Comfort Zones

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, elaina avalos
Summer of 2017

I just found out a few short minutes ago, that WordPress is holding its first ever “Bloganuary” challenge. They’ll be sharing one writing prompt per day. The goal is to write one post each day, to go along with these prompts. I’m two-days behind, but being late to the party has never stopped me before – so here I am. Today’s prompt is to “write about the last time you left your comfort zone.”

I have many examples of stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m a weird person that likes home and the routine of it. I’m an introvert. I’ll go out of my way to not have to deal with people (because I spend all day being extroverted). But I also love a good adventure. I could pack up and move to Africa or Spain, tomorrow – if I felt it was the right call for me. I’ve pushed myself to leave comfort many times – since my very early 20s. The biggest example of this was in 1999 – when I left behind California, my family, my university (I was still about 2 years shy of getting my Bachelor’s degree), and everything I’d ever known in Southern California, for the East Coast.

I had worked with kids up until that point – as a nanny and a tutor in Orange County, California group homes for foster kids. I loved working with children. To be honest, I never saw myself having a career working with kids because I had such a strong belief I would be a mon. I figured that’s where all my kid energy would be focused. I sometimes wonder if I should have gone into a career working with kiddos. All that to say, I am really good with kids – to include kids from very hard places and with challenging backgrounds. I interviewed for nanny jobs in several places to include Buies Creek, NC, Connecticut, and all over the Bay Area. But it was the Washington D.C, area that won my heart.

U.S. Capital, Elaina Avalos
The last time I was in D.C. I stumbled onto a concert. It was so cool. Serendipity.

So off I went. I took a nanny job living a couple blocks from the “Courthouse” neighborhood in Arlington, VA. I was in love from the moment I arrived. In love with DC, Arlington, and this new little life I had created. I’m a huge history and political nerd & living in that area was a constant source of joy and excitement. I left my comfort zone and went to a place where there’s snow, ice (I had never seen snow fall ever before in my life – let alone drive in snow or ice), and metros to take you where you want to go. I adored most everything about life there.

But it wasn’t easy. I had to learn some lessons the hard way. Aren’t most of us like that in our early 20s? I wasn’t smart about some things. I had a lot to learn. But, I lived. I did things I’d dreamed of doing. I met my church/small group friends at the Tidal Basin for lunch – sitting under blossoming cherry trees. I was at the Supreme Court when big decisions about our 2000 election, impacted our country. I stood on the National Mall the day President Bush was inaugurated (it was a freezing misty rain that day), and I watched fireworks on July 4th, from the Iwo Jima memorial. I would eventually work for a Bush political appointee – but that’s a story for another day.

I will always be proud of myself for leaving my comfort zone and choosing to be uncomfortable some of the time, because it gave me some incredible experiences. I will always be grateful for those. Even with some things about those years I wished I’d done differently, I will never regret taking the leap. I think comfort zones are fine & good – for a while. But shaking ourselves and our lives up a bit, is often where we learn and grow the most.

Arlington Virginia, Elaina Avalos
Looking toward Arlington – near the Lincoln memorial.

How about you? What are some comfort zones you’ve left behind?

3 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

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