Leaning Into Discomfort

The holidays bring up a lot of different emotions.

Joy is the most perceived and dominating emotion, though I’m not sure it represents the majority of how people actually feel. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that grief is a huge one. So is anxiety and stress.

Who hasn’t felt the crunch of just-before-break work deadlines that they know they’ll hit, but at what cost to emotional and physical health? The stress of travel? The discomfort of seeing people you haven’t seen since last December, particularly when you wish you were closer to them? The worry of gift giving and its financial implications?

Discomfort is a good word. A lot can happen when we’re thrown out of our routines.

I feel this discomfort quite a bit with the upcoming holiday season. I am all too comfy in my cozy apartment with my boyfriend. When I lived on my own in new places, I (willingly) forced myself to make new friends, establish new connections, and maintain existing relationships. I was single. I would have been so lonely if it weren’t for my loved ones.

Moving to Wyoming and having my boyfriend, it is so easy to just stay in. Skip the discomfort of trying to get to know new people, particularly when they don’t share similar beliefs. Skip the discomfort of 5:00 darkness winter cold. Skip the discomfort of talking to people you love who live far away, whose lives you’re not as up-to-date as you once were. Why leave the land of comfort?

The holidays turn all of this upside down. Suddenly I’m traveling spending money talking with everyone constantly busy away from my love who adores me and understands me and is comfort itself.

I think my only solution, all of our solutions, is to lean into the craziness that happens when routine is thrown to the wayside. These are the reminders I will practice giving to myself over the next few weeks:

  • Discomfort is the only place where growth can happen.
  • The reason I had such an amazing trip in Seattle was not because I stayed in the hotel room and watched movies. The reason was that I got out into the city and pushed myself to learn and try new things.
  • Every period of discomfort can serve as a beautiful lesson, a beautiful memory.
  • Discomfort is temporary. Either the situation remedies itself or you adapt. There’s no in between.
  • What is life without hope? Why not hope that this season can be as splendid as possible?

My thoughts and feelings may very well fall on deaf ears. Maybe anyone reading this feels nothing but tidings of comfort and joy when it comes to the holidays. But I would reckon that every single person could stand to reflect on how they react to discomfort. Avoidance does us no good; dread or worry does us no favors. Acknowledging and facing discomfort is, I imagine, what life is really about.

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