So if you know me IRL you’ll hear me talk a lot about my dad. He travels for work, and often times during a work trip will go eat at a restaurant alone. For a long time I thought this was crazy/weird/sad. Who would eat alone? Now, I do it all the time. I love it. Being alone in my apartment, or eating alone in a crowded restaurant, doesn’t bother me a bit. After some practice, I started to be able to stomach it and then, eventually, enjoy it.
It’s the art of being comfortably uncomfortable. And if it’s not something you’re willing to attempt and eventually master, chances are life is going to be mega hard for you.
We all have to learn how to be comfortably uncomfortable. Doing the uncomfortable thing, or being in an uncomfortable situation, is no one’s default or first choice. You probably felt it at some point in grade school or middle school, when you didn’t want to be a tattler but knew you should say something. Or in high school, when you got paired up in biology lab with the meanest mean girl of 10th grade and you had no choice but to work together.
The thing about college, though, and all those years afterward is that we are calling all the shots in our own lives. And more often times than not, that means choosing the comfortable option because no one is calling us on the carpet for it. No one is responsible for us but us…not our parents or teachers or coaches or mentors or whoever. We set our alarms, we set our calendars, and we either run through discomfort or away from it.
We usually choose to run away from it by eating with the friend who really just rambles about herself in lieu of eating (peacefully) alone. Or moving in with a so-so boyfriend because of this illusionary momentum and because you’re uncomfortable having a conversation about your future, or lack thereof, together. Skipping the work out. Going out with your friends because you’re uncomfortable verbalizing that, this week, your savings is more important than your bar tab. Letting your friend become your roommate when you know it’s just a bad move. Choosing to immediately enter grad school because the real world is too hard, unpredictable, too…uncomfortable…to face.
We all do it, but being aware when you’re making the comfortable decision just because it’s comfortable is a good place to start changing your choices for the better. With that awareness, you can begin making steps toward (and not away from) the uncomfortable choices…like making that cold call to your dream company, or breaking up, or moving in or moving away or moving on.
Now, I’m not saying go against your gut. Your gut is always right. But I am saying listen to your own mind when it’s trying to reason it’s way out of something that your gut and heart know is the right move. Then tell your mind to shut up. You can do it, whatever it is, even if it is uncomfortable.
It’s an art, and one we can all master.