They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, that everything you’ve ever wanted is just one step outside of that safe space that you’ve become so accustomed to. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; what it means to be comfortable – with work, in relationships, in life. But more importantly, I’ve been thinking about the dangers of it. What happens when we become too comfortable?
But before I dive in, I’m going to speak very briefly about the imagery that accompanies this post. As I’m sure many of you will know from my social channels, Zoe and I flew to Malaga in June to shoot something really quite special. We shot Audacia London’s Summer 2017 Collection, a mixture of swimwear and activewear pieces that are now live (!) on site for you to browse and purchase at your leisure. See here (and if you decide to treat yourself, use my code BETHNORTON10 for 10% off across the whole site). I’ve shared only the swimwear images with this post, 1) due to volume and 2) because I felt they were the most fitting.
For weeks, maybe even months leading up to the shoot, I was terrified. I don’t have abs, lean limbs or a perfectly round bum. I have cellulite, stretch marks and a damn good bit of wobble too. And with so much going on in the lead up to our trip, I found myself skipping the gym and instead overindulging in comfort foods due to stress. It’s fair to say I wasn’t feeling overly confident about stripping down. And yet, with the sun on my skin, I allowed my body to move, stretch and be free as Zoe snapped away. To date, these are some of my favourite images we have ever created together. And I really am so proud to not only have worked with an incredible brand and to have “modelled” (I use that term very loosely) their Summer collection but that I even did it – slipped into a few skimpy bikinis and took one giant step out of my comfort zone. Bloody well done me.
So back to the topic of discussion. In my opinion, there is a huge difference between being comfortable and being content. To me, being content is a positive thing. To be content is to be at peace, to be in a place of happiness. It’s to be in a place that allows you to continue to grow, yet perhaps less desperately, as you develop with the appreciation of what you already have and where you already are. In contrast, I feel as though to be comfortable is to be lazy. When we’re comfortable, we stop striving. We lose our determination, we lose our drives and we start slacking. We stop pushing ourselves. Because when we’re uncomfortable, we are forced to change something. And when we’re comfortable, we are forced to change nothing. And how can we grow without change?
When I think about my own circumstances, I’ve felt comfortable on a couple of occasions this year. I’ve secured work that I could never have even dreamed of until recently and riding those highs caused me to stop working as hard as I usually do. I realised I felt comfortable. And it’s that feeling of comfort that alarmed me, that actually caused me to take a step back and re-evaluate. Because when I was revelling in the bliss of having a paycheck from a single job larger than the last months’ combined, my head was so high in the clouds that I just couldn’t ground myself to get shit done. I was half-assing everything, scraping by, not giving my all. I had a small success and I wanted to enjoy it. But it made me slack.
And I’ll let you into a little secret. My best work is produced when I’m not quite so happy, when I feel unsuccessful, working all hours of the night and kicking myself if my day’s to-do list isn’t entirely checked off. Those dragging days where my mind is dark and my limbs are heavy can be the worst – but for my work, they can be the best. Because those days mean I’m uncomfortable, maybe even a little sad. So a desire for change is born.
However much or however little I’ve applied myself, despite the work that’s been produced, the exciting projects lined up, the money in my bank account, I’m never quite satisfied. And that keeps me in a place of discomfort, one that I’m comfortable with (this is all getting a bit confusing now, isn’t it?). Because I want more; I want to do more, be more, explore more. And that’s not greed speaking, it’s curiosity, a yearning for discovery and growth. There’s always room for improvement, there’s always something you can do better. And I want to be better, every day.
So let me say this. Whether it’s work, relationships, your lifestyle or your financial situation, don’t ever get too comfortable. Nurture what matters to you, discard what doesn’t and dream, strive and grow like your life depends on it – which in a way, it does. You get one chance, you owe it to yourself to create challenges and break boundaries. The only limits are the ones you set yourself.
And on that note, I’m out.