Uncomfortable. That was my youngest daughter’s response when I asked her how she was feeling after her first day of college classes last year. Uncomfortable.
Approximately five days prior to this response, I dropped her off for her first year of college, and after a few trips to and from our car to her dorm room, everything changed. New city. New school. New residence. First roommate. First time living away from home. New people. New classes. New experiences. New routines.
When it came time to say good-bye, I found myself feeling immensely uncomfortable, and she was the one comforting me. While I would be returning to the familiar surroundings that she was leaving, I faced my own changes and was feeling uncomfortable. Being an empty nester. Preparing to remarry. Exploring new opportunities. Figuring out how to reinvest my time and energy.
Although we both had eighteen years to prepare for this milestone of going away to college, we still had plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable. My daughter’s descriptor summed it well.
It is human nature to avoid what makes us feel uncomfortable and to seek solace in familiarity, even if the familiarity prevents us from growing and reaching our greatest and highest good. We weren’t meant to stay comfortable, but how do we get comfortable with being uncomfortable? It turns out that the answer can be found within the word uncomfortable itself.
Understand that feeling uncomfortable is a normal part of transitions and changes, not necessarily a signal that we need to abandon ship and return to port. Change, even change for the better, can be scary and overwhelming, and it can send us scurrying back to the safety of certainty. There’s nothing wrong, in and of itself, with this, but if we never give ourselves the chance to experience feeling uncomfortable, the safety net of familiarity can become an anchor that weighs us down and stuck.
Create comfort. When feeling uncomfortable, it is important to comfort yourself along the way. Go back to the basics of proper nutrition, rest, and physical movement. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Engage in activities that bring you joy. Remind yourself of previous times you survived feeling uncomfortable, and believe that you can do it again, because you can and will.
Discover just how able you really are. When we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable and still make the decision to keep going, we build our resilience, learn new skills, and find out that our abilities far outnumber our limitations. It leaves us with a sense of accomplishment that comes from growing through, rather than avoiding or resisting, a challenge.
In a world of instant gratification, there still is something to be said for getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. No matter where you are right now on the uncomfortable spectrum, know that your comfort zone awaits you on the other side. That is one of the rewards of this process, and it is yours to claim in due time.
When you are facing a change, whether you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, I am ready to support you.