2016, it is decreed, shall be The Year of Living Uncomfortably.
What does it mean to Live Uncomfortably? It means doing something that I’d rather not do. For example, driving on highways which, for me, has become the equivalent of a live-action horror movie. Gut-knotting, hands-sweating, arms locking-up, eyes bugging out—if I could just get my head to spin around, I’d be a ringer for Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Not a fun state to be in while traveling 100km per hour, believe me. Or what about surfing while we’re in Florida? I’m strong, fit and athletic and perfect waves await within walking distance of our doorstep. But I’m not the least bit excited at the prospect of saltwater walls crashing over my head and undertows pulling at my feet, not to mention having to duck Portuguese man o’ war.
I’d rather sit on the beach with a book and keep my anxiety level hovering at exactly zero.
Sigh. Part of me really, really does not want to do undertake this mission. I’d rather curl up in bed with my cats and my books, and be safe, and comfortable and warm. On the other hand, when faced with the question how did my life get so small, I know darn well that it is in large measure due to my tendency to withdraw into a book-filled cocoon and close the door. That, coupled with my tendency to say no.
Do you want to go water skiing?
Downhill skiing? Snowboarding perhaps?
Paddleboarding, sailing, surfing?
No, no and no. I don’t want to be cold, wet or uncomfortable. Or heaven forbid, hurt myself.
Wait. Did you say Yup?
Aha. So you are not a total security-seeking recluse.
No, not totally. Just 95% of the time.
And that 95% of the time comes with a hefty price tag.
Like shrinking instead of growing.
Like letting my courage muscles atrophy instead of exercising them.
Like being a really lousy role model for my kids (okay, except for the hours spent climbing trees and rocks).
Like having become deathly afraid of driving on highways because it is just so much easier to avoid them — and then one day, I can’t drive on the highway without feeling like I’m having a heart attack. Now there’s a fun habit one to dig myself out of! Sigh, the Year of Living Uncomfortably Step 1: Driving Lessons. (And yes, I’ve had two lessons already, peeps, and I’m still trying to uncurl my fingers. Patience, dear one, patience.)
Living Uncomfortably doesn’t mean I have to take up any of these activities on an ongoing basis (okay, except for the driving), it just means saying maybe before saying no. It means trying something once. It means taking a small trip back onto the highway, a few exits maybe, and then building my way back to confidence instead of withdrawing so far onto country roads that it takes me three times longer than necessary to get anywhere.
I’ve jumped fences on horseback; I’ve scaled rock cliffs; I’ve climbed cargo nets 80 feet off the ground, repeatedly; and, I used to drive happily for mile and miles. I can do these things. I just don’t do them often enough.
So, stay tuned. At least once a month, I’ll have a post about Living Uncomfortably. I promise. Now excuse with me while I go dig up a snowboard. Tally-friggin’-ho!