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Is It The Comfort Zone Of Our Family That Defines Us?
When we're born our minds are a clean slate. We have to learn what is going on around us. And as we start to grow we begin to notice the people who are going to be important in our lives. The mother and father, brothers and sisters and all the extended family such as aunts and uncles.
Of course there are many children who are not lucky enough to have a family, and I feel for them. Maybe they find their comfort zone with friends.
But this is not about those children. This is about us. The everyday man or woman who are lucky enough to live in a relatively safe environment. And are surrounded by love.
For many years my family were my comfort zone. Each and every member were a pillow against the world. If I had a problem either at school or work I could turn to one of them and know that their love, comfort and common sense would help me get through the problem. And much more importantly let me know that I wasn't alone.
The loving arms of my family were like cushions, one at the back of me, one at the front and many at the sides. Layers of love and understanding.
Definition of Comfort Zone - Noun - A situation or place where one feels at ease and safe, without stress.
I grew up to be a reasonably confident girl with few friends. I was slightly introverted back then because of school bullying, but my mom put on her metaphorical armour, and with her trusty steed, a bike in this instance, she would go up to the school and fight my case. She always won because she was my mom, my cushion and my hero.
After leaving school I got a good job and soon after, married. They were still there, my comfort zone. They made me laugh, they made me warm. And most importantly I had a sense of complete calmness and tranquility. But soon my cushions began to fall away.
My dad died in 1998. I was heartbroken, and missed him so much. My other cushions, my mother and aunt, brother and son wrapped me in their warm embrace and I began to feel normal again. Then a year later my mother died. Another part of my comfort zone was gone. Over the next few years I lost my aunt, my best friend and her boyfriend plus another friend too.
My comfort zone was falling to pieces. There were holes so large in the cushions that I began to feel unsafe. If I fell who would catch me? Where my family had died, there were great big holes in the padding of my comfort walls. Only darkness lay there now. Then I noticed something strange begin to happen.
As my comfort zone was lost, I realised that I was sinking. I began to act differently, I had already gone through a huge trauma concerning my husband, and now I had my brother, son and ex husband. All the others have gone. That's more than a lot of people have I know, but it still felt very strange.
The person that I had been, the happy, laughing confident woman was turning into an emotional wreck. Panic attacks defined my days, and nights were traumatised by horrendous nightmares. I was falling, metaphorically and literally. Over the years I have adapted and changed completely. I still have hysterics when someone makes me laugh, but I don't really feel it. I have become numb to the world in many ways.
I watch people on TV, in the street and around me and I think that somehow I am no longer the same as they are.They feel. They love and they laugh. All because they have their comfort zone.
Confidence and Ambition.
There are lots of reasons why some people become successful. They have that certain quality that makes them leaders in their field of work. Their confidence shines through. People flock to them like bees around a honey pot. They have that something that makes them special. Most people asked would say that it was intelligence that got them where they wanted to be. Others would say that its a quality of leadership that sets them apart.
But what is it really?
I remember watching a TV program about a woman who joined the Womens Institute. From the second she started, her personality took her to the top. She became the leader of the group and organised all the meetings, fetes and fairs. Her confidence was so loud that the other ladies wouldn't even make a pot of jam without her permission. I hated her right from the second I set eyes on her.
Then I asked myself why. I knew that her confidence wasn't her own. Oh I am sure she had it in abundance, but I just knew she had a very strong comfort zone around her. Not just her husband and children, but mother, father and so on. This was proved later in the program as they all turned up to congratulate her on her work. Not only was she confident, she was arrogant. Her comfort zone was so strong it never dawned on her that things could go wrong in her family life, or work. I just wanted to see the smile wiped of her smug face. I know, how horrible am I? I also knew it was pure jealousy that made me feel this way.
Our Comfort Zone Does Define Us.
I believe that every time we lose someone who was our cushion, our comfort zone, a little bit of our personality gets chipped away. Instead of being a whole person, you begin to lose little bits of yourself. Our confidence is the first to go, closely followed by our interests and ambition. The person we eventually see in the mirror is not the same person that started out. I know. I recently found an old diary I wrote back in 1991.
That person, the one who held the pen, wrote the words, and smiled throughout all of the stories and memories, was not me. I don't even recognise her. I could peel back the layers from built up fear, panic and loneliness and maybe I will find myself again. Its a fascinating idea.
The question is, can we ever rebuild the person who has lost their comfort zone? Knowing that our cushions are no longer there, how do we fill the gap left by them? I wish I could answer that. I really don't know. But I do Know one thing.
I miss me.
So what can we do?
For many people, their comfort zone helps them with their everyday life. But sometimes we need to stand on our own two feet and start again. To rely on other people I believe is a sign of weakness, and the best way to build up your confidence is to hit the ground running. Go for it, and hopefully we will build up our own comfort zone based on our success. Many people go through life on their own without a family to back them. And look at how successful they have become.
The next time you see a smiling politician, a famous sportsman, or just someone down your street who oozes confidence and laughter, just remember, it may not be their intelligence and ambition that made them so successful. It could be their comfort zone that covers their back.