Comfort zones are great. They’re akin to safety nets. They keep us protected from the wilderness of what’s beyond, and keep us comforted in the knowledge that this is the zone where we can expect a most steady level of productivity.
But nothing above that.
Comfort zones restrict us more so than we often thought they would. They shed this false sense of security over us, covering our eyes with ignorance that this is the limit, and that our potential has maxed when it has not.
Recently, some friends and I have spoken about books and reading in general and whenever book recommendations are made that are not their usual cup of tea, it’s always “Nah, I don’t think I will like it. I only read (insert favorite genre)”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having a favorite genre is unacceptable, but sometimes the fun is somewhere else, and it’s somewhere else we have to go when drawing a circle and marking it as a pseudo reading boundary just won’t do anymore. I, too, have once been myopic enough to disregard all romance novels as cheesy and off-putting when I honestly haven’t given them a fair chance.
The Time Traveller’s Wife has since shut me up.
We all need books that will shut us up about our prejudices and reluctance, but only if we give them, and ourselves, a chance.
Comfort zones can also come in the form of ‘difficult’ books. I’m an expert at this. Not even college has completely alleviated the symptoms. But I’m getting better. I no long squirm and scream at big books (or small) by big names that threaten to flood me with their accreditation. Though such tales require more time and effort spent, the rewards are more than being stuck in a literary pothole could have ever promised. Afterall, as we grow and mature into different phases of our lives, our choice of books should also continually grow with us. They should shape and challenge us, make us question our choices and stimulate our thoughts, rather than having nothing substantial to add to the conversation.
I’m not saying that everyone should throw whatever they’re reading and pick up some Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so are reading habits. Take small baby steps. Pick up something a bit more challenging than your current read. Constantly challenge yourself and soon reading Dickens would be a breeze.
Or maybe a typhoon. Who knows?