Our own glass ceilings

I don’t agree.

I quit my degree course third year in as I hated my year out in Spain. On paper it should’ve been an amazing experience for a 19-year old, setting out on an adventure, exploring the world, learning a new language, experiencing life. But I hated it, I felt sick for home. So I came home. And I beat myself up for years after with the ‘failure’ tag.

Even though I went back to uni and did another three years at night school to finish my degree, I still felt disappointed with myself that I hadn’t ‘stayed the course’.

But why? Why do we feel we have to force ourselves to do things out of our comfort zone that we really don’t want to do? We feel so much pressure to be constantly breaking through our own glass ceilings in order to grow.

To stay in our comfort zone

Is there any merit in staying in our comfort zones?

Well I think so. Although I do think the answer is two-fold.

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone to do something you feel you ‘should’ do (the big career move for example, when in fact you are not a career person, but feel you should be), then no, I don’t think you should force yourself.

But keeping yourself small through fear and letting that fear hold you back from something you are really passionate about, does warrant stepping out of your comfort zone and facing the fear. You’d love to learn to swim but you’re frightened of water? Well then yes, I think it is worth pushing through for you to enjoy the benefits of swimming.

All my life I was frightened of public speaking but I wanted to teach meditation. I let it hold me back in education and career choices as I was too scared to face it. But looking back, I wasn’t that passionate about what pushing through the barrier would give me, so I kept in my comfort zone.

Until this. I really wanted to do this, so I pushed through and overcame the fear, to achieve something that meant a great deal to me.

Comfort without complacency

A term that I read in an article in Breathe magazine recently was ‘comfort without complacency’. It’s about the effort that you make to ensure your comfort zone remains happy and healthy rather then becoming a place of indifference.

We place so much credence on personal development, overcoming, pushing through that we don’t actually look at what we have in our safe space. What is there to explore here? Can we find hidden depths within. Look at the relationships we create, as we move through from initial excitement to a comfortable space, does this make the relationship any less fruitful? Or are we in a place where we are happy and within this, happiness can thrive?

Want versus should

Consider your comfort zones. Do you stay because you enjoy it here or are you here because fear keeps you from stepping out?

In my opinion, it’s all a question of what you want to do, not what you should do. That’s what determines if we are in a healthy, safe space or if we should keep pushing to a reach a goal important to us.

For further insight: Breathe magazine issue 32 – Hidden Depths