The Comfort Zone

Wait, I’m making such a fool of myself!

— Foolish Bubbul

You know what? The comfort zone is underrated. Under-appreciated. Undervalued. We have all been taught to try and leave it, but have we ever examined why?

“But the meaning of life is to express your full potential by overcoming hard tasks!” Oh shut your mouth and suck it. I got something hard to beat for you right here that’s not gonna overcome by itself.

The end goal of every career is one that you are comfortable in. The end goal of every dating life is to find the girl that you are comfortable with. The end goal of every freshman in college is to find a group that they feel comfortable in. Imagine a life where you just walk around and find things that make you uncomfortable. People would laugh at that guy and call him an idiot. Isn’t comfort the default, the end goal that we all shoot for?

It all is kind of like the delicate balance between explore and exploit, a very well studied computer science problem. We all know the exploration phase. It’s filled with misery and uncertainty, bad experiences followed by ones that are even worse, and the occasional good one. And whenever you have found that thing that stands better than all the previous things you have found, you ask the question: is it time to stop exploring and start exploiting? And once you have made the decision to start exploiting that option, the possibility of other choices don’t weigh on your mind anymore, and you stick with the best choice that you have made in the exploration phase and become happy. This idea applies to all areas in life, like finding a hobby, what restaurant to eat, what board games to play, what kind of people to hang out with, and even where to park at.

Of course the exploration phase is important. Going broad is essential if we want to find the right direction to go deep. All coders know that before debugging an issue, it is prudent to spend a little bit of time exploring and evaluating all the possible causes before diving deep into one specific part of the code to find the bug. Imagine spending all that mental effort to descend through the abstract levels of data, just to find out at the bottom floor that it wasn’t the source of the bug after all. All creative thinkers also understand this, that in order to come up with the best idea, you have to throw everything you have at the wall and see what sticks. Without a broad exploration phase, there are no ideas to center in on one and dig deeper.

But arguably the more important phase of all of these processes is the exploitation part. That’s where you put most of your focus in, where most of the work gets done, and where all the magic happens. It defines who you are. It’s the answer to the question “Hey, tell me about yourself”. You don’t tell that person “Oh I used to do this, but then I tried doing that, and also that…” because then you just look like a whiny indecisive immature irresponsible child. You stick to your comfort zone and you exploit it because that is what a logical and optimal life looks like.

The only reason to ever leave the comfort zone is if you are not satisfied there. Like for example if I wanted to get a girlfriend, but I’ve never felt comfortable getting intimate with a girl before. Or if I want to become someone that I’m not right now, more confident, outspoken, and attractive. It’s really miserable, because it takes courage in order to leave the comfort zone and follow your desires. But despite that, the end goal is still to be comfortable with yourself. You can’t always try to leave your comfort zone; eventually you’ll tip that delicate balance between explore and exploit and spend more effort, waste more time, when you could have been happy all along. So hurry up, go in, and just try to enjoy yourself!

Anyways, these are the thoughts I use to encourage myself before I walk into my hip hop dancing class. Yeah, I tend to overthink things a bit. My classmates are all really nice and kind, I don’t know why I get so anxious being there. If you see me around, please remind this Foolish Bubbul to stop skipping this class that he signed up for!

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