Back when I used to write for the major paper here in Nashville, a rule of thumb when it came to sourcing was Wikipedia was an absolute no-no. There are a billion reasons why, but when it comes to what a clear and concise definition of comfort zone is, I think it breaks it all down pretty well. According to Wikipedia, a comfort zone is "a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment". On the surface, that sounds pretty good right? What's wrong with wanting to be in familiar surroundings that put you at ease and make you feel like you are in control? Nothing. To a point.
Stuff starts to get weird and unhealthy when what's familiar—whether it's a person, place, thing or idea—is no longer serving you, when "being at ease" is synonymous with being stagnant and, you're so in control that you won't allow life to teach you anything or introduce you to something new. When your world gets to this point and place, you are well on your way to becoming a comfort zone addict—someone who habitually remains in a space that keeps them from flourishing and thriving.
And that's what we're going to explore today; eight signs that you very well could be addicted to your comfort zone and why you should go cold turkey and stop if you are. A wise person once said that, "Great things never come from comfort zones." When it comes to living one's best life, I would definitely have to agree. Are you ready to know for sure if you are too comfortable in your comfort zone?
Your Daily Routine Resembles a Hamster Wheel
Don't get me wrong. A lot of people could stand to have more of a daily routine because the benefits of doing so are endless. Daily routines can help to keep you organized. Daily routines can help you to manage your time better. Daily routines can hold you accountable to getting things done. Daily routines are necessary; very much so.
But as I share, as often as I can, Aristotle once said, "The excess of a virtue is a vice." In other words, anything that lacks balance can end up being totally unhealthy—or, at the very least, counterproductive—for us. When it comes to daily routines, if they are so rigid and regimented that you don't leave room for trying something new or even taking time off when your mind or body says that you need it, well, you could find yourself being more busy than productive.
Remember, the hamster spends a lot of time running around in that wheel. At the same time, at the end of the day, he's not really getting anywhere. Moral to the story is, if your daily routine doesn't ultimately help you to make great progress, you need to switch things up because it's actually working more against than for you than you think.
Risk Is the Ultimate Four-Letter Cuss Word to You
Some people hate to take risks. To a certain extent, I can see why. One definition of risk is "exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance" and who wants to be here doing stuff that is considered dangerous? However, another definition is "to venture upon; take or run the chance of" and yes, that is always worth, at least the consideration of doing. The key is to do your best to take risks that are wise and will serve you well.
How can you know for sure what those are? Ironically, that's where the risky part comes in. But what I will say is prayer, meditation, common sense and creating short- and long-term goals can help immensely. For instance, when I decided, 20 years ago this year, to write full-time, believe me when I say that it was quite the risk; especially financially. But before I did it, I spent time making connections, building up a portfolio, creating a personal mission statement (so I could be clear on what niche I would serve best in) and I disciplined myself to write daily (to the point now that sometimes I am able to pen 10,000-15,000 words on a daily basis, if needed). I didn't just up and decide "I'm a writer" and throw all caution to the wind; I prepared to become one. No one said that taking risks don't come without preparation. Only foolish people believe otherwise.
Best-selling author, Paulo Coelho once said, "If it's still on your mind, it's worth taking the risk." From an overall standpoint, I agree because, if something won't seem to let you go, that means it is something that is unresolved (and needs to be addressed) on some level in your life. Just make sure that you take some time out to process why it weighs so heavily on your mind. For example, if your ex keeps taking up space in your head and heart and he mistreated you, I wouldn't say that you should "take a risk" and try and get back with him. What you might want to do, though, is "take a risk" and see a therapist, counselor or relationship coach (even if it makes you uncomfortable, at first) or, take a risk and date someone who isn't your "typical type" (check out "Should You Consider Dating Someone You're Not Attracted To?").
Some people treat the word "risk" like it's the ultimate cuss word because they automatically think if something makes them uncomfortable, they shouldn't do it. The bigger focus should be if the risk is going to result in self-harm in some way. A lot of things that make us uneasy won't kill us; they will simply encourage us to step out from our usual norm. That's exactly what a "wise risk" does and that's almost always a good thing.
You Think Peace Means Always Being Comfortable
Let's touch on that uncomfortable thing a bit more. I know some people who are always complaining about how unfulfilled they are, but still, they won't make any real changes in their life. When I inquire why, some of them say that even though they aren't exactly "thrilled" every day with how their life is going, things are peaceful, so why should they rock the boat? Listen, silence is one thing. Peaceful is something else. If you've read enough of my articles on the site, you know that I totally adore the Hebrew language (because it's the original language of the Bible) and the Hebrew word for peace is "shalom". Shalom ultimately breaks down into being whole and complete (among a few other things).
Keeping that in mind, say that you're currently working at a job that pays you well. Problem is, it doesn't really challenge you, there's no room for promotion, and you don't feel like your strengths are being utilized. Sure, your bills are getting paid on time (and that's certainly a valid point), but that doesn't change the fact that you almost feel like a dead woman walking on a daily basis. Sis, that's not peace. If where you spend 6-10 hours of your time each day isn't helping to make you feel more whole and at peace with your life, you are actually in a state of anti-peace. It's time to do something different. Sooner than later, too.
