Entering the Discomfort Zone

Yesterday afternoon I drove into downtown Vancouver and spent a couple of hours promoting Phibersmith to some retail stores.  Then I spent several more hours coming down off my anxiety high.  In fact it took me about three times as long to recover from the outing as the outing itself.

Although I’m fairly new to this whole game of selling one’s artistry, all the seasoned pros I talk to say the same thing about self-promotion: HATE. IT.  It is one of the most awkward, uncomfortable, skeev-inducing activities – speed-dating comes to mind as a possible comparison (although that I’ve happily never experienced) – and yet it’s pretty much essential if I have any hope of success in this crazy venture.

Let me put it this way, for the most part the only interview you have to go through for a job is the one you do prior to being hired (maybe you do a series of interviews, but anyway, you get it).  Imagine instead that a main part of your job was being interviewed – for that same job – over and over and over again.  And again.  You can see how that might get exhausting.

Last night I didn’t settle down until almost midnight, and that was after having to get out of bed once because a design for an embroidered collar popped into my head and I had to draw it in case it wasn’t still in my head in the morning (don’t you just hate when that happens?).  So I was pretty surprised this morning when my eyes popped open at 7am, and I felt… great.  Like I haven’t slept that well in a while, and like I could tackle anything in the world today. INSPIRED.

This started me thinking about the concept of comfort, and how we relate to it.  What do you think of when you hear the word “comfort,” or “comfortable”?  Connotations mostly good, right?  But what about “comfort zone” or  “comfort level”? Still positive terms?  It occurs to me that, as a society that focuses intensely on creature comforts, on making people and situations MORE comfortable (on a physical plane anyway), we tend to ignore the fact that discomfort might be a positive thing too.  Oh, I’m sure that psychology is all over this already, and what I’m thinking here is nothing new – habituation, after all, is Psych 101 – but bear with me.

In the case of comfort zone and comfort level, the term “comfort” in these instances is a negative.  It implies safety, yes, but a safety that is closing you off from new experience and personal growth.  It is safety, but it is also stagnancy – and, frankly, boredom.  For this reason we are encouraged to venture beyond our comfort zones, or exceed our comfort levels.  In this sense, your discomfort zone is actually a positive place; one where you’re pushing yourself to the limit or beyond it, in terms of creativity, or physical (and mental!) endurance, or whatever your passion – in terms of GUTS.

Based on this idea, I’m wondering if I don’t spend too much time worrying about getting myself back to my comfort zone, and too little time checking out the scenery while I’m out of it.  Over the next little while I’m going to be stepping out more often – fearless! – to see what goodies I collect when I’m back at centre.

How are you exploring your discomfort zone?

Share | This entry was posted in thinking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>