I knew it was time to leave Syracuse when I realized that I had become completely reluctant to put myself out there and try new things. Though I knew all of the restaurants and roads in the city, I didn’t have any real connections left. I was nervous about going to networking events, didn’t want to go to a yoga class alone, in fact I didn’t want to do much of anything that was outside of my boring routine (including frequent trips to Target and heading to the gym). You’d think when you grew up in a place, you’d feel comfortable enough to try anything, but actually the opposite was true. It was like I was so comfortable that it actually became suffocating. I was stuck in the life I’d had as a high schooler or college student in Syracuse, and hadn’t managed to change that as I morphed into an adult in the same city. My comfort zone had begun to strangle me.
You always hear about people staying in one place because they’re comfortable. Plenty of my friends who are still in Syracuse have cited this as a major reason for not leaving. They know their way around. They have their routine. They have their doctors, favorite restaurants, and their hair salon. But in many ways, this kind of familiarity becomes almost stifling. You’re so comfortable in your routine that you can’t possibly imagine doing anything else, and get paralyzed by your habits. The comfort moves from relaxing to disabling.
Moving to Charlotte has taken my predictable Syracuse routine and dumped it on its head. While it was definitely intimidating and overwhelming at first (and still is sometimes), I’ve also found that I have the energy and drive to do things here that I never would have tried had I stayed in Syracuse. Jumping out of my comfort zone has made me brave again. I’ve met up with people I met through a friend of a friend for lunch and coffee. I’m hosting an event for people who are new to the area. These things may seem small, but I never would have had the urge to try them before. I was too focused on doing what I’d always done, and couldn’t imagine branching out into new territory.
If you find yourself feeling generally “blah” about life at any point, I’d suggest taking a glance at your comfort level. Do you do the same things day in and day out? Go to the same restaurants and coffee shops? After a while, too much familiarity makes you flatline. Shake things up a bit. Have lunch in an area you don’t normally head to. Go to a different bar on the weekends. Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Or, if you’re really feeling brave, head to a new place entirely. You’ll be amazed at how different you feel.
Have you ever been too comfortable in a place? What happened?