When I started this blog I was fresh out of the nest. I was 23, had lived at home my entire life, and had just graduated college. The thought of moving almost 300 miles away from home seemed terrifying. The blog about that is linked here. Needless to say, I was comfortable.
There’s a book by Jeremy Collins called Drawn: The Art of Ascent and on one of the first pages there is this drawing of comfort zones in the form of a landscape. If you search it you’ll find the image pretty quick. (I’m not adding the picture because I honestly don’t completely understand copyright laws and don’t want to get in trouble!) Basically the picture starts with the “comfort zone,” then it shows your “perceived boundaries.” The mountains past that are called the “unknown” and the “known.” Then you’re right back into a comfort zone, although the comfort zone is now farther out than the original one. The landscape continues on like this until it ends at the horizon.
I think what Collins is illustrating to us is we all start out right here in our current comfort zone. We make up these perceived boundaries, as he calls them, which limits how much we can see ourselves doing. Anything past our perceived boundaries is the unknown. Once we move through this unknown territory it becomes known territory which eventually becomes comfortable and you can look farther into the future towards a new unknown. Collins’ map shows mountains because it’s an alpinism book. But it can be translated into any boundary; whether it is moving out for the first time, deciding to quit your job to pursue a dream, or to climb a literal mountain. The boundary is that little voice that speaks into your head telling you that you can’t do something. It’s the doubt that crosses your mind and pollutes it with “what ifs.”
My comfort zone was Hawthorne, CA. I had an awesome job, great friends and family. I had a set schedule and a cool climbing gym. But there was this part of me that felt kind of dead inside. So even though I was terrified, I stepped out of my comfort zone into the unknown. I thought Yosemite would be an easy transition into the adult world of fending for myself. I was right. My perceived boundaries were that I would live here for about a year and then be ready for my next adventure. My unknown was what would happen to me in the Valley. Yosemite quickly became my new comfort zone and here I am almost 2 years later! Now, if you look at the map I’m in a comfort zone again but I’m not back at the beginning of the map, I’ve taken all of the experiences along my journey with me.
My point in all of this is that no matter where you are in life you are going to run into comfort zones. You’re going to feel afraid to fully take another step out and follow dreams. I was a suburban city girl that loved the outdoors but was too afraid to give up traditional life to be in the mountains! I pushed myself out of that comfort zone. My next comfort zone was being a top rope queen. I never wanted to lead because it was too scary. I would follow anyone on anything or be a belay b*tch but I never wanted to be on the sharp end. Now I can lead 5.8 trad climbs. I went from SoCal city (only ever climbing in the gym) girl to a 5.8 trad climber living in Yosemite National Park! It’s easy to overlook the accomplishments when you’re getting ready for the next adventure! Take some time and reflect on how far you’ve come!