I feel the need to start this blog out with a question, maybe a question you’ve heard millions of times:
Are you living or you merely existing?
Are you doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing with your life, or are you someone who has to pretend to be happy on the outside, but deep inside you hate your life and desperately wish for more?
If you are just existing – why? Why are you putting yourself through this? What’s stopping you from bettering yourself and finally being happy?
Whether you know it or not, the answer is your comfort zone.
It’s a disease we all face; ultimately a silent, untraceable one that has one purpose: To kill you.
Now, you may be reading this thinking, “Holy smokes, Zoo, that’s a bit harsh don’t you think? Is my comfort zone all that bad?” Well, sexy reader, I’m afraid I have to put my Doctor hat on and tell you that if not treated, your comfort zone will kill you. Maybe not a physical death, but an even worse one: A life with no purpose.
We typically think of our comfort zone as just that: Some place where we feel comfortable, at ease with things. I get that. I embrace it myself, more than I should. The world is crazy, why shouldn’t we have somewhere that makes us feel safe? That makes us feel happy?
The reason is this: No one lived a life of meaning by always playing it safe.
Stop and read that again. Let it marinate in your head.
Let me ask another question: Are you truly happy in your comfort zone? The answer is probably “yes” at first, but over time, you stop being happy and you become despondent. You almost become catatonic and zombie-like. You stay up at night wondering what could have been. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why? It’s simple: even though it’s called your “comfort zone”, it’s really a place that runs on your fear, your self-doubts, and your anxieties. It’s a place that coddles you, that tells you you don’t need to change, evolve, or grow. It allows you to stay at the same place you are currently. It lies to you and tells you what you want to hear.
“You don’t need to do that.”
“What if you fail?”
“What if you’re rejected?”
“What if this doesn’t work?”
“Is it worth it?”
We allow our comfort zone to feed us bullshit that we think is helping us by keeping us away from hurtful things.
Instead our comfort zones stifle us from growing and becoming who we are supposed to be.
It’s amazing to me how close “comfort” and “fear” truly are. In your comfort zone, you feel safe and in control, or so you’re led to believe. Truthfully, you’re afraid to step out and face the unknown. Your comfort zone turns into the fear zone and begins to offer you excuses:
“You’re too old”
“You’re too young”
“You’re not attractive enough”
“You’re not skinny enough”
“You’re too skinny”
“You don’t know what you’re doing”
“You have kids”
“You have a great job, why sacrifice that?”
You allow yourself to listen to these excuses, to listen to the worst parts of yourself. The fear zone and the comfort zone work as a tag team to hold you back from your potential. When fear takes over and make you doubt yourself, who is waiting for you with open arms hoping you’ll run back into their warm embrace? The comfort zone
The comfort zone muddles your decision making. You allow others to dictate what you should and shouldn’t do.
I remember a few years ago, I was contemplating driving to Disney to audition. I had randomly looked at Disney auditions and saw where they were looking for new Citizens of Hollywood performers. If you know me, you know that would be a dream job for me. To interact and have fun with guests and make them laugh is who I am. As I read the description of who they were looking for, I knew I could get this job. It sounded like the job was tailor-made for me. I was in a dark place in my life, and my fear took over. I asked the opinion of a friend, of a mentor, to get the validation I felt I needed.
Instead, that friend fueled my fear. “I don’t know, buddy, that’s a crap shoot. What if you get down there and don’t get it? I’d hate for you to waste your time, your money, and everything for something that’s not a sure thing”.
With the wind taken out of my sails, I decided not to drive to Orlando that night. I let my fear win. I retreated to my comfort zone and grew more bitter and resentful. I fell into a dark, suicidal depression. I still smack myself for not at least trying. For the record, I hold no ill feelings toward my friend; he was doing what he thought was right. I wish I had more faith in myself at the time to jump. I didn’t.
Your comfort zone keeps you from pain. The problem with that is you need pain to grow. We don’t grow in times of prosperity, we grow through the pain.
