Yesterday as I was driving home I was having a conversation with my best friend that sparked the focus for this week’s blog post. As our conversation progressed, it fell upon the topic of where my life is heading upon finishing my graduate program in May. As always, the subject of where my new home will be brings me anxiety. While I was expounding on the remark, I made the comment “Chicago is comfort…” and I stopped myself in my tracks to process what I had just said. Chicago is on my list of places to look for a job, but I know that it comes from a place of comfort. Chicago is home to me, and it is where some of my strongest ties reside. However, that city represents a place of comfort, and in that type of comfort I don’t see growth. Now before I continue, I want to state that I am not saying there is anything wrong with moving back to your home city, I know plenty of people who move home because it’s financially responsible and/or their home brings the growth they seek. But these are my perceptions of my current situation.
From the beginning I never wanted to stay in Illinois, when applying to colleges I didn’t even apply to any within my home state. I’ve always felt that staying home wouldn’t challenge me in the ways that I sought out. So for undergrad I went to school out of state, and upon graduating I moved to another state, where I knew no one, to start graduate school. In the 18 months of living here, I’ve grown immensely and I’ve come to realize how much growth comes from being uncomfortable. It wasn’t until graduation that I truly pushed myself past my “limits”. I’ve began to face, and conquer, every doubt and fear that I tried to place on myself. I compare myself to the growth of a plant. As a plant grows, so does it roots, and that requires a bigger flower pot. However, the current flower pot is familiar/comfortable, but staying in that pot will stunt the growth of those roots, which stunts the growth of the plant. As the saying goes, A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am no stranger to falling into complacency at times. But I’ve also come to realize that it’s more difficult to fall into complacency when you’re constantly moving outside of your comfort zone. In order to incite growth, one must do something they’ve never done before. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? I will say that familiarity and comfort is not a bad thing, because it’s something we all seek and need at times, but be aware of the impact it has on the progression of your life. With all of this being said, whatever your “Chicago” may be, step outside of that and give yourself the push that you need. Invite change and unfamiliarity into your life. Embrace the new you that is waiting on the other side of comfort. Growth is a decision. It just doesn’t happen. You have to make the decision to change your behaviors, thoughts, and lifestyle.