The problem with a comfort zone is it can easily become a prison. We like the safety of boundaries, but we long for freedom beyond its borders. We peer into the distance and witness fun and adventure. But the fear of looking the fool or feeling incompetent keeps us locked within.
For me, this manifests itself most in sporting activities.
I am not an athlete (Delilah’s voice again…) In the past, I enjoyed swimming, volleyball, and tennis. I adored the pool from the time I was three years old. The most agonizing time of day was waiting an hour after lunch to get back into the water. At the age of nine, Dad suggested I join the local swim team. I froze. Even at that young age, I knew the pressure of winning would diminish any love of the sport.
I was an avid tennis player in high school. I would play for hours every day, despite triple-digit heat index. I enjoyed volleying the ball back and forth, and I adored the physical workout. I could hold my own with members of the team. BUT… I never played a game. I never kept score. The stress was too great.
Team sports were even more debilitating. I couldn’t handle the burden of a perfect performance each game. I like baseball, but …What if I strick out? What if I miss the fly ball and the winning run scores? What if I’m not fast enough to beat the throw?
Now that I’m older and not quite as spry, strenuous sports are not what I see on the horizon. But I do see yoga (What if I can’t hold the pose? What if I look awkward?) – hiking (What if I trip on a rock? What if slow down the group?) – camping (What if I see a snake?). I am still paralyzed by fear of the less-than-perfect.
I also yearn for adventure into less athletic arenas. I admire quilting but I can’t sew. I like photography but I can’t compose a shot. I fear the imperfection, the criticism of others, and Delilah’s gloating.
Fear tells me the only thing that matters is winning, but Joy simply asks I savor the journey.