I’m one of those weird dudes who loves the gym. I love going in, getting hyped up on preworkout, and busting my tail for an hour or two, and leaving with the insane sense of euphoria and exhaustion. I get mad now when I go the gym and I don’t wake up the next day sore. I crave the soreness. Not because I’m some masochist who loves pain. I crave the soreness because it shows me that I’m growing. I have to tear my muscles and break them down in order for them to repair themselves bigger and stronger. It makes me physically a better version of myself.
When you don’t jump, when you don’t stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, you hinder growth. You ultimately keep yourself from becoming the best version of yourself.
In life, you’re either growing or dying. I know that seems like an extremely black and white description, but when you break it down it’s true. To grow means to move, to better. If you’re not moving, you’re staying in the same place. You’ve stunted your potential and your growth.
Silently, you tell the world and yourself that you are okay with mediocrity.
We stay in our comfort zones so we don’t look like fools.
“What if you fail?”
“What will people say?”
“They’ll laugh at you”
“Stay here where it’s safe”
If you go after whatever makes your heart swell, whatever wakes you up in the morning thinking about it, and whatever you go to bed thinking about it night – and you don’t succeed – WHO CARES? YOU WENT FOR IT. You jumped. Maybe this time around doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean the next time won’t.
If you’re concerned about what people think over doing what makes you happy? Your priorities are in the wrong place, but also, you don’t need those people in your life. Surround yourself with like-minded people who want to succeed and want you to succeed more than anything else.
Remember my Disney story? (Author’s Note: Of course you do. It was probably three minutes ago. What a weird writing trope. I digress). Well, a year and a half later I found myself outside a hotel parking lot in Nashville, TN trying to find the nerve to get out of the car and audition. I had taken a day off of work from my day job to go to this audition, but now the dreaded tag team “Fear and Comfort – The Zones” were double-teaming me and making me second guess myself. They almost won the day. I actually accepted that I was living an impostor life and was never going to make my living as a performer again. I was about to put the car in reverse and get out of dodge when I caught my eyes in the rear view mirror. I looked deep into my own eyes for a minute and realized I had to try. Who knew what could happen if I got this audition? It would change my life. At the time, I was living in my hometown of Sparta, doing random standup shows when I could. If I got this role, I would be a full time actor, performing in several shows per week. This was something I’d worked my entire adult life to. How dare I let my fears get the best of me?
I walked into the audition room and had the best audition of my life. As I got into my car and drove away, I knew I had the part.
What was it for? Skeeter
Had I listened to the fear and the comfort, there’s a good chance I’d still be living with my grandma trying to figure out what comes next, instead of performing in front of thousands of people each week.
I almost let fear get me again before I moved. When I finally heard back from the Stampede, I had always assumed I was going to the Pigeon Forge location. I didn’t even know there was a Branson location. When my manager told me, “Can’t wait to have you in Branson!” my heart went into my nutsack. BRANSON? The old folks’ Vegas? Is that really somewhere I want to go? I told him I needed a few days to think about it, and honest to God thought of turning it down. Again, I had to look myself (and my fears) in the mirror and realize I had to jump. I did, and I’m so glad I did.
Stop living in your comfort zone. Stop keeping your dreams at arms length. Chase them. Jump. Make mistakes. Go through some shit.
Stop allowing your fears to consume you. Stop putting things off. Stop living in your excuses. Stop just merely existing.
As a matter of fact, let’s live together. Let’s put our money where our mouths are. I want to help you jump. I want to hold you accountable to it.
I’m challenging all of you to jump for the next 100 days. I’ve put together a Facebook Group called Zoo’s 100 Day Challenge. Think of a goal, a passion, something that you have been thinking of doing for the longest time, but haven’t because of fear, your comfort zone, whatever the case may be. When you join the group, you and I will link up. I’ll help hold you accountable to your goal, and every week we will celebrate victories, or we will see what needs to be done to help you. I want to create a group of people who are willing to jump, who are willing to live, and I want to help you as much as possible.
So, you have until Monday to join the group. This starts Monday June 3rd. I don’t care what the goal is – lose weight, write more, ask someone out, begin to look for a new job, whatever the goal is. We’re going to hold each other accountable, we’re going to step out and make things happen.
We’re going to live.
There’s no risk, there’s no faith.
Let’s live a little, shall we?
See you Monday
Rooting for you