your situation, your motivation, and your attitude. You may find that it is perfectly acceptable for you to keep the same job for 40 years. Just make sure you aren’t selling yourself short.
I don’t believe any of us wants to become stagnant. So, let’s not, okay?