Freedom of Familiarity?
As I may have mentioned on a few occasions, sometimes an idea for an article pops into my head and the words immediately pour out. Other times, I get the idea and all the words roll around in my head for a while before they eventually assemble in a cohesive way. What you are about to read falls into the latter category. As you read it, you will likely understand why this composition crystalized at this time.
Every one of us has a comfort zone, a place where we find peace, safety, love, and happiness. Your comfort zone may be your home or anywhere you happen to be in the same place as your spouse or your best friend. Your comfort zone may be your favorite vacation spot or your local coffee house. Wherever you are most likely to feel your best, strongest, most confident self on full display, that is your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone is likely different than mine, but there are almost certainly common threads amongst our definitions. I mentioned a few of them already; peace, love, happiness, strength, confidence. How about familiarity? When you have familiarity with someone or something, you are free to be yourself and when you are true to yourself, you are the best version of yourself.
When you exist in this zone, you can accomplish great things. The confidence that you feel in your comfort zone should liberate you from your inhibitions and help you to unlock your potential and challenge yourself to learn more and expand your horizons. After all, if it does get scary as you progress forward, you can always come back to your comfort zone.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this way. Whether it is the allure of all that comfort and peace or a desire to shelter yourself from anything that might disappoint or frustrate you, you may very well be tempted to stay in that zone as much as possible once you have found it.
However, you view your comfort zone and whatever amount of time you spend in it, ask yourself this question. Would your feelings about it and the time you spend there change if you couldn’t leave? If you suddenly did not have any choice, but to stay in your comfort zone, would the familiarity of it set you free or trap you?
My view on my comfort zone is analogous to a lap top and its docking station. The purpose of the laptop is to create mobility and versatility for you and the tasks that you need to complete. When the laptop has done its job for the day and its battery power begins to wane, you pop it snugly back into it’s docking station where it re-charges, syncs up, and gets ready for the next day.
When the laptop works in concert with its docking station, it is perfectly suited for the tasks at hand. If it never docked, it would never sync with the broader system to which it is attached, and it would ultimately run out of charge and value to you. Conversely, if the laptop never left the docking station, there would be no point in having one because the reasons you own it would be negated by the complete lack of mobility and versatility now trapped in the docking station.
In my mind, if you choose to never leave your comfort zone you are negating the value of your comfort zone and resigning yourself to a life of perpetually untapped potential, limited or no opportunity for growth, and confinement in place of freedom. The only decision you are making in this scenario is the decision to stay where you are. I guess that because you are making that choice, you could fool yourself into thinking that you have chosen to be where you are. But, what if that choice is taken away?
The power of choice and the freedom to make your own decisions are the greatest and most powerful freedoms you have. If that power is taken from you for a short amount of time for a cause or a reason that you understand, chances are great that you would still be willing to sacrifice your decision making for the greater good.
What if the circumstances aren’t so clear and the time frame is even fuzzier? How long would you be willing to make that sacrifice and what would you want in exchange for making it?
Adverse and difficult times have a way of bringing the best out of you. It might be because they cause you to look at yourself and the world around you in a different way or that they create a different focus for you. Sometimes, the challenges you face are simplified when there is one overriding factor that looms so large, you have no choice but to stand together with those around you and face it.
Friends and family are typically front and center during tough times. If you appreciated them before facing those tough times, you probably appreciate them even more so while you face those times and if you were taking them for granted, you may realize that and make it a point to let them know how much they really mean to you.
As we all face these difficult times together, confined to our individual comfort zones and temporarily deprived of many of our basic and most powerful freedoms, let’s make it a point not to let those same comfort zones trap us now or on the other side of this adversity.
We may have to be resolved to our physical confinement and restrictions for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean that our mental and emotional beings need to be confined by those same restraints.
I am going to make it a point to continue to find ways to expand my mind, harness my emotions, and strengthen my resolve to be a better person in the short and long term. What are you going to do?
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union