If left to my own devices, I love being comfortable. I love things that are easy. Who doesn’t? But sometimes, I love to be too comfortable. (Don’t you?) I want to expend minimum effort whilst receiving maximum return. I want to wear pajamas and stay inside all day but still fall in love. I want to take a month to reply to an email from my friend in another city, and then wish we were closer. I want to ace my exams without studying for them. I read articles telling me that I am enough, that I don’t ever need to change, that self-love is the best and only love — and then I do nothing to change this.
Let’s be clear. Being too comfortable is not self-love. How am I loving myself when I encourage stagnancy? How am I loving myself when I’m not forcing myself to grow? Growing is a process. It takes time, but more than that, it takes discipline. It is a conscious choice. Nobody likes to do it, but you need to. You need to face the hard fact that you can always be a better version of yourself and if you want to change, the only way is to change something in your life. Otherwise, you will always be the same. You will be here and everything and everybody will leave you behind.
You will not grow by remaining. You will not grow by settling into routine and putting things off until any period of later time. You will not grow by making excuses, by doing the bare minimum to get by. You grow by stretching yourself. You grow by taking the extracurricular that will take up every Saturday afternoon because even though you want to sleep in and watch movies, you could be learning something new.
Living life on the edge doesn’t always mean big trips filled with metaphorical meaning. Sometimes it’s just sitting next to a stranger and asking them how they are instead of pulling out your cell phone to avoid conversation. Sometimes it’s joining that club you don’t have all that much interest in and surprising yourself if you like it. You could read a book outside the normal genre you reach for. You could try new music, visit an art gallery, observe another religion for a week. Why not go into that ethnic restaurant you pass by everyday to get to work? Sometimes it’s just starting something you meant to get around to but somehow always pushed back.
Growing means gratitude and acknowledgment of everybody around you who loved you and collectively raised you. Growing means apologizing for your mistakes. Or it could be being the bigger person. It could be choosing to forgive somebody. It could be choosing to forgive yourself.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have much time. You’re alive now and not later, not before. One day, it will be too late to start speaking a new language or meeting a new friend (no matter how socially awkward you think you may be) or cooking a new dish you always thought you couldn’t. Stop doing things based on how convenient they are for you. Life is inconvenient.
It’s hard work, this growing business, because to grow means you have to step out of your circle. It means you have to move. But, I promise, the pay-off is amazing. There’s a whole world out there and it’s beautiful and you could drown in wonder just experiencing a small slice of it, one Saturday afternoon at a time.