Sitting in the modern and clean Paris airport, I have suddenly become very aware of how I define “my comfort zone.” I have lived a pretty sheltered life, which I am grateful for, but unfortunately it can cause some unnecessary judgments on my behalf. Judgements about places I don’t necessarily feel completely comfort in, people I don’t feel completely comfortable around, even smells that make me feel uncomfortable.
Being in Benin, I was pushed out of my comfort zone frequently, actually every day. Looking back on it now I remember feeling uneasy when we would first arrive at a location, but by the time we were leaving I felt comfortable. Reflecting on why this is, I realize it is because of the people. For example, one day we went to a drum village. Walking to the village was a long walk, pretty far off the main road and it was a little frightening. At the end of our time there we had all laughed, danced, and made music with the villagers. We all bonded in way that made us all feel like a family. I had gone from feeling uneasy and scared, to feeling welcomed and loved in the span of a few hours.
Feeling comfortable in a situation is about more than being around people you are familiar with, being in a clean location, or even in a place you feel totally safe. It is much more than luxurious airport chairs and clean bathrooms. My comfort zone is when I am around people that make me happy.