Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Confession Tuesday - Living Outside My Comfort Zone Edition

In front of Shakespeare & Co., Paris

Dear Readers,

It's been two weeks and three countries since I've last written.  Yes, I was traveling.  It's been a long time since I've traveled like this.  It would not be strange I've been planning this trip for the last twelve years--yes, this is how long it takes me do something new.

This is not to say I've never travelled.  I have.  Six weeks on trains with a backpack & my best friend throughout Europe after graduating from the University of Washington.  In 1996, before I quit my corporate job, I took off to London with my husband because I was losing my mind (I came home a vegetarian then quit my job, sold our house, and moved to a community of less than 3000 people).

But I've forgotten what it means to live.  I've forgotten that younger self who said "We're off!"

Two days before I left for London as I went to pick up my mail in my comfortable neighborhood and comfortable small town, I thought to myself: Why on earth did I plan this vacation to London?  Why did I think this would be a good idea?

Yes, my name is Kelli & I love my comfort zone.

We need to talk about this and how it's changing...little by little.
Hanging with Charlie Chaplin on Portobello Road, London

To the confessional--

I confess this year I told myself I want to stretch outside my comfort zone.  I knew there was going to be a forced stretching because last year I booked a flight for my family to London, knowing I would need a year to get used to this idea.

I think when I booked it, I never really assumed it would come up.  Like having a great idea, but knowing it will never happen, and that's okay because it's easier that way anyway.

So I booked us a flight to London last May.  Then my family decided that since Paris was close, we'd take the Eurostar there for a couple days (of course, we will, everyone loves underwater travel, yes?!)  When I heard this idea the only think I could think of was "The Eurostar goes under the English Channel- I am going to feel claustrophobic, the walls will leak, there will be a bomb and we'll all die a cold watery death."  Of course, what I said was, "Sounds great!  Of course, we can do that!"

Yes, normal people might think-- how cool!  But me, every time we decided to do something on our trip, I'd imagine the worst possibilities, the worst feelings, the worst outcome - Lord help me and my overactive imagination.

But here's the thing--all my anxiety happened *before* the trip. When in the moment, I'm rarely nervous.  In fact, I don't remember being nervous once in the entire two weeks.

I wasn't nervous on the plane (honestly, on the way over I was mostly asleep).  I wasn't nervous in the Chunnel-- it just felt like a regular tunnel & my ears didn't even pop.  I wasn't nervous on the London Eye or at any time during our trip.

Sometimes I think there is a part of me that enjoys the comfort of feeling anxious, I understand anxiety, it's been my friend for a long, long time.  I know how to fret about something and then when everything is okay, I can believe my magical thoughts made it so (i.e.  because I worried about the trip, nothing happened).

But on this trip, I was having so much fun and was so freaking tired from the jetlag, I forgot to worry.  And things were *still* okay.  Imagine.

I am reminding myself how much I enjoy traveling so I will do it again.

I know my default is to stay home.  Since I was a child, my sister has referred to me as "an old lady" and not because of sensible shoes, but because I'm the one who always chooses to stay home, to skip whatever-interesting-event is happening, to choose comfort over anything else.

But I'm learning.  Slowly.

To realize life is to be lived.  Not watched.  Or feared.  Or formulated.

It's a hard task for an Emily Dickinson type person.  I'm no longer happy sending bread down in a basket from my bedroom window to the neighborhood children below.  I want to the be the one running through the field (and maybe with scissors)...well, safety scissors.  I still err on the side of caution, but when I do, at least I'm standing at a crosswalk in sensible shoes in a different country deciding what to do next.


~ Kells

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  1. I love the idea of being comfortable with anxiety. I can relate to that. Better than when people thrive on needing drama.

    Funny, my husband and I went on a trip to Japan with his brother, and when I returned I decided to go to graduate school which later on resulted in me leaving my corporate job.

    Oh the places we will go, and the things they will make us do :)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing about your anxiety-free trip to England AND France. I am so proud of you, Kelli, but most of all you should be proud of yourself.


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