As someone who is energised by being around other people, it is often challenging for me to sit alone, look within and reflect.
I believe, that is part of the reason why I write these articles. I might be alone while writing, but I always feel like I am with you, the reader, as I write.
I have often thought that the past is just that, something I try not to get too hung-up on, as I have zero power to alter it.
But reflection is when we look at our lessons learnt, not merely our history per se.
So when I have dusted off the books of my past, to learn from a previous experience, I have found that my life has always been in one of two phases;
On a comfort island
Swimming through change.
The boundaries of each aren’t black and white, but my life has (and will) continuously interchanged between the two.
On my comfort island, life is safe and predictable. I know I have the skillset to achieve tasks with minimal effort.
I love being here, bathing in the sun of the comfort island… initially.
There always comes a time when I know I have been on a comfort island for too long though.
I start to feel agitated and I question everything.
“Is this really what I want to be doing?”
“Is there something more out there?”
And I start comparing myself to others,
“Why can’t I have what they have?”
Boredom and the mundane set in and complacency becomes my guiding north star.
Swimming through change
Unlike the comfort island, swimming through change is challenging in the beginning, as there are so many unknowns.
With unknowns comes the loss of control, which leads to the comfort of safety evaporating in an instant.
Fearful questions always arise.
“Am I making the right decision?”
“Do I even know how to do this?”
“Do I have the skills?”
But once I get past the breakwater of change, I start to feel the rhythm in its waves, I learn the tides and currents. I gradually adjust to change and it becomes easier.
To sit or to swim
We don’t want to be swimming in a sea of change our entire life, as this is when we start to feel anxious, unsure, and like we’re drowning.
And likewise, we don’t want to be sitting on a comfort island for eternity, as this sucks the essence out of life.
I picture it like there are many comfort islands, and we swim through change until we reach our next comfort island.
When we arrive at a comfort island we choose how long we stay there. The longer we stay the harder and more daunting change becomes, old fears set in and we are scared to enter the sea of change again.
But the more we move through change, the more comfortable and content we feel with our fears. We understand it is just a phase. We learn, from our past experiences, that a comfort island is always just beyond the horizon, where we will be able to rest, recharge, and get ready to embark through the sea of change once more.
If we wait to have all the answers (to feel safe) before we leave a comfort island, we will never make the decision to leave.
And equally, if the change is too great and we would be swimming for too long, we start to feel swamped and will always return to the comfort island we left. Which makes future change more daunting.
If we don’t leave our comfort islands we become monotonous and complacent. And if we are continuously swimming through change we become tired and lose our sense of belonging.
We are at our most optimum when we enjoy our comfort islands, swim through change to our next comfort island, enjoy it, and then swim through change to our next comfort island.
If you have been swimming for too long, maybe it is time to return to your closest comfort island. Rest, recharge and get ready to swim in a different direction.
We can waste our days simply sitting or swimming too much. The equilibrium between the two is where growth resides: live immediately.