Inside my comfort zone I am around people that I already know, or maybe I'm alone, because being around anyone these days makes me nervous. It makes me feel like I've got to say the right things and make the right moves or the people around me will not like me. So inside my comfort zone are people I already know who for some reason or another are obligated to be around me and be civil. Inside my comfort zone are familiar places like University of Oregon, the Spring-ghetto, the libraries, Sara's Treasures, and Milton Keynes because I know how things operate there. I am rarely going to go to those places and be surprised by something out of the ordinary. I know how to behave in those places. In my apartment or at my parents' house or grandma's house, I don't even have to worry about anything new. I can go there every time and do what I always do. The internet is part of my comfort zone (unless it's on Skype voicechat) because I can always take my time to think about what I'm saying.
Outside my comfort zone is where the magic happens. The magic happens when I perform onstage. Magic happens when I meet new people, maybe people who need someone to listen to their stories. Magic happens when I can readily respond to my fellow human beings with kindness. Magic happens when I catch myself getting worked up or mad and stop and count backwards from five. I learn more outside of my comfort zone. My new placement is currently outside my comfort zone because I don't have it mastered yet. Dating is outside my comfort zone, not because I wouldn't like to date someone, but because it has been so long since I've gone out with someone that I don't believe in my ability to hold it together. After I try something new or open myself to criticism and then come back, I sometimes let myself hold onto my panic. I tell myself that I never want to do that again because it was so frightening. Sometimes I slay the dragon and do a kick-ass karaoke number and feel like a rockstar.
When I leave my comfort zone, it feels like I'm an astronaut doing a space walk and my tether has just been cut. It's terrifying. Sometimes I want to leave, but most times I don't. Mostly I want to stick to what I know, but sometimes I want an adventure, to mark another thing off my list of things I've never done. It's important to my faith practice to get out of my comfort zone so that other people can experience comfort. Sometimes getting out of my comfort zone means having to reevaluate the way I have thought about something for a long time.