Comfort with being uncomfortable

Progress and growth only occur outside our own zone of comfort. This is true by definition and practice. Thus, if you want to grow, you will need to be spending time outside of your comfort zone. My advice for you is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. If possible, rather sooner than later, but not too fast. Being uncomfortable is a stress of its own, so pushing yourself too fast might end up with you literally hating the whole process. 

The whole point and end goal is that you like the whole process of being uncomfortable. In my opinion, the biggest yields when spending time outside our comfort zone comes from interactions with other persons. However, for some people, this might be too intimidating. This depends on many factors, one of the factors would be if you are extrovert, ambivert or introvert. The reactions could range from no reaction to physical manifestations of pain. I’ve seen and heard so many introverts cringing to the fact that they have to spend time socializing. Cringing is actually a WEAK description. Some people would stutter or sweat a lot. The type of reaction depends from person to person, from case to case. 

One was particularly interesting to me. 

I was visiting Belgrade for a two-day conference about computer graphics. Part of the schedule was to participate in the presentation about some 3D modeling workflow. It was being held in a nice and comfortable room for movie and presentation projections. It wasn’t big either, as it had about 50 seats at most and a podium with a computer desk for the presenter. There were about 20 people in attendance, including me and my friend. We were sitting in the front row. The presenter stood up from the desk, walked to the center of the podium and started the presentation by saying hello. The next thing that he did was to get to know the attendance a little bit by asking if we are all speaking Serbian or if there were some foreigners. I already knew at this moment why he’s asking that. He was uncomfortable with holding the presentation in English. Unfortunately for him, there were some people in the attendance who were not speaking Serbian, his native language, so he had to give the presentation in English. I personally know the presenter from the company where I was intern in 2017. He was in a different branch office, in Novi Sad, while I was in the Vrsac branch office. 

I remember that he was pretty skillful even back then, so he has had the knowledge and know-how that were enough for a smooth presentation. Yet, he was very nervous from the very start of the presentation. He was so nervous and uncomfortable that even I started to feel uncomfortable like I am somehow responsible for the presentation’s quality. That’s the law of state transference – phenomenon that says that emotions and feelings about something are contagious. In this case particularly, if the presenter is feeling nervous and uncomfortable, there’s a good chance that we’re going to feel the same. The presentation lasted for about 45 minutes if I remember correctly. The techniques presented and tools presented were pretty much all familiar to me, so the presenter’s bad performance didn’t negatively impact my knowledge. During the Questions and Answers session in between, I asked the presenter a question about some industry standards when it comes to triangles polycount in 3D models. He pointed to me that it’s vertices, the dots in space, that count rather than triangles. I got the legitimate answer to the legitimate question. 

When he was giving me the answer, I saw how he was more comfortable and even happy that he got that question. He was finally speaking with a technically savvy person. He was again in his zone of comfort. After the presentation, later that evening, I had spontaneously found the presenter when I was leaving the conference. That’s the first moment when we actually met in person. I told him that I know him from Eipix, the company where I was intern in 2017, and that I recognized his techniques that he was describing during the presentation. I gave him compliments for that because those techniques are very good and I’m using them myself. I’ve also told him that it was very obvious how nervous he was to which he responded with: “Yeah, I know, I was shitting my pants”. That was a funny and honest answer. He was so glad that it all ended. I told him that he shouldn’t have been so nervous because there was no reason. The guy is technically competent. I also said that it’s good that he stepped out of the comfort zone and that he should embrace that and repeat from time to time. He gave me the answer that shocked me and taught me a lot. He told me that he hates social interactions, that he doesn’t feel comfortable at all while speaking English. Although he gave the bad presentation, I was both sympathetic and supportive for him because I know how it feels and what it takes to be brave to hold a public presentation no matter the number of people in attendance. Yet, his vision about it was still pretty much negative. Instead of embracing the fact that he stepped out of the zone of comfort and survived, he’s had it enough. 

This is the exact moment when you need to realize that you’ve made a step forward and grown as a person. This is the exact moment when you have to stop and realize that the majority of people couldn’t even step in the ring while you have not just stepped into the ring but you have also survived. And you don’t have to win because winning is subjective, you just simply have to survive. The fact that many people can’t make that first step drives me motivated to get out of my zone of comfort sometimes even when it’s not necessary. I’m a highly competitive person. It doesn’t necessarily have to be competition with other people. Many times we are actually competing with ourselves. Competitor A is you who doesn’t make that step into the ring and Competitor B is you who does make that step out of the comfort zone and survives. Competitor B is the winner in this case. Do you want to be A or B, the choice is yours.
You might find this relatable. Situations like told above, when we are very nervous for no apparent reason. It happened to me before, but never to that extent. It is understandable that someone can feel uncomfortable in the presence of other persons. It happened to me, has happened to others and probably to everybody at least once in one’s life. It’s a normal and expected thing, especially when we have a comfort of being physically absent while still communicating via the Internet. But, at the end of the day, we are still humans and we are still experiencing real world human interactions, so my argument is that we should at least strengthen ourselves just enough not to suffer psychological meltdown when we have a conversation with a real person. 

It’s crazy to think that something as simple has become a skill of its own and something that can set you apart from others. Even without this negative phenomenon, I think that bad communication is the biggest obstacle on a human’s race path to overall better World and Life. We can’t have any communication, let alone a decent one, if we are so uncomfortable with it. Just like anything else, this is learnable through many ways and techniques. You can make yourself a list of comfort zone challenges. 

Analyze your daily life and behavior. You will see the borders of your comfort zone. The goal is to constantly expand those borders by conquering what is outside of them. But don’t go too crazy or too aggressive in the beginning. There are reasons why our comfort zone has a certain capacity and it has its role in our lives. I would describe it as the window of optimal operation efficiency. My personal favorite technique is having a cold instead of a warm shower. I have to warn you that you might want to consult your doctor on this. Cold showers can really make your heart start pumping blood very fast and this affects the heart, brain and whole body. Personally I never had any problems except for slight dizziness. 

The point of cold shower comfort zone challenge is to challenge yourself and expand your zone of comfort, not to kill yourself. Even splashing few drops of cold water on arms or legs would be enough for the start. Cold shower challenge is a type of challenge where you literally physically experience the expansion of your comfort zone. There are other similar challenges that you might want consider as a substitution or even combination. Try eating the food that you don’t find tasty or drinking something that you never liked. I never liked to drink whey and could never drink tomato juice, which is kind of counterintuitive considering the fact that I like ketchup. 

The key point about these challenges is that you are willingly putting yourself up against the fear and uncomfortable situation. In this way, you are training your brain and your whole being to not be as intimidated by uncomfortable situations. Also, you are improving your willpower and you are increasing the conscious control over the things you find uncomfortable. Another good example of relatively easy yet effective ways to get out of comfort zone is to try getting up from bed early. Advanced version of that would be to get up early and go for a walk or do a light exercise. 

Again, understand yourself, your personality, your daily routine and then work on that gradually but consistently.

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Valsogard Enterprise LLC
16192 Coastal Highway, Lewes
Delaware 19958, USA