I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my goals, which made me really start to hit (smash into, really) the boundaries of my comfort zone.
This week I learned that I have placed myself into a comfort zone cage… and now that I know, I have to do something about it.
I had no idea I was even in one. Of course, there were signs everywhere, but like every good block, we are completely oblivious until we smack right into it.
Before I get into my story, I feel I need to say this out front for context: I am an introvert. I wear my introvertness like a badge. Big gathering? No thanks! Public speaking? Heck no! Spend all day quietly reading a book? Now we can be friends (as long as you don’t stay too long, I have books to read).
I have spent most of my life “happily” working away behind the scenes. I don’t like to be the centre of attention and I find it easy to “hide” behind modern tools like email, text messaging and online take-out ordering. I don’t call for pizza. It would require me to TALK to someone.
Ironically, as a hypnotist, I do a lot of talking.
My carefully constructed cage keeps me from being seen.
It’s really cozy. Its got a fireplace with a big comfy leather chair next to it. There’s floor to ceiling books and magically a glass of wine appears here and there. Naps are plentiful on the old-fashioned chaise lounge, which is positioned strategically under the huge leaded windows that overlook the picturesque gardens outside. Obviously, this is completely fictional, but this is how I picture my cage. Why would anyone want to leave here?
Um. Food? Hanging with family? Personal satisfaction of creating meaning and purpose in life? Just to name a few…
The library is a good place to recharge my batteries, but it isn’t a good place to advance my soul or achieve my goals. And even though I LOVE BOOKS, you cannot replace human interaction with them – as much as I would sometimes like to.
So back to this pesky issue about being seen. Here’s the Cole’s Notes version of my life with this issue:
- Never answer a question in class even though you know the answer.
- Absolutely, under no circumstances, join any type of event that requires a stage.
- When forced public speaking happens, ensure you look stunning to distract from the rapid pace that you are delivering whatever nonsense they made you talk about. (You obviously cannot handle the extra potential humiliation that comes with people criticizing your looks too).
- Never, ever, take a job that requires you to do presentations, or be the “expert” in the capacity that you might actually be asked to brief people or provide your professional opinion (unless you can do it via email…then that is perfectly acceptable).
Now, here are the unfortunate outcomes of those things:
- No one sees how intelligent and bored you are.
- No one sees your expert ability to communicate.
- Lame. Just lame.
- Bored as heck, because you know you actually are an expert and you could really contribute in a meaningful way. You thrive on knowing your topic and you are fabulous. You could really move up the ladder, or create an awesome business, but you don’t. This leads to HUGE RESENTMENT, but of course you don’t say anything about it – at least not to anyone who could do something about it.
So this begs the question, if you are excellent and have such wonderful things to contribute, why would you stay in the cage?
You know the cage is constricting. You feel the longing to contribute meaningfully to the world or at minimum, your job or something else important in your life. There is a fire burning inside your heart and your soul for that thing – your thing – yet you keep throwing water on the fire. You keep trying to extinguish it because it’s easier to stay in the cage.
Maybe you feel it but don’t know what it is. Maybe you know exactly what it is, but are scared to try it out. Either way, that fire has always been in you and its purpose is to make you just a little uncomfortable so you leave the cage. It’s actually an accelerant to lead you towards your goal and your purpose. When you notice the rising fire, it’s time to leave the safety of the cage.
I’m learning this too. I am always learning. I’m feeling the fire really strongly lately and I’m slowly cracking open the door to the cage. I’m peeking out, and cautiously sticking my toes out the door. Every day, I let just a little bit more out – my leg, an arm – and eventually I will run out that door. It’s it easy? NO! Do I sometimes want to slam that door shut so fast it knocks books off the shelves? YES! But it’s getting awfully warm in my cage and it’s not so cozy anymore.
So my question for you today is, “What cage are you living in?” Are you feeling the fire within? Maybe you just need to take baby steps, but you should definitely take steps.