Choosing Courage Over Comfort
Originally posted in November 2016
November marks three months of our new life in Germany. I still haven't decided if it feels like three months or three years. Sometimes it seems as if we've adjusted and adapted so well. Then I hold up a whole line at the grocery store because I didn't read the sign that said "alleen contant" (Dutch for cash only), and the whole store is looking at me like I am the worst. I wish I could say this is a rare occasion that I embarrass myself, but it's a weekly norm.
Last week, I read this insightful and encouraging article from Darling Magazine, "When Uncomfortable, Stay. The Truth About Transition". Words I needed to hear and came at such perfect timing
Through it all I’ve learned that, sometimes, discomfort is the point. We can be so quick to put ourselves in situations where everything feels only normal and right, for the sake of our pride or just because it feels better. Now, almost a year into our new life in the Bay Area, I am more convinced than ever that hard is part of the process. Often, the hard parts are our teachers.
- Sowell, When Uncomfortable, Stay. The Truth About Transition
Just like Sowell, I am an optimist and dreamer. But, let's be honest -- transition can be hard. There are days when I am trying to learn German and I just can't seem to pronounce any words correctly. Sometimes I get yelled at for riding my bike in the pedestrian walkway at the wrong time (bikes are only allowed during certain times of the day). Or a lady at the gym is kindly asking me if I am done with the machine, but I just stare at her blankly waiting for my brain to register what she is saying. For a people pleaser like myself, disappointing others and not being able to properly communicate makes me very uncomfortable.
But it's already taught me so much. Without these uncomfortable moments, I would not be as determined to learn a new language and understand a new culture. It's taught me humility and how important small acts of kindness are. And above all, these uncomfortable moments have taught me patience with both myself and others.
I am a firm believer that growth doesn't come without discomfort. If we stay in our safe, content places, how will we push ourselves in ways we can't imagine? How will we learn new things without falling a few times? One of my favorite authors, Brené Brown talks a lot about vulnerability. Here's one of my favorite pieces from her most recent book:
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
- Brene Brown, Rising Strong
I absolutely love what Brown says about courage and comfort; we cannot have both at the same time. I think this is a reminder we need daily - at least I do. In the 21st Century where comfort and ease is at our fingertips, it's difficult to not only accept discomfort, but to actually choose it.
Think about how much stronger and courageous we are afterwards.