If It’s Not Already Been Done Before, You Talk Yourself Out of Doing It
Let's bring Scripture into this conversation for just a moment, shall we? If you look at Genesis 1:1(NKJV), the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Our first introduction to God is Him being a creator. To create is "to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes". When you read that, what's the word that immediately jumped out at you? For me, it was "unique". To create is to do something that is unique. Something that is truly unique is something that exists only as one, something that is totally incomparable and, something that is unusual.
I dig creatives. Not just people who profess they are one, but those whose life stories and inventions reveal that they truly are creative beings. They're the ones who didn't feel like they needed to follow a blueprint or do what someone else has already done in order to make things happen. They are the individuals who come up with an idea or concept that has people looking at them like, "Ninja, are you crazy?!" A risk-taker responds to that question with a grin and an up-and-down head nod. A comfort zone addict takes that as I sign that they shouldn't step out. To them, if other people don't "get it", it shouldn't be done.
If you tend to fall into Category B more than you'd care to admit, here's something to keep in mind.
The ideas that come to your mind that you can't really compare to something else, 8 times out of 10, those are the ones that you should consider to be the truly creative ones. And since your Creator does unique things (like creating you, for example), it is actually an act of honor and worship to God to give it a shot. Just think if the Spirit rethought making you because you hadn't already existed before. Just think about how much the world would've missed out because of it. Create, sis. If you don't do anything else in this life, make sure that you do that!
You Don’t Fully Utilize Your Gifts and Talents
Listen, anything you're doing (on the professional tip) that is not encouraging you to make the absolute most of your God-given gifts and talents is wasting your time. Wasting? Yes, because waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return". The happiest and most self-satisfied people I know aren't the wealthiest. They are the ones who get to get up, each and every day, and do what they love—what they are good at, what makes them feel like they aren't even really working (minus the required self-discipline, of course).
By no means am I saying that if you realize you aren't using your gifts and talents that you should quit your job today (you also can't use them if you don't have a place to live after getting evicted for not paying your bills). What I am saying is that, at the very least, you should ponder over what you can do that will help you to tap more into the things that you were naturally born with. A lot of people don't realize that comfort can be a real waste. Please don't be one of them.
Even If You’ve Got a Bucket List, Nothing Is Checked Off on It
It's my humble opinion that everyone, even kids, should have a bucket list. They help to give our life (more) meaning and direction. They hold us accountable to have fun and try out new things. They are a great way to create wonderful memories. They are one way to set short- and long-term goals. They teach us things about ourselves, others and the world around us as a whole. They also help to make sure that we aren't stagnant; that we keep moving forward.
I once read a study that stated 95 percent of people have bucket lists. It also said that 66 percent said they intended to check one thing off a year. A year? With some of my clients, every time their birthday rolls around, we jot down their age and then come up with as many things as their age is to do before their next birthday rolls around. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. One way to make life feel bigger and even better is to create a bucket list and commit to knocking at least 10 things off of it on an annual basis (because who said that you can't edit or add to your list as time moves on?).
You Are Mad Impatient
An author by the name of Laura Teresa Marquez provided some great fortune-cookie-and-beyond insight when she said, "When we get impatient because something is taking too long, we should remember that Life waits on us a thousand times more than we wait on." To me, this means that life is waiting on us to line up with the plans that it already has for us than we're waiting on life to reveal them. This quote definitely came to mind while I re-watched KevOnStage's documentary,A Calculated Risk. This youth pastor-turned-comedian-turned-9-to-5 person-turned-self-made man has quite a wonderful yet super-sacrificial story about how he took risks in order to live out his dreams. If you know anything about Kev, you can vouch for the fact that while he's not an overnight success, years later (not 2-3 either; several) stuff is really starting to pay off—BIG TIME.
A lot of people who are comfort zone addicts, they've already got all that they need to thrive in their own lane too. But if they don't see things that they attempt manifest in one year or less, they tend to quit. Unlike with Kev's journey, what that ends up doing them is costing them—BIG TIME. Stepping outside of one's comfort zone requires waiting, delays and disappointments. Your being willing to push through all of that for the greater goal is what will make it well worth your while. It's what some of the best success stories are made up of as well.
You’re Bored. Most of the Time.
"Bored" is a great word. The reason why I say that is because it's got a ton of different meanings, and all of them can alert you to whether or not you're living your life as "BIG" as you should be.
What are some clear indications that you are currently bored with the way your life is going (or not going)? You complain a lot. You always need somebody or something to keep you entertained. You tend to have many vices. You rarely feel inspired to get out of bed in the mornings. You wrestle with the green-eyed monster (envy). You're irrationally competitive with other people. You're critical—including super self-critical. I could go on and on, chile, but it all basically boils down to being weary with your life…because you're existing more than you're actually LIVING it.
