Saturday, August 27, 2016

Comfort is overrated

I've spent the last 7 years of my life being uncomfortable.

(Wait.  It's not a sob story.  Promise.)

There was the living in San Diego and wanting to be in Michigan, forming independent studies while being pissed off my major didn't exist, living up to the demands of a grueling internship, the purposeful planning of taking classes that I knew would challenge me (shout out to Epistemology!), the cutting out of all wanted pastries and pastas to accommodate newfound allergies, the knowing that my loved ones wouldn't be able to make it to my wedding.

Then there was the getting pregnant a month after our wedding and not being entirely sure how we were going to afford a baby, the discomfort of months of dry heaving, feet swelling, the meal planning and perpetual budgeting, the holidays spent alone away from family, the 25 hours of back labor, the emotional and physical pain of breastfeeding, the taking care of an infant as my husband entered launch mode at work, the burden of student debt, missed bills, West Coast cost of living.

Then there was the discomfort of a postpartum depression diagnosis, anxiety, panic attacks, getting on and off medicine, opening up to therapists, and the absence of friends with whom I could put all of life on "pause" and just laugh. it. out.
Where being uncomfortable brought me.
// Photo cred: Francis & Louise // 

I look back on my time since I left Michigan back in '08 and think, "Wow.  Nothing, really at all, came easy." Even the pictures we eventually hung on our walls in our second California apartment, we carefully budgeted for.

I hate using words like "counter-culture" or "secular."  Usually, when I stumble upon those words, it's a flag for me to stop reading or listening.  So I'll say as the...world is today, it teaches us, it grooms us, to seek comfort in all that we do.  So much so we've become completely adverse to discomfort.  I get it. Being uncomfortable sucks, real bad, even in the pettiest of ways.  The first time I had to look at my favorite coffee cake in the case at Starbucks after being told I could no longer consume anything of the sort, I wanted to punch the guy behind me in line (sorry, guy.)  Having to skip holidays so you can pay hospital bills sucks.  Spending your evening dealing with toddler tantrums instead of unwinding with your husband isn't a vacation.

But being uncomfortable is the only way we grow -- the absolute only way.  Our beings do not change through gained textbook knowledge or by pinning an inspo quote on Pinterest.  We grow when we've been exposed, challenged, made vulnerable, sacrificed, suffered, been taken out of ourselves and directed our focus to others.

I've only learned this because I've been purged over the last 7 years.  Prior to leaving Michigan, I sought comfort in all that I did, always eager to satisfy my own thirsts and rarely willing to step any further.  I was 18.  But since having been gone, I've learned better.  I had a baby without community, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I developed agoraphobia.  Time and time again, I chose to face and walk through my discomfort and, because so, I'm residing here as a different Kaitlin than the Kaitlin who resided here in 2008.  The uncomfortable path is no doubt the harder one.  Our human selves want nothing but to sit on the couch, donuts in hand, and watch Big Bang re-runs. We've been groomed to satisfy all the superficial, but we deserve to be more than what's on the surface.

So, I have to say.  Shame on you, World, with your "do what makes you feel good's" and your "it should be easy's" and "follow your heart, not your head's."  You're wrong.  Your advice has stunted our growth and has taught us to settle for living in one, single moment when we could strive for living a wonderfully challenging and rewarding lifetime.

Getting uncomfortable was the best decision I ever made.  Four homes, 3 states, 2 kids, in barely 3 years of marriage has shaped me into a person who looks at the big picture, the long run, who, no matter how many times has a panic attack or consults the wrong therapist or experiences a failed medicine, keeps trying and then says, "what's next?"  And the fruits of these past 7 laborious years, I think, are a testament to just how rewarding discomfort can be.  The friendships I have are some of the best, I have a genuinely kind, compassionate, selfless husband as my teammate, and I have 2 kids that are chunky and adorable and the sweetest of duos.

To those who are currently as uncomfortable as you've ever been, finding yourself in less than pleasant circumstance, hang on and keep trying.  And to those who are constantly hopping from one satisfaction to the other, unsure of commitment or sacrifice, I challenge you to stay, explore, get uncomfortable.

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