For a long time, I was the person who would fold if I had anything but a sure thing in my hand. I believed in extremely calculated risks. If there was room for pain, I avoided it. If there was a chance that I would be on the losing end, my defenses were already so far up that I wouldn’t be able to feel a thing. Whatever the situation was, I did my best not to care too much about anything. Never care enough that it would hurt.
It’s a family trait. Ever since I can remember, we plan for the heartbreak. We adjust accordingly. We keep a straight face even if we’re in pain. I think the Asian part of the group really hammered that last one in hard. Above all else, we are always there to save face and look strong while doing so. We’re upset, we grieve, we have loss…but it takes place in solitude. We close the blinds, we turn down the lights, we have our moment and then we re-enter the world like nothing ever happened. We enter the world a little bit harder. And occasionally, we drive ourselves a little mad because we have all of these feeling right below the surface that we refuse to show to the public…which includes those closest to us.
I lived a good life. Always had a steady job. Always had a steady relationship. Always had steady friends. I went through life on auto-pilot, never really losing much. Never really gaining much. No real highs. No real lows. Just a mundane existence. Standing in place, waiting for the next chapter to begin or end…after awhile, it was all the same. And I blamed everything else for not living the life that I wanted. I blamed money or circumstances. I blamed other people. I blamed location.
I used everything as an excuse except for the truth — I was terrified of change. Because the truth is that you can have whatever life you want. You can mold life into what you want it to be, if you decide to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Whether that is risking it all on a different job. Taking your effort out of a comfortable relationship. Putting your faith in someone new. Shedding some dead weight when it comes to the people who get your energy…whatever it is, it’s going to be unpleasant.
As a human, I don’t love feeling unpleasant. Actually, the very thought of feeling unpleasant makes me feel unpleasant. You can ask those closest to me. Discomfort is not my thing (not that discomfort is really anyone’s thing.) But what I have found is that it takes a whole lot of unsteadiness… a whole lot of being unsure… a whole lot of discomfort… to ever receive the opportunity to feel the best feelings in life. All the good ones… the great ones…don’t sit inside the safe box of your comfort zone. You don’t get to touch them with gloves on. You can’t dip your toes in the water without completely jumping in.
The higher the risk, the higher the reward. You have to climb higher to get the good stuff, feel deeper, risk getting cut open. And don’t get me wrong…I know how easy it is for me to say these things. Typing them on the internet is a breeze, living the way I want to live…completely open and exposed is not. I struggle with it everyday. Everyday I consider, even if just for a second, throwing all those walls back into the air and sliding back into my place in line. I’m anxious right now just thinking about it.
But great things have happened. More will. Something will not end well. Those will hurt. But it will be worth it. Living is always worth it. And the first step is the hardest…
So, if you can, welcome the discomfort.