Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Comfortable Doesn't Necessarily Mean Happy

On a recent visit to Texas, I bought an inspirational magnet at my sister’s gift shop. It reads: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I intended to give the magnet as a gift but kept if for myself instead.

My friend, Alison, posted the same quote today on Facebook, asking friends to comment on what the statement means for them. Which got me thinking…

Despite my well-laid plans for a comfortable life (which I described as no surprises, no ups, no downs), I have consistently been faced with a flashing sign warning me: Scary stuff ahead! Leave comfort zone at your own risk! And yet, I kept going despite the fear and discomfort.
  • I grew up in a town of 1,200 people yet picked a university of 48,000 to attend.

  • My husband and I gave up a house, our cars and our careers and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to work for the UN.

  • A second time, we gave up a house and careers (and Washington, DC salaries) to move to Durango, CO, where we now feel richer than we have at any point in our lives. And it has nothing to do with money.

  • In July 2009, I asked my employer if I could work part time so I could devote time to writing fiction and developing a career as a novelist. And today, I’m working on novels number two and three, and pitching finished novel number one to literary agents.

So, dear friends, what comfort zone have YOU left and was it worth it?


  1. After the death of my girlfriend in 2005, and after years of struggling to "make it" artistically in Austin, TX, I finally threw my hands in the air and surrendered. Sold/gave away everything I owned except my guitar and a few clothes, found a job overseas, bought a ticket and said goodbye to all my friends. Only THEN was my cup empty enough to hold the blessings that would come showering down. Best thing I ever did in my life!

  2. Hoo boy - I spend more time leaving comfort zones than enjoying them. The most recent was relocating from NYC back to Taos to pursue writing full time. (Next to impossible in New York, unless you don't care about sleep.)

    I had made contacts and friends, found a nice apartment I could afford, and learned how to live with 8 million other people - no small feat. But still, I knew that if my goal was to write full time, I'd have to leave all that and come back to where there's less opportunity/energy/best of everything, but more time and space. Because time and space are what writers need most.

    And I'm not worried. I've done this so many times now - leaped off the gangplank - that despite some jitters and temporary bouts of insecurity, I know it will work out. Always does.

  3. Transracial adoption of special needs kids has taken me out of my comfort zone several times! ;-)

  4. Mandy,

    Just poking around on your blog and came across this. What an amazing coincidence!
    Thanks for a great blog post!