The reality of discomfort is that it helps us grow. There have been, and I anticipate will be, many uncomfortable moments throughout service. Without these and past discomforts, my perception of comfort would be different. I feel if I were to stay comfortable it would become a catalyst into never wanting to be uncomfortable; something I do not believe is conducive to a good life. Yes, comfort is wonderful. It is that grilled cheese and tomato soup on a rainy day, the embrace of a loved one, the familiar in our lives. Yet there is a balance to be had. The jolt of extreme discomfort completely changed my perception on, well, just about everything. The most important being that of the self. I learned just how comfortable my life was, how easy I had it; I in no way take this for granted or am making a point that it was a bad thing. In fact, it was great – but I do not believe I could have properly appreciated it without the struggle.
What I took away from my first experiences with extreme discomfort was my inner strength; my ability to prevail. I have taken that with me on all my adventures and it is something no one can take away from me. In fact, I believe the strength that was fostered in my teens is what has carried me to where I am today; sitting on a couch in the medical unit with three holes in my left heel. As well as, less specifically, willing myself onto the flight back to Senegal after facing discomfort in profound new ways.
On the phone with a good friend during a particularly emotional time in the States, she said “You know why people who seem like they have perfect lives and never have to deal with difficult situations are like that? Its because they can’t handle it; their world allows them to live in that place of comfort. You are being thrown these circumstances because you are at a place in your life where, to some degree, you can handle it. You have come so far that this is just the next step in your growth.”
That was awesome. Although it didn’t do much to calm me down, it would end up helping strengthen my resolve. Something I learned about myself during my time home was that I tend to numb, rather than healthily cope, with my emotions; I have a vulnerability issue.
As I near the end of my short “reintegration period” (healing) in Dakar and set my sites on Kedougou, I know that it will be difficult to retain my personal commitment to stop numbing and start dealing with my emotions. To start feeling the things that until now I knew, but never acknowledged, I hate feeling. Why? Simply, it hurts.
I am more comfortable with the physical because it will heal, but so uncomfortable with my emotions because I cannot just wrap it in a splint and prop it on a pillow. I can be horribly sick in my hut for days, but I can’t get a tear to fall.
The reality of discomfort is that it sucks but is so necessary. This year I chart new territory; my emotional topography. I’m scared.
I’m not even confident I am ready to step into this new discomfort.
Yet, like many things in my life I think I do better with all-or-nothings, rather than the in-between. Yet, that life is best lived in the balance. So, I am stepping barefoot onto my emotional topography and leaving the numbing cream at home– wish me luck.
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