Rezoning: Closing the Comfort Gap
Sharing my vulnerability with anyone but Big D isn’t really my thang. Sharing my strengths with anyone but him isn’t really my thang either. (I obviously need a little levity just from mentioning the “v” word or the “s” word.) There is a space in-between where I like to spend the majority of my time in relationships. I live in my emotional comfort zone – optimism, peppered with a little self-deprecating humor.
The comfort zone is where I thrive: How are you doing? What’s going on in your life? How can I encourage you? Tell me more about your – job, kids, dreams, worries, vacations, gigs, music, book, blog. I’m not squeamish when people share their vulnerabilities with me. I enjoy listening and comforting. And I’m not uncomfortable with people’s strengths either. I am always right there to cheer them on. Turn the conversation to me and . . . well; I’m pretty good at keeping that from happening . . . but if it does, I briskly run through all the reasons I’m doing well. Then, I recount a story about something silly I did that we can laugh about, and steer the conversation back to where it belongs – on you.
But lately, I’ve been feeling that I need more.
Early this year I began meditating. In the past 80+ days, I’ve only missed a handful of times. I’ve tried meditation in the past, but never with this much consistency. I meditate twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. Of course, with meditation comes visualization, and a few weeks ago I had a clear and recurring vision. Whenever I concentrated on my Solar Plexus Chakra – the one associated with self-respect/esteem, fear of rejection, and “gut instincts” – I pictured myself walking in shoes with two different heals. Vision-me always walked away from actual-me with one high-heeled shoe and one flat shoe. Unbalanced. Uneven. Uncomfortable. I knew this vision represented my relationships – past and present, personal and professional. I felt it was time to get barefooted and walk back to myself.
To regain my equilibrium, I had to heal the hurts of past friendships. “Past” was the hardest part of this process to accept because it meant closing the door on something that I never expected to. It meant closing the door on someone(s).
Did you ever have a friend who just quit on you? Quit calling? Quit emailing? Quit trying? I’m not talking about having less time for each other or having a falling out (which I’ve never experienced). And I’m not talking about an acquaintance or an ex co-worker. I’m talking about a **best friend that just . . . quits. Well, it happened to me. Twice. (Look again at the Highway to the Comfort Zone chart, and you’ll see that sharing this information is WAY out of my 80 %.)
**Best Friend: made you laugh until you snorted, knew you during your wear-mascara-to-bed-in-case-there’s-a-fire-and-a-cute-fireman-rescues-you phase, asked you to be in the delivery room during labor, declared you Godmother to their child, had a standing appointment to watch Dawson’s Creek and Felicity with you, helped you choose the perfect suit for your mom to be buried in.**
There was, what felt like a rock sitting on my third Chakra, crushing my self-respect. I needed closure. The embarrassment of this slight kept me from the feelings that could help me grow – anger, hurt, and forgiveness – none of which are in my comfort zone. Once I allowed the discomfort of this process, I regained strength; and to paraphrase the great Bugs Bunny, “Of course you know, this means more . . . discomfort!” (Once again, see chart.)
It occurred to me that I was allowing and unconsciously inviting more of the same unevenness and disappointment into my blog. Blogging is my way of admitting softly and safely that I have things to say – admit that even I need to be heard. Suddenly, this new-found strength was not satisfied with one-sided blogging efforts. I made the decision to look over all the blogs I follow.
Notice I didn’t put follow in quotes (technically, I should have in this sentence, but I’m trying to make a point here). This is because I actually follow the people I follow – as in, look through my reader, visit each blog, read the content, leave a like and/or a comment. Most of the blogs I follow came around when my blog was brand new. They visited my site first and either liked a post or started following me. I felt that it was important to reciprocate immediately. Nine months later, I’m still visiting their blog on at least a weekly basis and I’ve not seen their Gravatar on my posts since the middle of last year. I’d like to say that it doesn’t bother me. I’d like to. But I can’t.
I looked over the 83 blogs on my follow list and started cutting. (I realize 83 may not be a very big number to some of you, but at one point I got so overwhelmed, I decided to follow blogs without hitting the follow button.) The first cut was the hardest. I wondered if they would get a notice from Word Press in giant, flashing red letters: Noted in Nashville is no longer following your blog!!! REPEAT: Noted in Nashville has dropped you!!! What a meany! With great mental anguish, I went through each blog and asked – should they stay or should they go? Here were some of the other questions I asked to help make my decisions:
- How long since their last post? If it’s been 4, 6, or 8 months, they probably won’t miss me.
- Do they have a lot of followers? Some blogs had 5,000 or 13,000 followers. They won’t miss me either.
- Do I feel uplifted, inspired, encouraged or do I genuinely enjoy visiting this blog? If the answer was no, they didn’t make the cut.
- Do they EVER respond to a comment I leave? This was a biggie for me. If a blogger doesn’t appreciate my time, they don’t need any more of it. (That “strength” part of the chart may have just gone up a couple of percentages.)
- How long has it been since they visited my blog and how often? This was a sad, epiphanous moment for me. Perhaps they only gave a follow to get a follow. They never really intended to check out my blog again (or anyone else’s for that matter). They may not have liked my blog in the least. Gullible much?
A wise man once told me, “When we compare, we despair.” These words echoed in my mind as I grappled with that last question. I answered this wisdom with, “Yeah, but sometimes I just can’t help but notice!” And I didn’t like what I was noticing – this technique works! The numbers for these blogs are large, very large. Meanwhile, week after week, month after month, I feel like a bad comedian in a cheap tweed suit and a fat tie, blowing into the microphone, “Hello? Is this thing on? . . .”
Blogs that I felt used this trick were C-U-T.
The number of blogs I follow went from 83 to 40, and a few of those are hanging on by a thread. This emotional spring cleaning has left room in my life for even, mutually beneficial relationships. I’ve already added a blog to my list of follows – simply because I think it’s great. And now when I look at my list, I see you.
Thank you for your follows, real follows. Many of you are Freshly Pressed-recipients. Some of you are multiple Freshly Pressed-recipients. All of you have more fans and followers. Your generosity has not gone unnoticed.
Thank you for sometimes being that lone laugh, that lone clap in a dark crowd.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville