Rezoning: Closing the Comfort Gap

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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.

HIGHWAY TO THE COMFORT ZONE

I spend 80% of my time in my comfort zone. I give vulnerability about 12% while strength gets a measly 8%.

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.

Uneven-horzTo 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

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19 thoughts on “Rezoning: Closing the Comfort Gap

  1. Anita, I swear to you your post, your entire post, has cheered me so. You have said what so many people feel! This is why I follow you and respond to your lovely, positive posts. The purpose of this blogging thing (and trust me, I’ve felt like just stopping at times) is to communicate with like-minded individuals. To me, that’s kind, compassionate people with humor and grace. There are so many talented people “out there” and think your sentiments here are spot on. I’ve often felt vulnerable at times when commenting or thinking to myself — why doesn’t this person or that person they visit my blog when I do theirs? You’ve expressed it beautifully here! This is supposed to feel good and if it doesn’t, there’s really no point. I love your blog and this post was exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

    • Brigitte, I am so moved by your comment, I have chills. YOUR blog as well as a few others I admire inspired me to be honest and vulnerable in this post. To know that I am not alone in these feelings, to know that successful bloggers like yourself feel like quitting sometimes helps me to believe that maybe I’m doing an okay job here. It’s funny that you mention that this should feel good because I just journaled the other day, “Life should feel good!”

      Thank you for giving – your time, your encouragement, your comments, your heart – so generously and graciously.

  2. I went through a process of elimination very similar to yours. I could not keep up with all the blogs I followed, and I had to start unfollowing some. My biggest criteria aside from their content was whether or not they visited me back. I know it shouldn’t have to come down to that, but there is only so much time in the day, and I wanted to be sure to reciprocate to those bloggers who took the time to come to my site. Even with that, I can’t always stop by, but I try to at least once a week. One could spend his/her entire day reading blog posts if not careful. I don’t think my family would like that much. 😉

    • Carrie, you have no idea what a great example you are to the blogging community. I have learned so much from your example – not just your ability to write one heck-of-a-good post, but your dedication to give back to those who take an interest in your blog. I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled upon The Write Transition. You deserve every follow, comment, and award your receive. Okay, I’ll quit being mushy now. 🙂

      • How nice of you to say that! Thank you. You made my day. 🙂 And your kind words help make up for the porn site follows I’ve gotten today. Not cool to see naked boobs on the Gravatar of someone who just followed your blog. Not cool at all…

      • What’s the emoticon for laughing hysterically? Maybe it’s a compliment. They need you to write an article – which, I’m sure is the only reason people visit that site – for the insightful articles. 🙂

        One time I opened an email from a blog . . . and there were more than just boobs exposed. Yikes! You’re right; not cool at all.

      • Yeah, you have to be careful what you open. Surprises around every corner…

        I hope my recent post about nutties didn’t invite the boobies, but it’s entirely possible.

      • I’ve received some of those nude follows myself, Carrie, Anita. And no, it’s not cool..ew. Stop, stop the madness I say.

  3. Thanks Anita for having the guts to write and publish what lots of bloggers must feel. It’s so easy to get caught in the “numbers game” when blogging. It’s similar to Facebook, and how the number of friends reflects one’s popularity, which we know is bull. There are so many bloggers and spammers working the system, that the numbers are essentially meaningless anyway.

    We’ve been blogging for nearly two years, and have had great fun with it. However, we’ve always followed the rule that our blog is primarily a communication tool, a fun outlet for our ideas and experiences, and a way to connect with interesting people. It’s not a job or a way to prove anything. It’s meant to be fun, and if we don’t feel like posting, we don’t. We really it enjoy it when we find interesting fellow bloggers, and we engage with them. And people like you, and blogs like your’s are exactly what we enjoy. Your blog is unique, interesting, and you have a wonderful talent. Thanks for sharing it with us and the blogosphere. ~James & Terri

    • Thank y’all. (That’s my Texas talkin’.) I’m starting to learn that the numbers can be terribly misleading. I try not to obsess about mine, but it can get discouraging when I notice other blogs growing so rapidly. I’ve learned to truly appreciate the people who follow this blog. I’ve noticed that those who do are kind, interesting, funny, intelligent, and talented – which makes this enjoyable and worthwhile.

      I’m encouraged to know that there will still be plenty of interesting things to talk about and post after nearly two years. At nine months, I sometimes wonder if I’m going to run out of things to say. And I’m taking to heart what you said about having fun with this blogging thang. 🙂

  4. My dear friend, I have nominated you for The Sunshine Award! Congratulations! please visit this link:transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-sunshine-award-3/

  5. I loved this post so much and can’t imagine you ever having a lone clap in the crowd! I’m pretty new to this and still find myself amazed that there’s even one person out there who’s interested in what I have to say. 🙂 But getting feedback and knowing that you’ve touched someone else in some small way is pretty amazing.

    I, too, have recently gotten back into the swing of meditation–but I’m still at the try-real-hard-to-not-fall-asleep stage. But you’ve inspired me to keep at it. Those quiet moments of clarity and rejuvination are invaluable. And you are absolutely right! When we focus on the negative emotions surrounding a slight, or any bad experience really, it’s like creating a welcome sign for more of it. Something I have to remind myself often.

    • Carly, thank you so much for visiting. Yours is actually the blog I mentioned in this post – adding to my list of follows “simply because I think it’s great”. I love what you’re doing on your blog, and I was so happy to find it.

      I can’t relate at all to what you said about falling asleep during meditation. 😉 Using the “ah” sound during my morning meditation really helps me stay alert. But during the evening, I use the “om” sound and I get sooo relaxed. . . . At least it leads to a very peaceful night’s sleep. 🙂

      I am constantly reminding myself to focus on what I want – rather than what I don’t want. I see tiny miracles happening all the time – like finding your blog the other day.

  6. This speaks to me, from the “friend” aspect described, to the screenwriting blog I had for over a year, my own Facebook as well as numerous FB Business pages. For years it’s been unwritten etiquette in blogging to reciprocate posts, one couldn’t last without. I carry this on with my FB, I run through the likes and comments and then reciprocate on the poster’s own page. I noticed most don’t do the same so I posted this in my “Favorite Quotes” profile, for all to read — “Use etiquette– if I like something on your page or comment, visit mine and do the same. Thank you.” Some get it, some don’t.

    A person said “you’re always so generous with your likes”. Why wouldn’t I be? It doesn’t cost me anything, that just struck me as strange.

    But, back to the root of friends, yes, it has to be give and take from both sides. You’re a great writer, and obviously a fantastic singer and musician. You have a lot to offer here, keep up the good work!

    • Brian, it’s so good to see you here! Thank you for visiting. You took the words right out of my mouth about Facebook “likes”. I’ve never understood why some seem to be so stingy with the like button. As you said, it costs nothing (doesn’t even cost much time) and it’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m listening. I support you. I care.” Don’t we all need that?

      I love your etiquette quote. Maybe we all need etiquette courses for today’s online world. 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words. I truly appreciate every bit of encouragement – it means the world to me.

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