Author Charles F. Glassman once said, "Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible." If you just read all of this and recognized that you are way more stuck in your comfort zone than you ever thought, the good news is that today you can make some real and significant changes. Try something new. Plan to do something that will help your strengths to shine through. Stop ignoring that voice in your head that keeps telling you to make that phone call, send that email or start that company.
Comfort zones may be comfortable but don't confuse it with stagnation. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. And that oftentimes requires breaking totally out of your comfort zone(s).
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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Whoever coined the phrase, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” certainly was not referring to the state of our dating scene. Whether online or in real life, you don't have to go far to hear the grievances of singles calling for the immediate repair of all leaks, cracks, and fractures in the dating pool.
No matter the state you live in, your age, how much you earn for a living, or if you’re a chronic app dater, there’s a general consensus that something (anything) must be done to restore the hope of singles looking for long-term, fulfilling relationships. And as many of us hold on to the hope for an unexpected cross-encounter with our next love story, others are leaning on the side of giving up completely. But before throwing in the towel, it might be time to make a few adjustments.
Dating Apps Are In Their Flop Era, Making Connections IRL Is Where It's At
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Many singles agree that spending their leisure time swiping through dating apps is out. What’s in is stepping out of one's comfort zone to make connections in the real world. Scary. We know. But unless you were one of the lucky few to find love on dating apps before its flop era or made a love connection from home during the pandemic, going about your dating life the same way is bound to render the same results: being single with a headache. And we want better for you.
It’s safe to say that constantly meeting strangers off the internet for a chance to find love has lost its charm, leaving singles open to the train, farmer’s market, the gym, or a friend’s house party to be prime real estate for matching up with potential partners.
This shift, as Marissa Nelson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and BLK’s Relationship and Intimacy Expert tells xoNecole, is due in part to a growing concern about the authenticity of online profiles — in other words: is what you’re seeing, in fact, what you’re getting? “From their profile picture, what they say they do, the height they say they are; it’s this fear of, ‘Am I really talking to who I think I'm speaking to?'” she explains.
On our journey to finding “the one” out in the real world, a common question is, “Where do you find the available singles?” The short answer is, everywhere. The long answer is at the grocery store, on a plane, during happy hours, at work, at a conference, on a solo vacation, or, as Nelson puts it, anywhere you are showing up as your most open and vulnerable self.
“You never know where the connection is going to come from, which is why it's even more important to be receptive, to stay open, be curious, and lean into your vulnerability,” she says. In fact, Nelson encourages singles to release themselves of the rigidity around finding the perfect person at the “perfect” place, because, in essence, there isn’t one. “We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people,” she says. “We have to be open to however love shows up.”
"We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people. We have to be open to however love shows up."
We all can relate to the fact that the idea of shooting our shot in real life is a lot more exciting than the actual act. The relationship expert explains that one of the greatest hesitations to us putting ourselves out there and taking a chance on love is rooted in the fear of rejection. However, it’s important to keep in mind that “we’ve all been hurt” and most importantly, “we’re all afraid of rejection.”
That’s why Nelson suggests the following strategies to make the first move and find love in your everyday life.
1. Don't close yourself off.
“When you relax your expectations, you start to meet really cool people. Some of those cool people became friends and that makes your life richer because now, you have new friends and great people to hang out with. Even if it wasn't a love match, it can become a significant or meaningful friendship.”
2. Don't let your "type" hold you back.
“We all have a type. And a lot of women will say, ‘I like them tall. I like them like this or that.’ When we’re rigid about who we believe we ought to be with versus being open to people who might be more aligned with our values, we close ourselves off. Sure, you're not going to date somebody that you are absolutely not attracted to. But people have a lot of unwritten rules around who they will allow themselves to get to know, and I challenge people to challenge their rules because that can hold you back from expansive experiences.”
3. Make the first move.
“I think that if we can be bold, be brave, and if there's somebody that's good-looking, catches your eye, or just seems like they have a good vibe, we can approach them with curiosity. Ask them how they're doing. Introduce yourself. It doesn't have to lead to all these things; you can just have chemistry and flow from there.”
4. Ask better questions.
“When you meet someone for the first time, asking them ‘What do you do?’ is not the best first question because that only tells you what they do for money, not necessarily what they're passionate about. To get insight into who that person truly is, ask: What are you passionate about in your life right now? What lights you up? What excites you? What are you working towards?”
5. Shift your mindset.
“We've all been hurt. And we can be guarded because we don't want to get hurt again. The brain is a very complex and brilliant system designed to keep us safe, and emotional survival is a real thing. We become super protective, and in that, we come up with a lot of different rules, paradigms, [and] belief systems. The biggest mindset shift is: how can we do our own work to know and believe that we are worthy and deserving of love.”
Whether you’re on a dating app or roaming your local Trader Joe’s, love is everywhere — and the abundance of love is available to us once we remove limiting beliefs that make it feel scarce and out of reach. Vulnerability, shedding our walls, and openness just might be the tweaks we need to snitch up the dating streets and watch it heal for the better.
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