Photo’s from 3 of my trips this summer. Copenhagen and Croatia were solo-trips, and Milan was with my wonderful twin sister and mother.
I’m a creature of comfort. There is nothing better than that sink-back-in-your-sofa kind of comfort. Comfort of all kinds, be it in your sofa, in your own skin, or when interacting with others can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Unfortunately for me, I’m pretty sure it can also be one of life’s greatest vices. Whilst the achievement of certain types of comfort, like that experienced in your own skin, can be the result of a jaw-clenchingly uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding pursuit (2 years ago I would’ve rather shot you in the face than leave the house without makeup on, and nowadays I flaunt my scarred skin and sparse eyebrows with pride), only gravitating towards comfortable environments seems to me, like one of the more stagnant and lazy choices that I could make in life. I can’t imagine a world in which I can confidently, let alone truthfully, claim that my comfort cove of under-brewed green tea, a few close friends, a large podcast library and Judith Hill – Desperation/Terry Dexter – Peace Within playing on repeat is conducive to growth and progression in any sphere of my life.
Thus, 99.9% of the time I soldier on past the giant red flashing sign labelled ‘STOP-HERE-APPROACHING-END-OF-COMFORT-ZONE-DEATH-IS-LIKELY’ that exists in my psyche, in the hopes of growing and learning; leaving the caterpillar phase behind me, and blossoming into a beautiful back-pack wearing butterfly. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone feels like diving head first into the adriatic sea, and whilst air-borne forgetting how to swim. But when 0.2 inches from plunging to your death, knowledge of how to move your limbs in a co-ordinated water-suitable manner, is miraculously recalled to memory. It feels like holding your breath that bit too long, and then the subsequent intake of breath being more satisfying than anything you can recall to memory. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone is a constrict and release mechanism. It’s like being so hungry you feel like you are going to pass out, and then rapidly inhaling an entire plate of pesto pasta. (Me in Milan.)
I recently found myself sailing around Croatia with 7 other individuals, whose present-day experience of life couldn’t have been farther from my own. All Caucasian. All aged 30-5o+. There was monumental disparity between how they perceive the world, and are perceived in the world, and in how I perceive the world, and am perceived in the world. There I was, a little black 21 year old teeny bopper. I had 2 camera’s strapped to me, with my if-in-doubt-smile defence mechanism working overtime. Not to mention, continually feeling self-conscious about attempting to explain how ‘content creator’, ‘work‘, ‘payment per post ‘ ‘travel client’ ‘instagram’ and ‘blog’ succinctly captured what exactly it was I was doing on that boat. Oh, and why I would be bashfully asking ‘Can you help me take a photo, please?’ every 0.5 seconds.
The constrict phase lasted 3 or so days. Anxiety was to me what custard is to apple crumble. Sweaty palms were to me, what Aperol is to prosecco. Overthinking was to me, what cheese and onion Monster Munch are to a dust bin. (Note: this is not up for debate. Those crisps are revolting). And what happened in the following 8 days can only be described with reference to a Beyonce song. (Note: Most of the important things in life can be described with reference to a Beyonce song.) If the initial days were the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd chorus of ‘Love on Top’, then the rest of the days were the final chorus of ‘Love On Top’ on repeat. The experience reached a crescendo. The former boundaries of my comfort zone were a thing of my under-brewed-green-tea-stained past, and the new boundaries included connecting with, learning from, and engaging with an amazing, intelligent and hilarious group of individuals. What an unexpected joy it was. The most unexpected joy? Each instagram photo taken was referred to as a “glamour shot”; always uttered in an undeniably endearing Canadian accent that made my british accent seem stiff in comparison. If any of my australian-canadian-croatian sailor family are reading, thank you for a wonderful time.
Shope, always remember to push yourself past the constrict phase. You never know what lessons may be waiting for you on the other side.