This is my definition of the concept of the ‘comfort zone’: It is a hypothetical ‘space’ that we’re most relaxed in, whenever we act or think in ways that are conventional to us, or at least familiar. We widen this ‘comfort zone’ through experience – as we explore new possibilities, we gradually learn to expand our boundaries, and become more relaxed doing things that we might have stumbled through the first time we tried it.
All I know is that there are actions that I am comfortable with, and actions that I am uncomfortable with (or afraid of). The former is my comfort zone, the latter is not. And more often than not, I end up frustrated by my attempts to widen that comfort zone. Especially if people are involved.
For me, things such as programming, drawing, they are all well within this zone. I’ve done both for enough years to be relatively confident in my skills, and I often find myself writing software or painting in order to relax. I don’t need to think about why I do those things, as those two hobbies simply come naturally to me. I enjoy them, and even new challenges (such as my attempting to shade hair more realistically…) are fun, in their own right. They are entirely within my comfort zone.
And I have gotten better at those hobbies. The few friends who I showed my most recent games and drawings encouraged me to publish them, to share them on a blog or a forum or something.
Uh. Somehow, I really, really didn’t want to do that.
I have no idea why I am so uncomfortable with the idea of actually sharing the work that I make. I have dozens of old drawings lying on my hard drive, unshared, and programs and games I’ve created that have only been seen by maybe three people (including myself). From what my friends tell me, this work is not laughably bad, so there shouldn’t be any harm in sharing. In fact, my logical self knows that sharing work is a good thing, as then there’s the chance that I can get feedback or criticism to improve my work even further.
And yet the thought of sharing things makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable. Not just my drawn or programmed work, but also my written thoughts. Every time I publish a blog post, I get a strange feeling of unease; at least one part of me absolutely does not want to make these thoughts public, fears what could come out of my work.
This fear is completely unfounded, and I am aware of it. I’m just coming up with all kinds of imaginary what-if scenarios (to me sharing work, or doing anything I’m afraid of, really), and then focusing on all of the worst possible outcomes. What if it isn’t good enough? What if I end up offending people? What if it gets stolen? Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
Well, those are also irrational ‘what-ifs’. No matter what we say, we might be offending someone. Good is often subjective, and there’s no way to please the world. As for things getting stolen…well…I actually don’t have much to say about that (I hope nothing I do gets stolen, although most of what little I have published so far I don’t particularly care if people steal.) And in all cases, those fears really shouldn’t have so much priority put on them; it’s not the end of the world if a work gets panned. That happens all the time, to people far more talented and/or famous than I am.
But perhaps I’m just skirting the issue a bit. Those ‘what-ifs’ aren’t really my biggest fears, in the end. I hoard everything, my work, my writing, my memories. For some reason, I am extremely uncomfortable of the idea of even letting other people (strangers) know of my existence, or at least of the existence of the work I do.
I am probably a little more than a little paranoid. Don’t know for certain, because I don’t exactly trust psychiatrists. I don’t like sharing my work, because that work is always an aspect of my self, and I don’t know if I want to trust anyone else with it. I keep all of my posts and stories deliberately vague, so that I don’t give too much of myself away.
I’m not entirely sure what it is I’m afraid of – for abstract concepts, perhaps we all sometimes have things we fear that we’re not certain of. All I know is that whenever I construct a ‘what-if’ for the consequences of sharing things, or even writing a blog, it never looks too happy. I worry that the more I share about myself, the more I run the risk of losing my sense of identity. My comfort zone is a funny thing; when I’m alone, it’s quite big. Add even a single person into the mix, and it can shrink to absolute zero.
So instead, I guarded everything. Even to close friends, I choose words carefully, never say more than I need, never say anything about myself. Or I take the complete opposite direction, and say a bunch of nonsense so the things I want to hide get lost in the mix. Intentionally or not, when reading through my previous blog posts, I have done the same. Everything I do is really careful, so that I don’t let slip anything about myself that I am still uncertain about.
Even now, in some ways, I still do that. In a lot of ways. I am still using a pseudonym, and only saying exactly what I want to say, in vague terms. That doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still something I am uncomfortable with.
I am sharing a blog post admitting this fear, which (frustratingly) is also something that I am afraid of. I know that after I hit that ‘publish’ button, my paranoid tendencies will be screaming at me.
But at the same time, I can hopefully widen my comfort zone, even if only by a little. I started this blog hoping that by sharing my words, I could relax – and I guess only time will tell if it actually works.