I remember leaving the office for the last time. It was a sunny, not too chilly, morning in February. The air still smelled like winter. I wore black. Dark skinny jeans, long sleeved tee with leather jacket, and Jackie O shades. My hair was pulled into a bun at the base of my neck, and my lips were painted red. I felt chic. I felt powerful, and I felt free. In my hands were the notarized paperwork outlining the terms of my severance package. I descended the steps that ushered me away from the office and to the parking lot. Never to return.
Comfort versus Fear of the Unknown
For years I did not think I could lead a life where I was truly myself. I could be myself to a certain extent when I was away from the job, but even then the job maintained it’s freakish control.
For years I operated in the type of environment where the job aimed to control how you perceived things, who you should favor in elections, how you should spend your time and manage your finances. I projected the approved image of myself while on the clock, only getting to be the real me among my close-knit friends. However, as time passed, the facade began to crumble.
The sad thing is I was comfortable. (How on earth could I have been comfortable?!) I knew the demands (however unreasonable) were placed upon me, but I remained where I was. There were many times where I longed for a world away from that job, but I remained. There were plenty of times where I would become physically ill because of the stress produced by that environment, but I remained. I did more than my fair share of complaining. I was unhappy there. But I remained.
Had it not been for them terminating my position, I would still be there. (How sick is that?) Standing on this side of the glass door, I would not and could not go back.
When you are so used to the cage, you do not realize it slowly killing your creativity.
Journal Entry: March 25, 2013
I held on to the familiar despite of its damaging effects. I held on because of the financial security. I held on because I thought I had no other options at the time.
The thing with Life is that she never reveals all her cards. You have to weigh the risks, and be courageous enough to take some. To shield yourself from taking any risk is no way to live.
Creativity Takes Courage
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. He is a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.
I’ve read many authors and bloggers and heard speakers who admonish the masses to get out of their comfort zone. Mentally I agreed them (while still ensconced in my CZ). Now I realize what they are trying to persuade us to do. Comfort zones can be a happy place. Everything is familiar; there are no spooky surprises lurking in the corners. However, comfort zones can be a dangerous place. For me, it kept me bound to a place I did not like, a place that made me feel I had nothing valuable to contribute, a place that tried its best to crush my creativity and my self-esteem.
Creativity takes courage. Courage to bear a part of your soul, to show or express a truth that is uncomfortable.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Status quo is like the comfort zone. There is no creativity.
Go and Do
Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.
Starting out on my own as a freelancer has been both scary and exhilarating at the same time. I am learning every day. It has been a little over two months since I left the office, and in that short period of time, I have learned so much about business and marketing and networking and how to tie it all together with social media. I did not forage these topics when I was nestled in my comfort zone. Being out of the CZ has shown me what I am capable of; it has expanded my horizons and broadened my vision.
That’s all well and good, but now what?
All through life (at least all through my life) I have been admonished time and again by parents, teachers, family members and friends to avoid making mistakes. Many years of my life have been lived out very carefully and cautiously, tailored to the approval of those whom I esteemed. As I wrote previously: To shield yourself from taking any risk is no way to live.
We learn through mistakes. Granted, not all mistakes are created equal; some are more hazardous and hurtful and shameful than others. However, as humans living life, mistakes will ever be part of the equation. Perhaps we just need not to be afraid of mistakes.
Here is what I have learned thus far in launching out on my own.
- Do what you know and can do. Start with that.
- Then build on your skills and knowledge base.
- Fine tune things along the way (you’ll know what those things will be).
- Repeat the process.
Do not let fear keep you in your comfort zone. Be courageous and live a life true to yourself. Then go and make interesting, worthy mistakes.
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