Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable

Flipping through the dozens of pages filled with stories of the past, I arrive at an empty page. I begin to ponder over what specific event in my life that I should recount on. Taking pieces of memories, I uncapped my pen and let the ink slowly spill out as my emotions did the same–allowing each word to stand still, frozen in time, as I myself too am freezing, as my mind flashes back to write a story. 

As each stroke of my pen touched the surface of the page, with each tiny release of ink, I wrote about finding comfort in the uncomfortable. 

“...I recently saw an art piece that perfectly described the growth of an individual. There was a drawing of a stacking point pencil which was all the rage in elementary school. It showed how when a nib would finish, we didn’t throw it away. Instead, we would stick it back in so that a new one could surface. Well, at first I didn’t get the metaphor it was trying to make. But as I read through the art more, it suddenly made sense. The artist explained to think of the used nibs as your past self–they are stacked together to make who you are today…” - February 2022

I had always been a person who enjoyed being in the shadows of others. And I was content with that. I never felt the need to branch out or talk to new people. I didn’t feel the need to challenge myself by feeling discomfort. All throughout my childhood, I clung onto every little bit of comfort I could find everywhere I went, allowing others to soak in the space instead. In a way, I was running away from what I had considered a “threat” at the time. That was until high school came around. 

Whether it was interacting with students who I had never spoken to before, or simply raising my hand to answer a question, it was obvious that I avoided any challenge–or rather anything that would make me feel uncomfortable. Just the slightest thought of conversing with strangers transcended into sweat on my palms, giving me anxiety over whether I can surpass my introvertedness and hold meaningful connections with individuals. 

High school encompassed a series of phases that I endured through. Each day I criticized myself for not saying “this” or not saying “that.” I was filled with constant worry about the perceptions people would form of me. I cowered in fear over the thought of having to do something that required stepping out of my comfort zone. As a result, from these past four years, I can recall many mistakes and awkward moments that I have had with people.

At times, the words “if I had done this back then…” continuously crossed my mind everyday. I thought of every potential scenario of where I could have done something better. I tore myself apart in every way possible. 

In spite of all of this, if you had told me that in my last year of high school that I would:

  • Have recited a poem in the auditorium with a large audience 
  • Have purple hair 
  • Make new friends (yes, very cliche but true.)
  • Wear platform Dr. Martens everyday
  • Come out as pansexual.

I most definitely would have glared at you, and most likely run away from the insanity that came out of your mouth.

Now I would be lying to the reader if I said I still don’t get nervous or am not socially awkward with individuals. Every now and then the thought of correcting a scenario in my head tends to spring into mind. Just last week I presented my first presentation since sophomore year in my AP Language & Composition class and a peer thought I was going to burst into tears, even despite having flashcards handy to help me remember what I had to say. As I’m writing this, I can still vividly remember the trembling voice and the gasp for air I had to take every few seconds to go through each slide. I still cringe at that memory. 

But, you know what? I find that there are so many ingredients when it comes to embracing the act of overcoming. There is the sprinkle of anxiousness that goes into the pan as the sizzling confidence quickly simmers away the thought of failure. And while letting that settle, you discover other spices that provide a sense of thrill.

My mother had always joked around, saying how we’re able to eat any type of food, whether savory or spicy. And she’s right. It is as if I’m a blend of savory spices that have come together to embrace new flavors.

That being said, I am confident to say that I am willing to take risks. Most times. I have come to learn the immense value in the overused saying “expand your horizons.” Although used too frequently, it has come to be true. 

Despite having once been afraid of extending my boundaries, I have paved a new journey for myself–embracing uncertainty. From this previous feeling of isolation, ultimately sprouted my longing to soak up as much as I could of the world around me. 

Looking back at the artwork I wrote about earlier, I found that the artist was right. You can look back and think you were either too boring or too embarrassing. Which could be true. Or not. But in spite of all of that, it reminded me to be kind to myself–ultimately not to throw away my old self.

Rather, be kind to my younger self. For my past and present are the authors of my future. 

That being said, to become comfortable with the uncomfortable is a journey that one has to be willing to take. It definitely can be unsettling at times, but facing those types of challenges that allow you to experience personal growth and embrace discomfort can settle together to form what you want to be.

Capping my pen, I delicately place the silk ribbon in the crevice of the two pages. Smiling once more, I gently close my journal and pay a farewell to the memories I’ve made, hoping for more as I turn to the next blank page–ready for this insatiable desire to go out and absorb as many new experiences, pen in hand, set to write new strokes of memories.

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