When the weekend hit, I’d seclude myself in front of a 42″ screen with the blinds drawn. I’d leave only long enough to refill my snack supply. My comfort zone was happiness…or so I thought.
Wake up. Go to work. Come home.
I was scheduled.
I was comfortable.
I was happy.
And I thought I had peace.
But I was mistaking the little comfort zone of seclusion as happiness, and in complete denial that I had spun myself into a vicious cycle, repressing the memory of the extrovert inside me.
Pay attention to your patterns. The ways you learned to survive may not be the ways you want to continue to live. Heal and shift.Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis
I wanted to go out, have fun, drink some beer, and do things with the freedom the single life afforded me and yet, the more I kept locking myself into a bubble of depression the more foreign doing those things became. That just encouraged me to lock myself into that little bubble just that much further and it was almost as though the more I longed for a change of pace, the more fearful I became of that change of pace.
Then I Started Dating
By the time I was ready to start dating, I had redefined myself as an introverted person that cherished peace and quiet rather than come to terms with my depression. Reclusively binge watching Netflix all night was just going to be the new me.
I had convinced myself that I loved this new me and that for me to find love was going to require someone taking me exactly as I was.
And so I started swiping.
First on Tinder. Then on Bumble. Then on Hinge.
I had hundreds of matches, went on countless dates, and nothing seemed to click.
I kept writing it off that I had broken some rule of dating, that people just wanted adventure over introversion, and that the dating scene had changed in ways I hadn’t yet adapted to.
It couldn’t possibly be that I hadn’t yet dealt with the root cause of my problems.
Except, that’s exactly what it was.
Depression wasn’t the best me and it manifested itself in seclusion I wrote off as a personal preference for.
It was less uncomfortable to seclude myself than face that I wasn’t the most confident version of myself yet.
My Lonely Comfort Zone Blurred My Vision
Deep down inside, I knew all along I wanted to be interesting and have adventures. And I wanted to date someone that was interesting and had adventures. The problem was I had secluded myself so far away from that in my depression that I lost sight of that core, extroverted personality and it was easier to accept that I just changed than confront that I wasn’t truly living my best life plopped on my couch. Now living that best life was going to require stepping outside my new comfort zone and finding myself again.
So I Made A Change
One day, I did something different. At the suggestion and encouragement of a friend, I signed up for a painting class. I hated painting. I knew I was going to hate painting. 30 minutes into that class only reinforced that.
But as much as I hated it, it was one of the best decisions I made. It was change I was oblivious to needing. I didn’t enjoy the class, but it brought positive change by adding variety to my life at a point where I had established comfort inconsistency.
If someone were to ask if I was interested in art, I would continue to say no; however, in addition to that, I was now also the guy that totally tried an art class once. It wasn’t substance I enjoyed, but it was substance – it was the basis of an entire Tinder conversation turned date.
And eventually, as I brought even more change to my life I started to find substance I did enjoy.
I had become so used to believing that the self I came to know post-divorce was the only me that could ever exist. I was so focused on finding the right person for that version of me, that I overlooked that there might be a completely different me – a happier me – that would be right for someone else.
That’s the problem I think many people have. We convince ourselves we are living the life we are meant to live and that people can take it or leave it. The reality is, so many of us are setting the bar we have for ourselves so low. We are meant to be greater if we just push ourselves outside our comfort zone.
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