However, stepping out of your comfort zone usually is a voluntary thing and does not keep you from taking that step back into a situation that feels less threatening than the one you have chosen to subject yourself to. Taking a bungee jump, e.g., holds the thrill of danger and excitement, but you also know that it’s going to be over in a moment and you’ll be back on firm land.
I tend to have periods when I am perfectly happy to take risks, when ‘the new’ excites me and I cannot wait to embark on some new venture. And then there are times when I’m more introspective, when I need more structure and the knowledge of what comes next. Either way, I need the option to retreat – and I believe that may be the case for most of you, too.
But here’s the kicker: what if you find yourself in a situation where you find yourself pushed out of your comfort zone all the time, and the only way to achieve something is to not just visit the outer fringes of the comfort zone, but having to spend a lot of time outside of it. Spending too much time in situations that are deeply troubling?
This is the situation I find myself in more often now that lockdown (in the UK) has been removed and – it seems – everyone has returned to what was the norm before the pandemic. I have always felt deeply uncomfortable when I’m surrounded by a lot of people, but I realise this appears to be the main avenue to encounter others, to engage with new people, make friends, find a partner (for sex, or for life), and generally interact.
The covid lockdown zoom calls were wonderful for me because I have never had so many personal conversations in my life, simply because this particular environment meant that whoever was engaged in a conversation was not distracted all the time, and I was able to focus on the person rather than struggling with that internal “fight or flight” instinct that always comes up in crowds larger than 3 or 4 people.
You might think “get over it already and mingle” but it’s not that easy! This is not just something I have decided not to do, but it’s baked into my being: groups of people freak me out. Am I alone in this? I don’t think so, but I fear that everyone else who feels the same is also retreating into their shell again.
Does this sound familiar? I’d like to hear about your experiences
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.