Comfort Zone Expansion 101

Jeni Rodger_WELCOME MAT_cutouts

I can be kind of standoffish a lot of the time. People might think I’m stuck-up or just not very nice, but really it’s because I have a shy side, and a huge problem with feeling self-conscious and uptight around others. This makes sharing my home space with just about anybody except my husband and pets a bit of a cortisol-raising undertaking. However, that’s what I’m doing right now. I’ve got people occupying my bathroom, putting some serious wear and tear on my washer and dryer, and–worst of all–seeing what an appallingly disorganized mess of a life I live.

You’d think I’d be better at it–coexisting, I mean. I’ve been a stepparent for quite a few years now, albeit mostly kind of a hands-off one, largely for the purpose of self-preservation. (Hey, it’s a tough gig for even the charismatic among us!) I had roommates all through college and have always socialized pretty normally. I have no problem talking in front of people–actually, some of my favorite jobs and activities have involved public speaking and leadership. Heck, some people, if they see me under the right conditions, might even think I’m outgoing–and I suppose under the right conditions I am outgoing (wink-wink) [cue sound of bottles clinking, caps popping...].

Truthfully, though, I’m an extremely private person who really loves her own space, her own stuff, and the security of knowing that her environment is stable and without surprises. If I want surprises, I’ll go out into the world and interact. But I need a place to withdraw to, a place where I can escape the nagging feelings of chaos, scrutiny, and judgment (even if they’re all in my head), and where, instead of feeling awkward and abnormal, I can be at home with what I think, how I talk, how I spend my time, and what I look like.

Over the past year I’ve given up a lot of my privacy, some of my discretionary funds, and, more recently, quite a bit of my autonomy. I’ve caught heat from concerned people who think that I might be letting myself get walked on a little bit, but I disagree.  It’s a temporary situation. When you’re in a family you make some sacrifices because you care. I made the choice to be in a family, so I’m doing what I think is right. It’s tough sometimes. Sometimes I think if one more person comes through the front door with some issue or other, I’m just going to scream. I currently have the house to myself for the weekend due to everybody else going to an out-of-town event, and it does feel great. However, even when the gang’s all here, I have to admit they’re all pretty cool and cooperative.

Besides, maybe it’s good for me to have to get used to coexisting with other humans again. I’ve noticed myself opening up more and being less uptight. If you’ve been reading previous posts, you know I even went out with “the girls” a couple of weeks ago, something I haven’t done in years. I’m actually starting to go with the flow more in daily life, not getting so stressed out when plans change, because with this bunch they always do. I’m starting to feel less like a slightly dumber version of Sheldon Cooper and more like a slightly happier version of me.

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4 thoughts on “Comfort Zone Expansion 101

  1. I’m basically a private person too. For me, it gets easier to open up as I get older. In a few days, I’m going to have company for two weeks though and I’m freaking out about it–mostly about the cooking I’ll be obliged to do.

  2. Dang it. I read your stuff and I feel so … nonproductive! As we say in the business, this was “another good read.”

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