Not The Comforts of Home

Hello, Dear Reader! I’m writing this from the boonies of southern Iowa by way of my phone. I’m also without the assistance of Grammarly, so be forewarned. I’m a somewhat solid writer, but I fear I won’t win any prizes with today’s post. But, if I may redeem myself, I have sweat pouring down my back, and it’s headed to my nether regions, and yet, I’m here to visit with you. That should be worth a little grammatical grace, right?

The point of this trip is threefold:

  1. My kiddo is with the other half of his DNA this week, so I’m taking advantage of my free time.
  2. I wanted to try car camping and, yes, I’d prefer it to be cooler, but it isn’t.
  3. I’m uncomfortable, which is the point of this trip and today’s post.

I’ve spent the last few years being comfortable. Or, more accurately, avoiding being uncomfortable by ignoring my needs. Last August, I had a revelation that catapulted me into my fiftieth year with new insight. I knew I needed to make some changes, but I wasn’t sure how to move forward.

Fast forward nearly a year, and you’ll find me on the other side of several uncomfortable and challenging experiences. I’m no longer in a dead-end relationship, I sold my home in a town I never really liked, and I’ve (somewhat) reconciled with my ex-husband. (“Reconciled” as in I no longer cast spells on him. Not reconciled reconciled.) But none of those things came without some rather painful moments.

So, last night, as I sat in my car to avoid all the mosquitos, sweating my ass off and praying it would cool down enough to fall asleep, I briefly thought “Fuck this. I’m leaving and finding a Super 8”. But I stopped myself – even though it was excruciatingly balmy. I stopped myself because I want this to be the year that I continue to push through things that are challenging and hard. So what does that look like? Fuck if I know, but I can already see progress.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get real, shall we?

Before we get to my point, it’s safe to assume that no one, if given options, will choose ‘the uncomfort’. Right? If you disagree, well fine. Read on anyway. I’m not sure I believe you…but whatevs.

My point is: No one wakes up one day and says, “Hey, I think I’d like to have a negative experience today.” I didn’t plan this trip with that idea at all. I didn’t think “Hey, I’d like to camp in a hidden piece of property in the middle of Iowa in the sweltering heat with no place to shit or shower while fighting an army of pigeon-sized mosquitos. After that, I’d like to lose my deodorant and travel though the rest of the state in the sweat soaked underwear and t-shirt I slept in while I look for a public library and a free source of body-washing water facilities.” I promise you this trip did not include any of that.

We all avoid being uncomfortable as much as we can because discomfort connotates a negative experience. Don’t believe me? Then come watch my nine year-old as the Wifi goes down. 

Physical discomfort can mean pain, and psychological discomfort can mean anxiety or sadness. As I drove up on the property last night and was instructed by the owner to ‘head on up that there hill to the camp’ – while passing a homemade axe throwing station – I can assure you that my anxiety levels went up and I was glad my fella subtly suggested the Glock I decided to bring at the last minute.

So why push through the discomfort? Why put ourselves through all that? As it turns out, discomfort is the key to success. Success? You ask. Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

  1. You could fail. Yes, you could. So what? I pushed through the night and will move through one more, even though it’s hot AF.
  2. You’ll get a good dose of dopamine. Interestingly, Forbes states that putting yourself in unfamiliar situations makes your brain produce dopamine—the feel-good chemical. In other words, once you actually put yourself into a new situation or give yourself a new challenge, you’ll start to feel good. And if you can combine those good feelings with a positive attitude regarding what you can accomplish simply by trying something new—even if you don’t get it right the first time—you can turn fear of failure into motivation to succeed. You know what I did – all stinky and needing a shower and a nap? Went to a wine tasting. And no one cared. I found a little happiness in a glass at the Madison County Winery. I had some great wine and good conversation and met a super friendly woman who offered me her spare room should I ever find myself in the area again. I could have easily poo-pooed that idea because I didn’t ‘feel’ presentable, but (you guessed it) I thought “Fuck it. I’m here. I’m thirsty. I’m going.”
  3. You’ll invite creativity into your life. I get it…the comfort zone is such a safe place. But if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life daily. When you go out of your way to experience new things or let new things happen to you, your body creates new neural pathways that fuel your creative spark and enhance your memory. I needed this trip because my fictional characters are just sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to develop their story. I’ve been unmotivated and uninspired for so many months because I’ve been ‘comfortable’. I’m tired of feeding the complacency. 

I’m not saying uncomfortable experiences are lovely. In fact, I’m saying that all painful experiences are scary and barely tolerable. But I am saying, feel the fear and do it anyway. Repeat that: Feel. The. Fear. And. Do. It. Anyway.

As I wrap up my time in this nice air-conditioned public library in Boone, Iowa, I give you your song. This song is the fight song of all songs when it comes to pushing through the fear. Plus, the singer/songwriter pushed through all his own anxiety and doubt to make it to where he is today. He was told a million times that he was not going to make it and he did it anyway. (Watch the documentary here).

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