July 2018: Comfort Zones

Hey, everybody! K. A. Parker here with your promised monthly update.

In June, I posted about reaching out–how I reacquainted myself with myself by getting rid of social media clutter and reaching out to others. This time, I’m going to talk a little bit about comfort zones and how I try to take the first step out of them.

Ready?

Introversion and Shoes

I’m an introvert. I don’t get out much. I write a lot. I watch anime. I read at night. If that’s not obvious by these monthly blog posts, I hope that’s obvious now.

But at the cost of all this introversion, I realize that I’m not exercising as much as I should. I’m not overweight. I eat my fruits and vegetables and get my calcium from soymilk. But as an African American woman, historically and biologically, I am more likely to die in my sixties from preventable causes than the “average” American woman.

I knew that. I knew it deep down in my soul that if I sat at the computer day after day writing my stories, sure–I’d become a published author. But at what cost? Atrophied muscles? Diabetes? High cholesterol? Lying on my death bed in forty years?

No. I didn’t want to pay that price. And so I got new shoes a few months ago, in the hopes that I’d get back to walking again, since my old shoes might have been giving me my knee aches.

But introversion and perfectionism kept trying to stop me.

Perfectionism and Exercise

Being an introvert means I spend more time in my head than most people. Unfortunately, that’s where the demons also like to lurk.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Those demons that nag and prod at you, telling you that you aren’t good enough.  The ones that shake their head and click their tongue, watching yet another day go by where you don’t do the walk you said you’d do yesterday.

Way back when, I had a pretty good exercise streak. Last year, I started meditating, then pairing it with walking. There’d be a couple of days where I wouldn’t walk ’cause my knee was bothering me and I was afraid of injuring it, but for the most part, I was pretty consistent. Then I started just doing stretches and lifting weights. And then I stopped walking period. Looking back at my calendar, it started getting very inconsistent right around June of 2017–when my grandmother passed away. And so, I tried waking up earlier and moving things around. But then anxiety about my novel and life would get in the way and take over.

And at the end of it all, I slipped right back into my comfort zone of doing no exercise at all. Right back at square one.

How did that happen? Well, my guess is that I was trying to address external things like new shoes and new wake-up times instead of addressing my new feelings about life and death.

Death and Comfort

My grandfather passed away two weeks ago–ironically close to my grandmother’s passing last year, just a few weeks apart. Through their passings, I am reminded that life, should one live it well, can be long and fruitful. It can also be strange and harsh. But above all, life is precious. Whether we like it or not, we will all die. The questions are when and how, and the answers are dependent on each of us.

I say all this not to be morbid and demoralizing. My grandparents lived long, inspiring, and fruitful lives. My hope is that, in leaving things on this personal note, that you are inspired to act and to remember that your feelings of discomfort are temporary things. Death is always with you. Discomfort will always be with you. Instead of avoiding them, lean into both a few inches at a time.

If you are uncomfortable exercising to the point you don’t want to do it, you’re doing it wrong. You’re trying to swim in the deep in end of the pool when you should be on the shallow end first. Step back and listen to your body. Maybe find a coach or invest in a Fitbit to help your measure your steps, then build up the workload.

If you are uncomfortable blogging every day, you’re doing it wrong. You’re trying to be someone you’re not. Step back, and find out what works for you.

It’s okay to want to step out of your comfort zone, but in my experience, you can’t dive head first and expect it to go well. Sometimes, you can. Sometimes, you’re just ready to get the show on the road.

But if you’re sitting here reading this, thinking that you ought to be doing X-Y-Z but love your comfort zone too much, it’s perfectly fine to dip your toes in the pool. It’s fine to dabble. You don’t have to take that giant leap of faith everyone likes to glamorize. Go at your own pace. I swear, you’ll be fine.

Live your life, one step at a time.

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