I love the padded walls of my comfort zone. When I leave it, it is usually with a lot of kicking and screaming and fanfare. Sometimes nausea. Funny, then, how much I absolutely love encouraging other people get out of theirs. You should have seen my boundless confidence as I goaded my friend and fellow writer Michele Manning to take advantage of the “open mic” forum at a recent conference. I kept thinking, she’s got this, she’s got this, she’s going to be great! Easy for me to say, all I had to do was sit in the audience and cheer like crazy.
But she did have it! She rocked the mic. AND, after her reading, a person in the audience came up to express how much the words had meant to her. Success! There was something so magical in the moment, because even though Michele looks so cool, calm, and collected in this picture, I think inside she was feeling more like this:
It’s rare and exhilarating to witness the actual moment when someone steps outside the box to carpe diem. But watching and doing are two different things! If you’re like me, you loooove to stay in the box, enveloped in a thick, cozy blanket of calm. It’s nice there. Of course you want to stay! But hidden away, you’ll never have the chance to let your true talent rise.
Long ago, I heard the “analogy of the coral reef”. On a reef, the lee (calm) side is white, hard, and lifeless. But the side of the reef that bears all the pounding waves is constantly changing, and teeming with diverse life and vibrant colors.
It’s nice to rest on the quiet side sometimes, but don’t forget how great it can be out where the waves crash over you, where you experience real change and growth. Spend enough time out of the box, and you just might begin to:
I’m grateful for the people in my life who keep pushing me to do more, try more, and be more. If you ever need a cheerleader, send me a note. I’ll be ready with my pom-poms!
Many great stories come from the idea of a character struggling to get out of their own comfort zones so that they can grow and change. One that I recently enjoyed, which is written for the Middle Grade crowd but can be enjoyed by any age, is A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban. Warning: you may experience “Neil Diamond song stuck in your head-itis” after reading. Check it out!