Reader’s column: Putting growth before comfort
HAVING RECENTLY OBTAINED HER BCOM ACCOUNTING DEGREE, SPHUME DLAMINI’S IN A SEASON OF LIFE THAT REQUIRES HER TO HAVE COURAGE AND BE AGILE IN DEALING WITH CHANGE
Ayear ago, I turned 22 and something in me shifted. I remember the morning clearly. I was in Cape Town, in a hotel that cost me an arm and a leg, but offered the best view. I woke up feeling a little sad about this particular birthday. I was confused and frustrated with my life. I sat up in bed, pulled out my journal and started writing a love letter to God. I do this annually as a measure of what I’ve achieved during the year He’s given me. I wrote my list and said my prayers. I then decided to re-read my list from the year before – and that was when it hit me. I realised that in the previous two years, I hadn’t done anything new. I hadn’t pushed myself. I hadn’t tried doing anything out of my comfort zone. I’d been so comfortable with my life at the age of 20 that I’d simply repeated the same year.
I had to admit that my yesterday looked like my today and my today looked like my tomorrow.
I then wrote a list of all my fears, from geckos to heights and closed spaces. From the small and petty to the life-threatening, I wrote down anything that made me feel uncomfortable – and I named the next 12 months “the year of defying comfort”.
I know there are things we can’t change about our situations and must learn to accept, but I refuse to live the same year repeatedly and call that my life. I made a decision that every year from then on, I’d be a better version of myself. I’d take more risks, step out of my comfort zone and embrace my fears. I intentionally started doing things I was afraid of, deliberately making myself uncomfortable.
It hasn’t been easy and there are many days when I’m tempted to break that promise to myself and go back to my average and comfortable life – but I get so much joy out of ticking challenging things off my list that I know I’ll never stop.
My 23rd birthday is approaching and I know that who I was last year this time isn’t the same person I am today. Defying comfort hasn’t been easy. Exposing myself to my fears has given me sleepless nights. I’ve cried and I’ve failed – but I’ve also had some great successes. I’ve had days when I’ve been proud of myself, and other days when I’ve wanted to creep into a hole and stay there forever – but not once have I been disappointed in myself for not trying.
I’ve done things I thought I couldn’t do – and I’ve done them well.
I know there are things we can’t change about our situations, but I refuse to live the same year repeatedly and call that my life.