It is almost appalling how many times a day I am asked why I decided to move, why I left California for Chicago, or why I am leaving Chicago for Rome. I have fallen into the habit of giving a series of various automated responses like, “It’s a great school” or “Where better to study art?” or (my personal favorite) “I got bored and needed something new”.  I guess I’ve been naïve in thinking that uprooting my life to a foreign country (where I don’t speak the language) was self-explanatory. Apparently it isn’t.

So here is the real explanation: I want to blow the proverbial lid off of my comfort zone. I want to be challenged daily, in a real way.

During the two years I lived in Chicago I somehow morphed into an introvert that I did not recognize. This happened during a strange and borderline disappointing transition from kid to kinda-sorta adult, with a limited yet palpable sense of freedom. I had a city at my fingertips… Free transportation, a kick-ass shoebox size apartment, a dwindling checking account, employment and an attitude to spare. Needless to say, I seemingly had it all. Except for a life!

I fell into a comfortable space leaning on surrounding familiarities, like nearby relatives and friends from high school. It seemed as though I was incapable of making or maintain any real relationships. The missing personal connection in my life left me in a (for lack of a better word) “funk”. I was left completely uninspired, which as a result made me angry, lonely, and severely lacking in confidence. All I could think was, “What the hell? What does a girl gotta do to find herself, you know?” Well I came up with a solution.

I am moving to a new country – one I know very little about. I refuse to believe egregious stereotypes, as if they are supposed to inform me about my new home. I am looking to destroy my comfort zone all together… To challenge myself, to reevaluate the world around me every day, and realize there are things much greater than myself. To force myself into creating and facilitating new relationships in a culture that I do know how communicate in. To learn a new language and take on the difficult task of learning a critical life skill for the first time. To refresh my sense of awareness in an unfamiliar reality.

Of course I have my fair share of fears and doubts – but those come second to my long dormant sense of wanderlust and my adventurous spirit. Ultimately I am going to remove myself from this so-called “funk”.

I extend this anecdote as a challenge to you lovelies, to evaluate your own comfort zones. To question whether or not you are truly living or rather going through the motions, as so many of us do. I challenge you to move beyond that place, however small or drastic. Try something new. Go to a new coffee shop. Wear the bright pink lipstick. Find a new cause and fight for it with all that you have. Say hello to a stranger. Move. Whatever it is, do it. After all, monotony kills. Do not let it get to you. Always give love – wherever you go or whatever you do – that will create change for yourself and for others.

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