I’ve often wondered how my life would be without it.
Free, easy, relaxed … I’m getting butterflies in my stomach just imagining it. Much as I long for relief from the twisted tightness I’ve come to know so well over the years, the thought of freedom immediately makes me feel anxious.
Weird, isn’t it?
Or maybe not.
Anxiety is my comfort zone
The thing is, anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. With anxiety, I know where I stand. I know how I feel, and I know how my life looks. I push against it, but it rarely leaves my side. Anxiety loves me, looks after me and keeps me safe.
Keeps me comfortable.
I’m not sure when the original role of anxiety crossed over from alerting us to the threat of an angry bear to its new and annoying role of keeping us comfortable.
“Don’t go outside!” whispered anxiety, “You might meet someone you don’t want to talk to!”
So we stay in, dutifully, wondering when we might start living for real.
But that’s okay, because we are comfortable.
Thoughts about my comfort zone
What does comfortable even mean? I’m certainly not sitting back in my favourite armchair, reading a book with a mug of hot chocolate and not a care in the world. No, that would be comfortable without anxiety.
Comfortable for me is that annoying feeling where I wish I could do more than I currently am, but my fear seems too great to overcome. Anxiety reminds me that something terrible might happen if I did (approach that stranger) so I don’t – and then I wonder what might have happened if I had done.
I spend the next few hours ruminating on it.
But I got to be comfortable because I didn’t take a risk.
Comfortable is the place I know well. Too well. Well enough to want to leave.
Comfortable is predictable, boring, limiting, and annoying. It is filled with the things I haven’t been able to try, or do, or achieve, because my well-meaning anxiety has stepped in to keep me safe.
Expanding my comfort zone
Every now and then, I decide to take a risk. I step out of my circle – just a little bit – and I see what happens.
It is scary out there.
It is unpredictable.
I cannot plan for every possible outcome. I have to think on my feet, and I have to be prepared to fail.
Sometimes I do fail.
Sometimes I run straight back into my comfortable hole and curl up in a nice warm blanket with a mug of hot chocolate.
But sometimes I stop and look around.
Sometimes I keep on walking. Those are the best times. Those are the times that I feel like I’m really living.
I’m feeling vulnerable right now. I’ve written something that is very different to the post I had planned to write. I’m not sure whether to share it because I’m not sure if it makes any sense.
But this post is about just that.
Stepping out, taking a risk, and keeping going, no matter what.
When was the last time you stepped out and took a little risk? Did you feel alive? Do you regret it – or do you regret that you don’t do it more?
I created JANX to help me work through my anxiety daily, whilst focusing toward the life I wanted to live. JANX is currently funding on Kickstarter, click to view my campaign!