People tend to dwell in their own little bubble, getting caught up in routine + ritual + comfort. I say “people”, but really I mean me. If my self-projection applies to you, please continue to read. If not, please continue to read anyway. So we’ve got our little life bubble that contains the usual day-to-day blah: work, work relationships, home, family. We generally talk to the same sphere of people, go to the same places, eat at similar restaurants. Routine breeds stability breeds comfort breeds happy. That’s the norm. I like to be comfortable. Happy. Stable. When it actually happens, I tend to tread those waters and not rock the boat too much. I went through years of unconsciously dreading change because change was putting one foot in dark, unknown territory. The unknown can be uncomfortable. Scary. Unpredictable. All the things that make me wanna hide in a closet somewhere and long for the familiar. Whether it’s fear, laziness or just a complete lack of awareness, it is easy to go months – years, even – following the same trail of breadcrumbs.
So here’s an embarrassingly superficial example, but effective all the same. I’ll end up wearing the same outfit week after week because at one point I know it looked really good or made me feel like I’m the coolest guy this side of the tracks [and, no, I’m not necessarily referring to a certain pair of tan suede boots casually coordinated with black skinny jeans and simple navy pocket T from J. Crew]. Truth be told that outfit starts getting worn, old and loses its luster. It becomes a uniform of laziness. I’m no longer putting thought into what I wear, I’m just doing the same thing over and over because it was great 6 months ago and requires absolutely no thought whatsoever. That hypothetical, once kick-ass outfit is just as faded as my creativity.
Have I lost you? Wardrobe analogy got you down?
It is so important to not only change your clothes, but change your routine. Just as my outfit starts to stink, so does my daily life 🙂
Do the unfamiliar. If it were up to me, I’d probably sit in my house watching Netflix for days. Literally I would be butt ass naked on the couch, gut deep in a few pints of Ben & Jerry’s strewn out on the coffee table within spoons reach, all while watching consecutive episodes of Breaking Bad back to back to back to back. But it’s not up to me. I was built with a nagging desire to keep learning. Keep growing. Out of the melted Ben & Jerry’s abyss will emerge a fearless new Ryan who can conquer the world.
So I have to put myself in situations that are not necessarily comfortable. We have been doing Inspirational Friday’s at the helium studio once a week, which has allowed me to meet new folks regularly. Something I otherwise would not be doing. Whether I’m meeting people, taking a different route to work in the morning, spontaneously driving to the Keys for a weekend or eating at a new restaurant, I’ve found it so important to break through my bubble. I’ve lived in Fort Lauderdale my whole life and my scope of What To Do has been less than narrow. Apps like Yelp, Foursquare or Groupon are awesome for suggesting new places to eat and things to do. I’m a Yelp nerd. Community activities, galleries, events, parks, classes, workshops – there is life beyond the bubble. Who knew?
I had an English teacher in High School who told me something very similar that just now clicked. I was probably depressed or complaining about the oh-so harrowing sorrows of life – some teen angst melodrama – and she told me that I needed to do something different. Nothing changes if nothing changes. She said to go take a walk around the block. Go to Barnes and Nobles to read a book. Write something. Whatever it is, break the routine and keep putting myself in a new situation or circumstance. At the time I remember thinking that she just didn’t understand me or my very serious 16 year-old life crises. But as I write this blog I realize she may have been on to something. And I hate to admit that because she once said I looked like a prairie dog and I still harbor some deep seeded resentment for it. Although upon further examination, prairie dogs are kind of cute [please see the photo below].
Ms. Rivard, proud member of MENSA by way of the great land of Canada, was basically telling me to change my outfit. Or at the very least, to mix it up. Wear the t-shirt with a different pair of pants. You gotta start somewhere.
Baby steps, right? 🙂