Recently I wrote a guest blog post, Thriving Requires Letting Go of the Lies, for Sue’s Over Fifty and Thriving series. The idea for that post was inspired by the book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis (my review here). I have since decided to turn the subject into a new blog series: The Lies I’ve Believed.
In the original guest post, I introduced Delilah, my harsh inner critic who constantly reminds me I am not good enough, brave enough or smart enough. Her loud, commanding voice tells me I am better off alone than out in the world pursuing my dreams. She is quite convincing.
But I’m tired of living this way. I’m merely existing rather than embracing an abundant life. It is time to replace Delilah’s lies with the truth.
This week’s lie: Comfort zones are comfortable.
Let me take you on a short journey of my adult life.
In 1986 I married my college sweetheart. I wanted to start a family right away; he wanted to enjoy the DINK life a little longer (Dual Income No Kids). We compromised and moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village.
I worked as a market research analyst for one of the city’s top financial institutions, and Geoff started Citibank’s Tax Shelter Center. While living in the Big Apple was fun and exciting, I disliked my job. Corporate America rewarded mediocrity. I am an academic who always strives for the A. Four years later our first child was born, and I willingly settled into the Stay-At-Home-Mom roll.
I enjoyed being the primary caregiver of my children. I enjoyed taking care of our house and making it a home. As an introvert, I relished my time alone during naptime. I did not have to divide my loyalties. I could devote 100% attention to family.
In 1997 I attended a Creative Memories gathering. Like many other families, we kept our treasured photos in plastic tubs under the bed. I yearned for a system that would allow us to enjoy the memories, and this company offered the perfect solution. Over the next several months, I fully embraced their mission statement: Enrich the Past – Inspire the Present – Provide Hope for the Future. I eventually became a consultant.
This decision required me to confront my comfort zone for the first time.
Public speaking was one of my greatest fears. I am not a salesman. But I believed in the mission. So I risked taking a small step outside that comfort zone to help spread the message.
My first several shows were small – maybe two or three women in attendance. Even though my knees shook and my throat parched, I managed to complete the presentation and answer all questions. Over the next several months my fears transformed to joy. I wasn’t selling a product, I was demonstrating how to leave a legacy.
I maintained this lifestyle for about three years: full-time SAHM with a part-time direct sales business. I settled nicely into a new comfort zone.
All that changed in 2001 when I was asked to teach sixth grade. I did not have the skills nor qualifications. I certainly did not have the patience. But I had the desire to send my eldest to the school of her choice. By accepting this position, she could attend for half price.
For the first three months, I barely kept two steps ahead of the class. I was angry, frustrated, and resented God. Why did He take me out of my home? Wasn’t motherhood a noble profession? I was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving transformed my attitude. Instead of following my prepared lesson plan, I decided to stop by the local grocery store and pick up the weekly circular. As a class, we decided how much food to prepare for a fictitious family of sixteen. We created the menu, developed the recipes, and listed all the necessary ingredients. Then we used the circular to make a shopping list. Math skills were essential in deciding how much food to buy and how to maximize finances. They estimated the cost of the meal and the cost per person.
We had a blast – and I realized perhaps I could teach after all. My comfort zone increased.
That sixth-grade class led to a dozen years teaching a variety of classes: elementary writing and grammar, computer apps, 7th – 9th grade English, British Literature, yearbook, and dual-credit English Comp. Each additional course offering expanded my comfort zone a bit more.
Teaching all those English classes eventually awakened a latent desire to write. I enrolled in a Masters program where I attended class with students young enough to be my children. Comfortable? Not on your life! But the benefits were priceless.
I wrote and published three books in 2017. Currently, I am working on book two of the middle-grade Travel through Art series and a companion book for Journaling toward Wholeness. I have ideas for several more middle-grade novels, a half-dozen journaling prompt publications, and eventually, I will write Delilah’s story.
I have traveled so far down the path from my original SAHM life that I don’t recognize the old me. What if I never confronted my fear and became a Creative Memories consultant? Where would I be if I said “no” to growth and chose to remain cocooned? It is well worth the effort to break free and become the butterfly.
The truth: Comfort zones are prisons.