Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things that I have done today that are outside my comfort zone

  • Doing one activity-based budget and one budget for a no-cost extension  
  • Buying screws and plastic anchors to adhere my Ikea coat rack on the wall  
  • Using Chipotle hacks to maximize my burrito size (for someone who orders the exact same thing every time, this qualifies as daring)   
  • Writing a silly blog post about my everyday life

This post started with complaining over text message about how harrrrd everything is. I spent all day at work doing stuff that I sort of but don't totally understand how to do, and a huge volume of it all at once, and worked late into the evening at it. On the way home, I stopped at the hardware store for supplies for my “put furniture in the house and also have a place to put your clothes” efforts, which I swore I'd finish by the end of November and have therefore been consuming decent chunks of my evenings and weekends. Between a busy week at work and trying to get the apartment together in the evenings, I’m tired.

Austin and I were talking the other night about how adulthood seems to be a succession of doing things for the first time and figuring them out – which can feel like a constant uphill slog – and that hit me again in line while texting at Chipotle. And then the phrase "outside my comfort zone" popped into my head. 

Because really, that's exactly what all this harrrrrd adulting stuff is. Everyone, especially inspiration-minded twenty-something bloggers, loves talking about how important it is to push yourself outside your comfort zone, how that’s where the growth and magic happen. And I totally believe that. I even decided “grow in place” would be my phrase for 2013. 

“Leaving your comfort zone” usually conjures images of quit-your-job-and-buy-a-one-way-ticket travel, or getting comfortable with public speaking and blind dates, or various other colorful, random hijinks. I’ve been thinking of “growing in place” as the fun extracurricular activities that complement my day job – growing my first garden, looking for challenging extracurricular activities, maybe trying roller derby if I can get up the nerve for it.

But today I realized that the sometimes-mundane stuff of daily life can be just as life-enriching as the sexier stuff that populate everyone’s “25 by 25” lists, mine included. My work isn’t always thrilling, but it’s often challenging, falling into that sweet spot of being not-impossible but still a little outside the realm of what’s easy for me, and I’m growing as a professional as a result. As much as I wish I could have spent my November evenings on underwater basket weaving instead of constructing Ikea furniture and scouring Craigslist for a couch, I’ve been learning new things and getting a little more competent every day. (I had no idea until recently that you can have a bed with just a mattress, a box spring and a frame.) And “working hard” is outside everyone’s comfort zone – no matter how many hours we’re used to working, we’d probably all rather be watching Netflix. 

So this lovely, Pinteresty idea of “outside your comfort zone,” in practice, often feels like being stressed and confused and frustrated with tasks that seem mundane. Within the comfort zone of working and living in DC, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow on an everyday basis, not just when I decide to check off a bucket list item. 

 So here’s to being stretched, challenged, and sometimes a little overwhelmed in daily life.  That just might be where the magic happens.