I’m a creature of habit. My husband is my high school sweetheart – we’ve been together for almost 11 years. We bought my grandparent’s house as our first home – the home in which I spent my first 5 years of life, and nearly every Sunday thereafter. I’ve been going to the same gym for 8 years, the same hairdresser for 8, the same nail girl for 6. I eat basically the same foods Monday through Friday on a seasonal basis almost all year-long. Maybe it’s because I’ve been able to figure out what works for me and stuck with it, but I also must admit that in part, it’s due to the fact that I’m afraid of change. I’m one of those people who has a clearly defined comfort zone and has a difficult time stepping outside of it. At least I used to be.
As of late, or really, since I’ve become a Mom, I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone more frequently than I have cared for. Each of these times I’ve learned something, and more often than not, I’ve learned a lesson about myself. In general I’ve found that I don’t give myself enough credit. I under-estimate my intelligence, my strength, my humor, my adaptability, etc. For me, leaving my comfort zone doesn’t necessarily mean doing something crazy, or totally out-of-the-box. A lot of the time it just means doing something completely benign. Like running with a friend, or going to a play-date with a few other moms and kiddos that I don’t really know very well. I’m sure to many the fact that something so seemingly normal is uncomfortable to me is probably pretty weird. For me …. it’s comfortable.
I think in most cases our comfort zones are made of confidence and security and stepping out of them leaves us in a vulnerable state where we arent exaclty sure what to expect. I know how I run on my own – how I pace myself, what playlist gets me going, whether I want to sing outloud, take a walk break, or do some speed work. I don’t know how my friend runs. Whether she likes to listen to music or expects me to chat, whether she’ll want to take a walk break at all, or keeps close track of her pace on her Garmin. I know how I play with my toddler, what snacks she likes, what her favorite games and toys are, when she needs a time-out, or a quiet book-break. I don’t know how other moms deal with their kiddo’s terrible-two fits, or how a group of four nearly two-year-old girls will play together for several hours in a home that is not theirs, and with toys that I can almost guarantee there are not quadruplets of. So, today when I was invited to do each of these things – run with a friend, and have a play-date with some moms and kiddos that I don’t really know very well – I immediately said, YES! And then I remembered that I would be completely out of my comfort zone.
A few years ago I would’ve declined both invitations, assuming that it would be a waste to run with someone else, because I would definitely slow them down and make a fool of myself, and if I got together with a group of girls I didn’t really know, I would be the ugliest, dumbest, and least funny, or relevant person there. It irks me to even say that I would have felt that way, but it’s true. Becoming a Mom has instilled a desire within me to love myself and to believe in myself so that my daughter could love and believe in me, but more importantly, so she would know how to love and believe in herself. Raising a little girl is my life’s greatest challenge. I want her to be everything that I am, everything that I wanted to be, strived to be, failed to be, dreamed of being, and more. The old saying “monkey see, monkey do” is quite true, I think, in parenting. Modeling a behavior is the quickest way to get your child to catch on and do it themselves. So, how can I expect that she challenge herself to try new things if I don’t do it?
Maybe I will be slower than my friend during our run on Thursday. But maybe I won’t. And maybe when G and I get together with her friends and their moms on Friday I won’t have anything interesting to add, or I’ll forget how to parent …. but I doubt it. I’m sure that I’ll still be alive on Saturday, and probably more comfortable than ever.