Please Step Out of My Comfort Zone

I’m good where I am, thanks

Jan M Flynn
Crow’s Feet
6 min readMay 27, 2024


Image by Aleksandr Tarlõkov from Pixabay

Just yesterday while running errands I passed a marquee on a dermatologist’s office that read, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place to be but nothing ever grows there.”

I was annoyed. First of all, at the nonsensical expression. How can any place so lifeless as to forbid growth serve as a beautiful place to be?

And second, a dermatology clinic? Isn’t that where we go to get rid of things that are growing where we don’t want them to?

But it wasn’t just the chirpy marquee that set me off. Anti-comfort-zone messages are everywhere, from shared workspaces to elementary school campuses. You can hardly turn around without running into them.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!”

“Great things never came from comfort zones!”

“The comfort zone is nothing but a graveyard for hopes and dreams!”

Enough already

What is it with our culture’s need to harangue us out of feeling comfortable? What’s so threatening about someone finding peace for a second? What horrible thing would happen should we somehow stumble into contentment?

Might we pause in what should be a never-ending pursuit of greater productivity? Might we take a breath without reaching, striving, wanting? What if all of us, all at once, arrived at the realization that we have all we need for the present moment and that we’re fine as we are?

Society as we know might come to a grinding halt! Everybody would plotz on the nearest sofa and never get up again. If we slacked off for a second in our ceaseless effort to achieve more, acquire more, and crush those goals, then what? Innovation, creativity, and all that is good and holy would surely crumble into dust.

For the gods of capitalism, it could summon Ragnarok.

Oh, please.

Sorry, oh captains of industry. It’s taken me this long to connect on a regular basis with my calm, comfortable center. Stop trying to blast me out of it, okay?

I call shenanigans on the comfort zone bashing

There is plenty of discomfort built into life, starting at birth itself. And the supply is never-ending, based on my threescore-and-ten experience of life on this planet.

But what’s the first impulse any reasonable, functioning person has when confronted with a squalling newborn? To comfort the baby, natch. We don’t hector the wee tot with slogans: Pain is just weakness leaving our bodies, Junior! Get a grip!

Without being swaddled in comfort and a sense of safety first, how is that kid ever going to find the courage to toddle and explore?

Any successful expedition starts with building a sturdy base camp. True, you can’t summit the mountain if you hang out in your tent forever. But you’d better have a safe and well-supplied place to return to if you want to live to show off the pics.

As for great things never coming from comfort zones, fooey. Sitting in my favorite patio chair on a warm evening, sipping a perfect martini and playing Wordle with my beloved better half? There are few things in life greater than that.

I know, I’m supposed to be dissatisfied if I can’t transmute the greatness of that moment into a billion likes on InstaTwit or a money-making online self-improvement course, or at least goose the envy of my Facebook friends.

Sorry, captains of industry. I’ve lived long enough to know better.

“A graveyard of hopes and dreams?”


When do your hopes and dreams flourish? In moments of high stress and tension, when you’re under pressure and white-knuckling your way through life?

I doubt it.

All the hopes and dreams I’ve ever generated have come to me in moments of what I call peaceful expansion, AKA daydreaming — times when I was safe enough and free enough to let my imagination soar. Such moments give me the vision and gumption to road-test those dreams in real life.

I’m a writer, and I know in my bones that conflict is the fuel that powers stories. That doesn’t mean I need to manufacture it in real life. Stories are recounted from a certain distance, told around the fire after returning from the quest, not while slaying the dragon.

Comfort zones are intended to grow

Every skill I’ve learned, every challenge I’ve surmounted has enlarged my comfort domain. I know perfectly well that I can’t be comfortable all the time or I’d never get anywhere new; on the other hand, the more experience I acquire and metabolize, the larger my zone.

I confidently assume the same is true of you. There was a time, early in your term here in Earth School, when you weren’t comfortable standing upright, let alone walking. But you didn’t learn to toddle because someone shoved you out of the cradle. You did it by degrees, gradually expanding your sense of mastery in fits and starts. You literally took baby steps.

And you did it out of curiosity and a desire to try something different, to see what you could do. Just sitting around in your diaper was getting boring. Because you were comfortable enough to test yourself, you took a risk and wobbled off on those cute little feet.

When you bonked into the furniture or scraped your knee on the rug, somebody scooped you up and comforted you — at least I hope to God that’s what happened — until you’d had enough of that and they put you back down.

And then you tried again until walking felt natural. Because novelty, exploration, and creativity are part of your nature. They were then and they are now.

I don’t think you or I need motivational posters to keep us moving forward. We’ve earned some time in the comfort zone. And by now, we can be trusted not to slack off forever.

Your comfort zone is as unique as you are

Where you feel most at ease might not look anything like mine or someone else’s refuge. If what relaxes you and connects you to your nature is bungee jumping off a bridge, then I love that for you.

I just don’t love it for me.

Staring into a merrily burning fireplace on a winter evening while holding a steaming mug of something yummy — that’s more my thing. If you’re an adrenaline aficionado it probably looks like I’m just sitting there, a human-shaped pudding, doing nothing.

It’s not nothing. When I’m good and comfortable my imagination gets to come out and play, and I can watch it dance amidst the flames. Or I can savor a moment of simple awareness and appreciation.

The reservoir of those moments have allowed me to meet challenges and do hard things: cancel my plans to go to grad school and take over the family business when my first husband died suddenly; raise two sons; write books.

I’ve done a lot, and I still do. But when I head to my comfort zone, doing is not the point; being is. I’m registering the pure deliciousness of being alive, as boring as it might look from the outside.

So please don’t worry about me, and spare me the exhortations. I’m quite happy where I am.

If you get to that same place — that peaceful, creative wellspring — by jumping out of airplanes or cave diving, I say cheers to you. Vive la différence.

I’ll be here when you get back (if you get back). Then I’d love to trade stories.

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Jan M Flynn
Crow’s Feet

Writer & educator. The Startup, Writing Cooperative, P.S. I Love You, The Ascent, more. Award-winning short fiction. Visit me at