Abandoning the comfort zone

I’m a pretty cautious person, as a rule. I know what I like, and I tend to stick to it whenever possible. Some people might think that’s boring – but as far as I’m concerned, my comfort zone is my happy place, and I like it there, so why would I leave?

But every once in a while I have a mad impulsive moment, where I say yes to things I wouldn’t usually want to try. It’s generally accompanied by a fit of enthusiasm for broadening my horizons, pushing limits, and that sort of thing. (And just to be clear, we’re not talking jumping out of planes here; I’m impulsive, not insane.)

An example. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by the very lovely Caroline at Carn’s Theatre Passion to review FanSHEN’s Invisible Treasure at Ovalhouse, a show whose write-up begins: ‘No actors. No plot. But there’s you.’

Photo credit: Cat Lee
Photo credit: Cat Lee

Now – I love the theatre, but as a rule I like the kind of show where you sit in the dark, and everyone looks at the stage, not each other. So after spontaneously saying yes, it didn’t take long for me to start worrying about exactly what I’d let myself in for. And that anxiety only increased when it turned out all my friends were busy (or possibly they were just scared, too) and I would have to go on my own. The horror…

I don’t want to give away all the secrets of Invisible Treasure (and if you’re after a full review, you can find my thoughts at Carn’s Theatre Passion), but here’s a quick summary: a group of strangers go into a room, where a screen on the wall sets them a series of video game challenges, while a sinister giant rabbit with glowing eyes sits in the corner watching. To solve the challenges and progress with the game, the group have to work together to figure out what to do, and then everyone has to contribute to actually doing it.

Also, there’s line dancing in the dark. But that’s another story.

It soon became clear that there were some natural leaders in our group. These were the people who were quite happy to try anything, however mad – wave their arms about, go alone into small spaces, shout random words – and confidently issue instructions to the rest of the group.

Photo credit: Cat Lee
Photo credit: Cat Lee

It also became abundantly clear that I am not one of those people. I was one of the group who were happier standing back, keeping quiet and then joining in once someone else had figured out what to do. And occasionally just looking around in bewilderment going, ‘Huh?’ along with everyone else.

There are a few reasons for this, I think:

  1. I don’t like looking stupid – and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling throughout the experience that someone was watching us and having a good laugh at our increasingly desperate attempts to solve the puzzles.
  2. I hate being centre of attention. Which is why the bit where a member of the group has to come and dance on the spot in the middle of the room, while everyone else watches them, was never going to happen.
  3. I’m a thinker; I like to process ideas in my head first before I share them with anyone else. Which is probably why I’m not very good in a brainstorm situation; I tend to do all the discussion internally, and by the time I’m ready to share, everyone else has finished and gone to lunch.

So, yes. Invisible Treasure was definitely new and unfamiliar territory, but I’m glad I went. It was fun – even if it was often slightly bemused, uncomfortable fun – and I liked the fact that everyone, even us quiet ones, had a part to play in getting out of the room alive*. And I do think it’s important to try new things from time to time, however terrifying they might seem beforehand, if only because you can head back to your comfort zone feeling proud that you gave it a go.

I’m still not jumping out of any planes, though.

* This may be a small exaggeration.


5 thoughts on “Abandoning the comfort zone

  1. sounds really cool. Admittedly, a couple months ago I wouldn’t have wanted to go to something like this, however, a a half term into my first semester at uni and it does sound found. Well done you for going. I look forward to your next step out of the comfort zone. 🙂

    1. That’s great Paul, hope uni’s going well! Yes it was definitely interesting, not sure it’s something I’d rush to do again but I’m glad I went 🙂

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