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Comfort zone

Random thoughts in Costa RicaWhen you travel alone you’re always out there, like a raw nerve looking for a soothing balm. If you stick to a schedule you have the comfort of that structure, the knowledge you’re going to be at a certain place at a certain time…or at least that’s what you plan. Whatever happens you have that to lean on. Where are you going? Where are you staying? What are you doing? You have answers to those questions. If you don’t have a schedule, things get a lot more interesting.

Wherever you go becomes a comfort zone. Have the balls to sit down in a new restaurant? By the time your meal comes it’s become your new temporary home. A place that you can return to when you get hungry again because you know how things work. The world drifts on by outside. Sit on a bus knowing it’s going to the right place, that too soon becomes a home to you, the outside world world somewhere else. Your destination, a new and unfamiliar place where you will have to find a new safe zone. The people on the bus, your bus, your new temporary family. Get to know someone at a hostel, wherever you go carries with it a mobile safe point, them. Find them again randomly in a different place, once again you have a fallback of someone to talk with, spend time with, eat with, whatever.

It happens quickly and unconsciously. Spend enough time anywhere and it begins to happen. Think about your daily routines at home, the restaurants you go to, the bars you frequent, the coffee shops you like. When was the last time you tried someplace new? Did that new place become safe and a part of your list of ‘regular’ places? Why or why not? Did you go there with someone who had already been there or did you try it on your own? Think about it some time. It’s hard to notice while you’re in the comfort zone of where you live but when you’re abroad, it’s a hyper fast process┬áthat if you think about it is quite apparent.

I just thought I’d mention this because it’s an idea that has really stood out so far on this trip. With 5 years since my last adventure I’ve had some time to grow, think, and mature. Things that I took for granted last time out now stick out like sore thumbs. The other travelers I’ve talked to about this concept stared off into space for a couple minutes thinking about their journeys and then agreed completely. Most of them had never thought about it. No idea why I suddenly did, other than because I began to wonder why I felt nervous when leaving certain places and comfortable entering others while abroad. I guess the same could be said for certain situations, like traveling without solid plans. That seems to be my comfort zone. Planning down to the last detail isn’t for me, it makes me nervous and edgy. After all, what if some awesome opportunity came up that you couldn’t do because everything was already set in stone?

My reason for sharing is because the more you think about it the more you’re able to overcome the fear of the new places realizing with only a little work that unfamiliar can become the familiar, no matter how strange or out of your normal comfort zone it is. Food for thought…


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