Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the past. Different choices I’ve made or didn’t make. I think it’s just something about the year coming to a close that provokes reflection on the past. A concept that I’ve heard a million times really sunk in whilst reflecting on the year: lean into discomfort rather than runaway. I thought of all the times I’ve run away this, and for once, the few times where I didn’t this year. This concept might seem paradoxical, just plain stupid, or if you’re a step ahead of me, perfect sense.
I’m a pretty “backstage” kind of person, but especially when it comes to sharing talents. I had this dream a couple nights ago that I was singing away by myself, per usual, and some random guy invited me into this Opera building and was like “Come on! Sing for us!” Even in my dreams I said no without hesitation and could feel the familiar shrinking feeling of trying to disappear and get the spotlight off of me, as I walked toward the exit. I don’t remember the rest of the dream, or maybe I woke up, but I do remember feeling like I had missed an opportunity, which is weird because it didn’t even happen in real life. I rarely sing in front of people (at least in my “real” voice) because I don’t think it’s that great, but mainly because it’s uncomfortable. People will laugh, make fun, or judge. Hell, I’ve even done that to other people. This past summer I was on my family’s annual lake vacation in Canada. It’s jam packed with long sunny days on the lake, laughter, water-skiing, sun burns, and campfires underneath a multitude of stars. At one of these campfires, one of the fellow cottagers brought out his guitar. I’ve learned to play a few chords here and there, so of course my sisters insisted I play and sing. I had a mini debate going on in my head, the usual excuses: you’re not even good, this is so unlike you, just keep saying no, you’re gonna be so embarrassed etc etc. But for some reason, I chose to lean into the discomfort and go for it, and it was great! Sure, I didn’t sing my best, messed up several times, and was off key, missed some chords, but it didn’t matter because I was in disbelief and awe that I actually put myself out there, leaned into the discomfort, and was totally fine. The people listening didn’t run away or go deaf either!
Once someone told me that “life should be comfortable, like a couch.” I could not disagree more with this preposterous statement. Comfort doesn’t present any challenge; no challenge = no growth. Life is not given to us so we can merely amuse ourselves to our death with our conveniences and comfort zones. We were not created to be stationary, and in reality are always either moving forward or retrograding. As Bradley Whitford says:
Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.
I’m not saying go live a life of complete torture and utter misery. Use and be thankful for the comforts you have been blessed with of course, but don’t let them confine you. And maybe, just maybe, when the next situation of discomfort rolls around, lean in and just for go for it, one discomfort at a time.