i recently overheard some man congratulate some woman on finding her comfort zone, i think in a new job. he was happy, she was happy. and the conversation’s tone implied they were both relieved she’d made the adjustment, like, “that’s finally over. now we can get back to the juicy status quo.”
i just stared and thought, “danger ahead!” it was a surprising snapshot of how some people view risks and challenges. full disclosure: i used to be one of those people.
most of us know the comfort zone is really a farce. it’s a place of complacency and calm where nothing happens, but the mind plays all manner of tricks on you to maintain stability and you could delude yourself into thinking,
i’m a renter in the comfort zone, not a buyer. i’ll be out soon. besides, if i’m comfortable, won’t i feel safer seizing the opportunities everyone’s talking about, the ones allegedly outside this space?
the whole term “comfort zone” is too generous. “comfort,” as always, sounds snuggly, warm, and safe. i’m protected but moving forward.
the larger issue is this “zone” business. that’s a lie giving the illusion of movement, like being “in the zone,” where you’re producing, moving along, and dynamic. but let’s face it, you aren’t progressing if you're completely at peace.
once you’ve combined the two ideas- coziness in a defined space, you’re doomed. because there’s nothing roomy about being smashed up against everything familiar to you. that’s a static place.
now, i haven’t (yet?) been in a straightjacket but they look pretty cozy, right? they provide an illusion of security. although people in straightjackets basically look swaddled, they never look happy. at the end of the day they’re constricted and locked in.
just like the psych ward staff puts at-risk patients into straightjackets to protect them* we’re in straightjackets we’ve put on ourselves for a semblance of control.
but this is actually the good news, because it means we also have the way out.
if this sounds like you, start investigating what repels you—the far-out-there ideas, the too-risky-for-me adventures, and the bound-to-fail opportunities.
my gripe isn’t merely about connotation. it becomes a psychological issue, since the words we use affect us over time. so call it what it is, a comfort straightjacket and see how your desire for it diminishes.
*look, i’m sure straightjackets were/are misused and psychiatric patients get questionable care nation-wide, but both points are beyond the scope of this post. focus on the image, the symbolism.