This is a concept near and dear to my heart, first brought into my mindspace by my best friend Danielle. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable may take many forms and its meaning may differ from person to person.
To me, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is a way we, as humans and spiritual beings, can grow. I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of going outside your comfort zone… and what I’m talking about is taking that one step further. It means acknowledging and accepting the feeling of discomfort, where it’s coming from, and where it can take you.
It’s natural for humans to want to stay inside a zone of comfort, to not allow themselves to dwell in a state of discomfort. It makes sense right? In most cases, comfort = happiness. Though staying in this zone for a long time can inhibit growth. The potential for growth when outside the zone of comfort is infinite, and that is why Danielle and I are so in love with this concept.
So let’s apply this concept to traveling. We all know that traveling almost always takes you outside of your comfort zone, but what happens when you consciously choose to immerse yourself in experiences that you normally wouldn’t? I like to think that this is when my life becomes a movie, a personal documentary even. This is especially true when you choose to experience things you’ve wanted to experience for a long time, perhaps your whole life. For example, studying abroad, making intense eye contact with that handsome foreign man/woman/person and actually going and talking to them, going to India for a yoga teacher training, embarking on a solo road trip around the country, moving into a van or to a new city, working on a farm in the French countryside, or bungee jumping the tallest jump in the world.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is essential when you’re traveling alone. No one is there to hold your hand all the time or to constantly influence your decisions. You make the decisions, which is very liberating, and you are your main source of comfort and safety. “When you’re not around anyone you know you’re forced to see your true self. It’s like holding up a mirror, showing myself that this is what I’m like when no ones around,” Danielle says. It’s true, you discover things about yourself that may surprise you. You’ll become more aware of how you speak to yourself (whether it be outloud or in your head, if you’re kind and compassionate or hard on yourself) and whether you act out of love or out of fear. What activities you really want to do may be different than if you were with friends or family (perhaps you want to ditch the historical museums and take a cooking class or befriend some locals in a bar instead).
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable may be easier or more difficult than you think. Though it may be energy-consuming, I believe it has the potential to provide you with lots of energy in the long run. It makes you a stronger person, by teaching you that you are stronger than you may realize. Imagine the feeling you’ll have once you make it through a difficult situation, be it a stressful or completely new form of transportation or getting sick in a foreign country. I feel victorious knowing that if I did it once, I can likely do it again.
As I keep immersing myself in experiences outside of my comfort zone, I have a bank of memories and feelings to refer back to whenever I encounter something trying. Kayla, remember that time you went to Thailand and worked outside in 90+ degree weather every day for two weeks with the highest humidity you’ve ever experienced in your life? Yeah, I’m sure this hot yoga class will be just fine. Remember that time you drove for like 10 hours and slept in the back of your car at a rest stop before making it to your next destination on that solo road trip? Yeah, driving 4-5 hours to see family isn’t bad at all!
In reality, life is about balance. We (especially introverts) can’t be pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones so often that we get overwhelmed and can’t relax. Listen to your intuition and ask yourself if now is a good time to dwell in some discomfort. If your intuition is telling you go for it, you’ll probably walk away with a valuable lesson learned, a new friend or romantic relationship, a hilarious story, or even just a new sense of strength and confidence.
Now go out and get uncomfortable! 😉