Comfort is Your Nemesis

by Sean O’Brien, Head Editor, INALJ Colorado

Comfort is Your Nemesis

15188252622411237047 - Copy - CopyI was watching a Star Trek movie the other day.

Not the new one, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, but an older one, with Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes, and even Tom Hardy back when he weighed less than I do.  Captain Picard was lounging around at his desk, musing aloud whether or not the gentleman with the shiny purple jumpsuit and the $30 World of Warcraft knife was the film’s protagonist.  The conversation turned to Picard’s youth, and the Captain’s lip curled up into a snarl.  “(I) was a damn fool,” he spat.  “Selfish.”

“Ambitious.”

At this point I sat up, puzzled.  Ambitious?  Is that such a great sin, to be piled in with selfishness, with being a fool?  Certainly Picard has no need for ambition; he already has everything he wants.  He spends all his time in his intergalactic party bus, tearing up the Universe with all of his friends.  He has a room where he can live out any of his favorite literary adventures.  He has a machine that can generate anything he can think to ask for.  Like a magic lamp, all he has to do is speak the words.  “Computer!  Earl Grey, hot.  Music, Chopin.  Career, fulfilling.”

“The rest of us on Earth don’t have such luxuries,” I thought.  “So of course we’re ambitious.”  And that’s when it hit me; the problem isn’t necessarily that Picard has all of these futuristic toys, that he has a life free from dental bills and traffic accidents and identity theft.  The problem is that he is comfortable.

Now before I get off track, let me clarify by saying that I don’t think he should sell his worldly goods and wander the earth, or that anyone else should, unless they feel truly compelled to.  It is a great blessing to have a bed to sleep in, enough to eat, and people that care about you.  The problematic comfort I am talking about is the kind that keeps you from growing.  The kind where a person doesn’t like their job, but hey!  It’s better than having no job!  Maybe if I just stick it out, things will be okay.

“I don’t want to take on more projects at work; I might not be that helpful.”  “I’m too old to take more classes; everyone will wonder why I’m there.”  “I’m too shy to make new friends, too out of shape to go to the gym, too slow to learn something new.”  Comfort is the nagging voice in the back of your head that says “Stay put.  It’s safer here.”

What that voice wants you to forget is that when we are uncomfortable is where all of our growth happens.  It’s the butterflies when we go in for an interview.  It’s the ache in our legs after a long run.  It’s the brief confusion as we learn a new skill.  Discomfort generates action, which is otherwise known as ambition.

So get out there, away from your comfort zone.  Ask your boss for new responsibilities at work.  Learn a new skill.  Try a new hobby.  Talk to new people.  Apply for a job that you don’t think you’re fully qualified for.  Start a project where you don’t completely know what you’re doing.  The worst that can happen is that you’ll be where you’re at now, but with new knowledge and experience in tow.  Every now and then, stop being comfortable.  Be ambitious.  You might be glad you did.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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