The idea of being comfortable makes me think of home, especially around the holidays. Sitting in front of the fire, drinking roiboos tea and eating a piece of dark chocolate while it rains/snows outside – I can’t think of a single place where I would be more comfortable.
This year, my holidays are pretty much the opposite of this. Instead of drinking tea and eating chocolate in the snow with my family, I’m sitting on various beaches in Australia.
Sounds horrible right? 😉 (Obviously I’m being fasceious here, it’s actually physically quite comfy and I’m incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to travel)
It’s an incredible experience, it’s just not where I’m necessarily the most comfortable.
But just because something isn’t emotionally or physically comfortable doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. In fact quit often I find the opposite to be true. This doesn’t mean that every uncomfortable situation you find yourself in is actually the best thing that has ever happened to you.
But I do find that there is unlimited benefit and potential in choosing to be uncomfortable.
I learned the value of “choosing discomfort” when I was a teenager. At age 14 I went on my first mission trip. It was a trip to Ecuador to spend 2 weeks building a church. Pretty standard. This trip was called the Ultimate Workout, and was unique in the fact that it was only for teenagers, and the entire point of it was to put you in a group of about 40 kids that you had never met before, and somehow survive and contribute to society (with adult supervision of course, well until a few years later when I, as a 17 year old, was in charge of one of these groups. That’s another story).
I remember the months leading up to that trip I was terrified. I wasn’t the most outgoing kid, and making new friends was hard for me. So the prospect of spending 2 weeks with a bunch of strangers was petrifying to me. I still don’t know what it was that got me on that plane – but in the end, I had the most fantastic 2 weeks and I ended up returning 3 more times the following summers.
I think the thing that kept me going back was that I realized that those moments where I was stretched far beyond my own comfort zone were what cultivated my greatest personal growth. I was forced to be creative and resourceful – so I was.
I’ve found this is often true in medicine as well. I’ve learned the most from situations through my training where I am thrown in the deep end and was expected to swim. I went to numerous suture labs, practiced at home on pieces of fruit, but I didn’t really learn to suture until the day in the operating room when the OB/GYN attending handed me the needle and said “close” (This reminds me, I need to practice my knot tying before surgery starts).
So what is the point? In the few weeks leading up to me leaving for Australia, I found myself excited but also remourseful that I wouldn’t be able to be “comfortable” for Christmas this year. I chose to adventure instead – a choice that often means leaving your comfort zone in the dust.
So while I do miss being home, I’m out looking to cultivate personal growth in areas that aren’t exercised during my days in the hospital (but also to have some fun before returning to my particular reality). I’m investing in myself, and sometimes that takes presidence over being comfortable.