When I think of comfort zones I think of coziness. Like sitting wrapped up in a blanket in my house. It’s hard to leave that place where everything feels warm, safe, and comfortable.
Recently I jumped out of my comfort zone. I should probably backtrack a bit. Before Gabe died I had contemplated looking into some sort of career change, and I felt drawn to health care careers. I looked at options at our local community college and thought just maybe I could do something different. I realized, though, that with 3 boys and the not so easy health things those boys had to deal with I couldn’t really go there. Not yet. So I set that aside and continued with life. Then Gabe died. My memory felt like it was erased and the smallest tasks seemed like huge obstacles. EVERYTHING was harder to do than it had been before. Day to day life took so much energy and focus that I just told myself I couldn’t even think about anything different. It wouldn’t work. And really it felt like it would never work. Like I would forever be in the exact place I was and nothing would get better.
As time moved on, though, my memory slowly started to get better. Daily tasks didn’t take quite as much out of me, and I started to realize that I couldn’t let the fact that my child died be the one factor that determined how the rest of my life would go. I couldn’t let Gabe’s death force me to stay in that comfort zone (although admittedly even my comfort zone was a bit uncomfortable and tainted with grief).
In early September I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and I started volunteering in a nearby Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy clinic. I knew I needed to get SOME sort of experience in a medical setting to see how I liked it, and I went to a place where I knew some of the people and where those people had helped me with my own physical pain a few years ago. I interacted with only adults (VERY far from my usual day since I work with children under 5!) and I really, really enjoyed it. I went in knowing NOTHING. Really, I knew nothing. It was extremely humbling and I’d be lying if I said I really didn’t feel cut out for it in the beginning. But I pushed myself a bit and kept it up. I had my last day about 2 weeks ago and I feel like I have grown more than I thought I could. I’m still fine tuning my path and discerning what’s next.
I’m still not quite sure exactly where I hope to end up but my volunteer experience helped me find some clarity. I know that this process will be as S-L-O-W as it needs to be- it’s not just change but there is grief mixed in that change which makes it challenging. Wherever I end up, I know that I am so grateful for the many hours I spent in that clinic with the amazing people who work there and the wonderful patients I was able to meet. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and begin to see what I may be capable of.