How Discomfort Can Empower Us to Change

The visionary heart is a repository of untapped courage.

Photo by Zoe Deal on Unsplash

What to do when something is missing from our life and we can’t quite put our finger on it?

Perhaps we’re stuck in a situation that looks inescapable, yearning for more, glimpsing possibilities that we dare not allow ourselves to consider just yet.

Our restless heart longs for the kind of fulfilment reason won’t sanction because to want something more or different implies deficiency, lack, absence. There’s a crack somewhere for sure, and the more we think about it, the wider it becomes.

What if the hairline fracture turns into a fault line and an earthquake happens because we thought too much? Although we keep trying to repress those thoughts, they won’t leave us alone, they keep coming back.

Whatever it is that we long for, it’s attempting to yank us out of our comfort zone and pull us toward the unknown.

Are we prepared to go explore or will we stay put?

To want something else doesn’t mean an absence of gratitude for what we have — we can be grateful for a current situation that no longer meets our needs, like a personal or professional relationship all parties have outgrown but maintain out of habit or convenience.

Everything in life is about connections between humans, how fleeting and transient they appear until we choose to grow and nurture them. The opportunity to do so is a gift that should never be squandered, especially if we’ve ever been intimately familiar with disconnectedness, be it as a result of chronic illness, hardship, geography…

Or none of the above; it’s no longer unusual to be surrounded by others yet utterly alone, without anyone to listen to us or hold our hand.

Modern life is often a collection of lonelinesses in parallel.

For my part, I come from loneliness, isolation, and alienation and I know how heavy they can get, so heavy at times you feel they might crush you when there’s no one around to act as a buffer between your person and the void.

It often feels like no one cares.

But it isn’t quite so. In my darkest hour, I often turn to the internet for words of succor that might help me transcend difficulty.

As someone who worships no particular god, I tend to look for the divine in fellow humans, and language is the closest thing I have to religion. While philosophy placates reason, it is the everyday narratives of those who care enough about our shared humanness to document it that help soothes my heart.

And yet, there’s always someone to dissuade us from making our vision manifest by enumerating the reasons why we’re not cut out for whatever endeavour makes our heart beat faster. Sometimes, that someone will even be us, our sense of duty standing firm in the face of change.

Why allow bilious pronouncements to deter us? They come from voices that do not care about us and want to hijack our attention to make this about other people.

It isn’t, it’s our life, it’s about us. Steer clear from anyone who peddles spite; they’re unhelpful, corrosive, dispiriting.

Protect your vision, cherish it, and nurture it to the best of your abilities.

The enemy of possibility is apathy, not the absence of validation or definition. If what you envision needs to remain shrouded in secrecy to grow then so be it.

Let your vision light up your path.

What does it mean to try and fit in a world that doesn’t cater to you. Should we even try?

I’ve always lived at a remove, holding hands with darkness and if that’s your case too, here’s what I realized recently: Ours is a drastically different vantage point that makes for a non-standard perspective. This is invaluable in a culture of clones, copycats, and mediocre mass everything. Daring to stray from the norm and refusing to conform can be quite the challenge so why not relish it?

I do.

Writing is how I build bridges but I generally don’t know where they will lead, only what direction I’m traveling in: forward. Then again, I’m curious to a fault and any destination is better than where I’m at. There have been numerous setbacks, mishaps, and messes already, and there will be more.

No matter.

I think of them as tests of character to check if I have stamina, if I can endure.

Because when our heart is on board with our vision, we endure, somehow. We endure because quitting is not an option, not when we’ve invested so much of ourselves into something that breathes life into us.

Shun inertia. Listen to your heart. Ignore the naysayers. Take a deep breath. Take another. Then smile, because you can do the thing. You’ve got it in you so believe in yourself and get started. Sure, you might fail but at least you won’t be left wondering what might have happened if only you had tried.

But there’s also a strong probability you will succeed and transcend, thus proving to yourself you have it in you to do and be so much more.

To make it easier, let go of the outcome, enjoy building something from scratch, enjoy evolving, enjoy becoming even if it takes forever. Progress is seldom linear; instead, it is the result of innumerable tiny steps taken day after day. No one sums this up better than Brené Brown in Daring Greatly:

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

Process is the teacher; change is the reward.

So why not enjoy the journey?

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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