- Christy Alfaro
Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Growing up my Dad taught me that you do things once and you do them right. There wasn't much room to try and fail at things. As I've gotten older that fear of being bad at things has only gotten stronger and I've found that I spend more time saying, "Oh I'm not good at that," than saying, "Oh let me give that a try and see how it goes." So, I decided to challenge myself for the month of March and I did one thing every day that I felt I was bad at or made me feel uncomfortable.
I had hated running not too long ago, but when I got a free Peloton membership I started to do their guided runs and found myself enjoying them. Something the instructors say a lot is, "Get comfortable being uncomfortable," and that's what I did last month. There were three ways in which I curated my list, I chose physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, and mental discomfort. There were some challenges that felt easier than others, some that I knew I just had to power through, and a handful that I got genuine anxiety attacks doing.
I love to read and there were some quotes that I've read recently that really resonated with me and I want to use them as a guide as I reflect upon this last month and what really brought me to this challenge. One of them says, "We lock away parts of ourselves that we once liked in a hope chest. We become lesser versions of ourselves so others will like us." I genuinely think that somewhere along the way in my early twenties, I lost myself. I started to silence myself, shrink, and try and disappear into the crowd. I stopped wanting to be noticed, perceived, or judged. That's not who I used to be - sure I would feel self-conscious and awkward but I wasn't afraid to put myself out there and try. But somehow, somewhere along the way, it became easier to live as a shell of myself instead of potentially doing something that someone else could think would be weird or annoying.
But the thing about that is, in doing that - in minimizing myself to potentially starve off others' negative opinions of me - I started to have no opinion of myself. I couldn't look at any one thing or attribute of myself and feel particularly proud of it because I knew deep down that I wasn't fully committing to any aspect of myself or my personality. This challenge really helped me move past that a bit - it's not perfect but it's definitely progress. Forcing myself to do a lot of these challenges in public helped me realize two things. 1. No one is really looking at me, and if they are it doesn't actually matter what they think. 2. The connections that matter happen when you're being yourself.
I've struggled in the past with feeling disconnected with others and I think a big part of that is because I was holding myself back from them. I was afraid of being my true self because I was afraid of being rejected by them, instead of focusing on finding people who like the real me. My friendships strengthened through this challenge because I was being my vulnerable and honest self but also because I was trying new things, things that I'd always been interested in.
It also showed me the beauty in people, I can be a bit of a hater and I think that a part of that is because I assume that everyone hates me. But also, I think part of me being a hater is justified because I have to drive in LA and also sometimes people just suck.
But doing this challenge showed me how kind people can be. The people who I came upon during this month from my impromptu slacklining lesson, the volleyball group I played with, the group of girls who danced with me on my solo sober night out, the other people in the dance class I took, the girl who cheered me on while I roller-skated, the guy who beta'd the climb I tried to work on, the strangers who smiled at me while I did my solo hike, and the stranger who ate lunch with me at the mall; all showed me kindness during a time they didn't have to. And those are just all of the strangers who I met through this challenge, that's not to mention my friends and family who supported me, held the camera for me, and joined me on this challenge. All of these people showed me that while, yes there may be some people who could be judging me for being myself, there are others -even if for just a day - who are happy to be around and help me.
This challenge really helped me dissect who I am, who I want to be, and what brings me joy. Another one of the quotes that I read that resonated with me says, "It's about reconnecting with the spirit of the person you used to be when you liked yourself." As someone who is without a doubt hard on themselves, it's hard to look at that quote objectively. I look at that quote and I think to myself, "Well the last time I liked myself was in the summer of 2017." Now don't get me wrong, the summer of 2017 was an amazing summer for me. But I also had an eating disorder and no money and would spend 16 hours sleeping in bed because I was so malnourished. But in my head I think, "I was skinny! And in all the photos I have I'm having a great time!" And then I realized, it wasn't a matter of when I liked myself, but more about what I did during that time to make me like myself.
There were a lot of days in this challenge where I started off not liking myself but found that I felt better about myself than I had in a really long time and so much of that came from doing things I enjoyed. As I started to note these things in my Dopamine Tracker I found that a lot of these things are linked to memories from my past that I also enjoyed and those are the things that I plan to continue exploring. The ones I didn't enjoy so much - I'm looking at you 5 to 9 before the 9 to 5 - were still valuable experiences in becoming comfortable being uncomfortable.
The last quote I read that I feel ties to this challenge says, "Doing things for the outcome rather than the joy of the process disconnects you from yourself." Doing this challenge, sharing it with people online, and seeing so much support for it was truly amazing. But, there were lots of moments where I felt like I was just going through the days to get everything posted online *cough* crochet night *cough* paint night *cough* Pyramid of cards.
As I move forward from this challenge, as I work on finding myself again and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, I also want to challenge myself to find joy in life and my actions. Now I am doing a completely separate challenge for the month of April, but I think the beauty of this challenge is that it has given me the confidence to try things and be okay with just being bad at them. To find joy in trying new things. To prioritize myself and my passions. To find me again. To be comfortable being uncomfortable.