Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comfort Zone

I've never thought of myself as being particularly adventurous. I'm a planner, a lover of order and predictability, a Virgo.
Before a trip to the grocery store I still map out a week's worth of meals and make a list of needed ingredients.
 I remember keeping a log in high school of the outfits I had appeared in that week so that I could avoid the social death of wearing the same thing too often.

 Not exactly madcap spontaneity.

So how does someone like me with a comfort zone no larger than a safety deposit box explain some of the choices I've made in my life? I married young, immediately had two children, and settled into life as a cookie-baking, carpool-driving stay-at-home mom, and you might think that would be the end of adventure for a while, at least. But then I couldn't seem to stay put.

I think it began with Girl Scouts. Before I knew what I had done, there I was in the middle of nowhere, building a campfire, responsible for 15 little girls who actually thought I knew what I was doing. If I could manage that, maybe I could try other things.

I took a deep breath and went back to school. At thirty years old and with two kids, I had nothing in common with the eighteen year olds and twenty-somethings in my class. I discovered that my two-year degree in television production required internships and soon I found myself standing in blood in an operating room and later running camera at a Muscular Dystrophy telethon.

After my children were older, my job as the Public Access
Coordinator for our local cable company took me out on shoots where I was always odd-person-out -  the only female, and usually older than anyone else there. A personality profiler would have said that the last place someone like me belonged would be operating a hand-held camera on stage at a rock concert, or recording from a helicopter, but there I was.

        Returning again to school to complete my Bachelors and finally, my Masters degrees while working and raising teenagers was also a challenge since my first round of college in my twenties had been more successful socially than academically.  

The most terrifying gig of all, though, was becoming a teacher, the worst possible career for someone with a love of control but with underdeveloped disciplinary skills. After my first week, most of which was spent trying to keep class after class of restless thirteen-year-olds in their seats and dealing with one student who literally ran around and around the room, I found myself by my car at the end of the day asking why I’d worked so hard to get where I was.

  A seasoned and hard-boiled colleague was also at her car and so I asked, “Did you ever have days where you ask yourself if you belong here?”
She turned to me with a cold look and said, “Maybe you don’t.”

And yet after having that bucket of frigid advice thrown at me, I continued to teach and learned to love it.
But every now and then I still had those moments of looking out at twenty-eight pairs of eyes (okay, maybe fifteen since the rest were focused on their texting) and feeling amazed at where I’d ended up. 


  1. I used to have a black mollie that did that--rode the pump current through the tank, up the other side, jumped the bowl and landed back in the down current. We watched him do this for months. One day he came home and found he'd missed.
    So glad you never missed.

  2. My mom taught for a couple of years before kids. Her principal told her not to smile at all until Christmas.

  3. You have a great background if experience. The class of thirteen year olds should have been a cinch. I think you found teaching rewarding career even though there were days when you could walk away.

  4. Wow you've done a lot!
    I love my comfort zone and I'm never leaving it.

  5. Jack Canfield said that all we want is on the other side of fear. Sounds like you felt the fear and did things anyway. I say good for you, you're richer for it and I'm sure have some great stories. Brava!

  6. For some reason I've never felt like I was where I belonged....I think I've made a lot of wrong decisions and then just went with the flow to the best of my ability. There's worse things you can do lol. Sounds like you ended up very happy with your decisions and I'm happy for you.

  7. I think that conquering our comfort zone is the only sure fire way to a happy and fulfilling life :)

  8. Wow, that WAS a tough-love approach to answering your question, wasn't it? I guess your coworker wanted you to think about it more. I'm glad that it's worked out for you. I think a huge part of life is taking the path that presents itself -- I mean, it's not ALL luck and circumstance, as your hard work attests, but seizing opportunities sometimes takes us places we don't expect!

  9. You obviously realized that you did belong there. I have such huge respect for teachers, especially today. Too bad phones can't be left at the door. Don't know how kids today learn anything glued to those devices.

  10. I usually had my nose buried in whatever book I was reading t the time. would piss my English teacher off. I always thought she should be happy I was reading. anyway you don't seem constrained by any sort of comfort zone to me. and what great experiences!


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