Day 18: Embracing the discomfort.

As someone who likes to have things planned out and perfected, I had an extremely difficult time coming to terms with any sort of discomfort in my life. To me, discomfort was equivalent to failure; if I was uncomfortable, it meant that something had gone wrong and needed to be fixed immediately.

It wasn’t until I came across a piece of writing by James Clear that I began to see things differently. In an article of his from November of last year, he talked about the idea of getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable:

“You’re not allowed to be disappointed by your amateur performance because you haven’t developed the skills of a professional yet. In the beginning, you’re still learning. You’re still developing. You’re still building. You need to get comfortable with feeling stupid, uncertain, and unskilled.
The start is supposed to be a struggle. You’re not good enough to be disappointed. You’re bad enough to get to work.”

His simple explanation struck me immediately. For whatever reason, the idea of getting comfortable with disappointment was completely alien to me. If I was going to do something, it had to be perfect — and if it wasn’t, I took this to mean that I was doing something wrong, that I had failed, and that I shouldn’t even bother.

But by not allowing myself the struggle of an imperfect start, I was stifling my potential. Growth comes almost exclusively from vulnerability, and if you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, you’re not allowing yourself to grow.

It took me a long time to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I still struggle with it, but the difference is that I now realize it’s part of the process. At its core, discomfort is a sign of growth; rather than fighting it, I now know that it’s best simply to accept and embrace it.

Where I was once terrified of discomfort, I now let it fuel me. As John Steinbeck so eloquently wrote, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

Jana Marie is a Croatian-born writer living amidst the restorative embrace of the Canadian prairies. Through her writing, she examines the interplay between self and society as she works to both illuminate and explore the power of contemplative thinking. She hopes that 100 Mindful Days, a 100-day project combining teachings from the worlds of personal development, psychology, and spirituality, will soon be her first book.

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