by Sean O’Brien, Head Editor, INALJ Colorado
Comfort is Your Nemesis
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.”
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.