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Discomfort Is A Pre-Requisite For Growing As A Human Being

I recently read the post by Kathy Caprino in her Forbes article, 6 Ways Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone is Critical For Your Success.

It prompted me to think about the times I was pushed out of my comfort zone.

As a Student of Life, I’m constantly drawing lessons on how to become a better human being.

I share 4 lessons here on what I learnt from uncomfortable moments in my life that helped me grow.

Uncomfortable Moment #1: Having Kids

I never thought I wanted to have kids. News of my first pregnancy totally caught me offguard. I was in the midst of starting out my career and I worried about how having a baby would derail my plans.

It did not. If anything, it enhanced my life.

Lesson I learned

I mercilessly planned and organized my time, set boundaries about what I was willing and not willing to do for work, so I could have a successful career and still be home for our kids. I became more patient and learned to survive with less sleep too!

At a much deeper level, it forced me to think about about what kind of parent I wanted to be.

Parents are Stewards of Their Children

Dana Dillon, Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College describes it aptly in her post ‘Parents as Stewards: Rejecting the Commodification of Reproduction‘:

‘The ways children fail to be what their parents want, the ways they fail to provide their parents a perfect life, go on and on. Children simply don’t stick to the plan. They require nerve-wracking trips to the ER. They have trouble in school. They fall ill, sometimes in ways that reshape their parents’ lives. They turn up, late-night, at the police station. They pair off and marry in ways their parents find desperately foolish. Decades later, they suddenly need assistance in ways no one could have predicted.’

Dillon goes on to talk about how Pope Pius XI reflects on the realities of children and family in the papal encyclical Casti Connubii, published in 1931.

Now, I’m not a practising Catholic, but I agree with Pius’ allusion to the biblical ‘Parable of the Talents’, as Dillon explains:

Every inconvenience (of children — added by me), in other words, is an opportunity for parents to steward well something very valuable, something entrusted to them, in an important, if difficult, ongoing work.

Children are “persons,” to be sure. But they are also children, those especially entrusted to their families — and to all of us.’

My kids remind me daily that I’m here on this earth for a purpose — to be their stewards until they are ready to take flight and live their own lives.

Uncomfortable Moment #2: Getting Married & Sharing My Life With Another Person

You might be wondering how this made it to the ‘Uncomfortable Moment’ list. After all, getting married to the love of your life should hardly be ‘uncomfortable’.

No one taught me about what it means to be married.

What I learnt about marriage, I learnt watching my parents and watching ‘happily ever after’ movies.

How naive I was.

Lesson I learned

Few people talk about the hard stuff in marriage. I guess that’s what marriage therapy and counselling is for. When I hit bumps in my own marriage, the advice I got was to go for counselling.

My husband is hardly the type to believe in counselling. He believed that the 2 best people to make the relationship work are the couple themselves, no one else. Certainly not a stranger whose interest was getting paid for their time. So when he finally agreed to go, I knew our relationship was terminally ill.

We came out from that ‘counselling’ session feeling as if the counsellor didn’t get it. She said she wasn’t the best person to work with us. I separately went to another counsellor. Again, something didn’t feel right about what the counsellor was saying to me.

Trust Yourself

Eventually, my husband and I worked on changing ourselves. We never told each other we were making efforts to change. But we both noticed it. We fought a lot less, loved a lot more.

I’m not saying every couple should do what we did and in some cases professional help is warranted. What I am saying is trust your gut.

You often know the path you need to take.

Uncomfortable Moment #3: Starting a Cafe, Closing a Cafe

My husband and I thought it’d be a good idea to start a cafe 4 years ago.

We found a place where the cafe was on the first floor and we lived above the cafe.

It was our dream to run a business together where we could also be close to the kids.

Four years later (and in debt), we’ve decided to close the cafe.

On the surface, you might wonder what were we thinking? Going into the F&B industry where the failure rate was between 40–90%?

Maybe. But what we gained from it, money can’t buy.

Lesson I learned

Even though we lost financially, we gained in relationships and made connections with people we otherwise would never have.

We met some of the most generous people and saw what kindness looked like in action. We also discovered sometimes the people who judged you the most were family members.

Don’t Judge

When we started doing events to support independents and social enterprises, we discovered an entire world of people out there living life on their terms. Each of them have encountered pain and suffering in their lives.

Their strength is an inspiration and it reminds me that everyone has a story to tell.

So don’t judge others when we don’t know the reasons behind their decisions.

Uncomfortable Moment #4: Starting This Blog

One of my proudest moment as a child was winning a school writing contest when I was 7 years old. My prize was a book voucher. I’ll never forget that.

All through my years in school, I’d always enjoyed Literature. I remember how I spent the most time preparing for Accountancy at A Levels — because you know, it’s the practical course to study that will earn me lots of money. I got a ‘C’ eventually after all that hard work.

Literature on the other hand, was a breeze for me. I hardly spent any time preparing for it and I got an ‘A’. It was a surprise, even to me.

Work colleagues approached me when they didn’t know how to craft an email or message.

I would help my husband vet his writing or help him word portions of his reports, Facebook ads or posts.

Lesson I learned

For years I pursued my corporate career because of the financial returns. Sure, it got me a lifestyle that I really enjoyed.

But what if I could do what I love like reading and writing about topics and causes I care about, and still afford that lifestyle? And that’s the reason I started this blog on the side while keeping my corporate job.

Being Honest & True To Yourself Is Scary — But Don’t Let That Stop You

I know I will be attacked and criticized for sharing my opinions. I know being authentic requires me to be brave and overcome my fears and self-doubt as I put my true self out into the world.

But maybe it is like what Brene Brown says in The Gifts of Imperfection:

…there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. Our unexpressed ideas, opinions, and contributions don’t just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness.

If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.’

Putting myself out there is a scary thought. No matter how respectfully I try to say things, ‘What will people think?’ is an ongoing refrain in my head every single time I’m about to hit ‘Publish’.

But at least I’ll know I’m being honest and true to myself.

So these are the 4 lessons I learnt from uncomfortable moments in my life. What are the lessons you learnt from uncomfortable moments in your life?

Originally published at on August 12, 2018.