Tag Archives: comfort zones

Comfort Zones

1 Nov

As I sat alone at a dimly lit wine bar in West Hollywood after work, killing time while the traffic died down, I took in my surroundings. The owner and waiters had thick Italian accents, the room was large but intimate and mostly everyone sat at the bar.

I took to the lounge area, where a black and white Audrey Hepburn film was projected on a screen on the wall. The candles on the tables were my only source of light and as I grabbed out my notepad, the waiter thoughtfully asked if he could bring me a lamp, then returned to clamp a book-light on the candle votive in front of me.

The tunes of Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and the Eagles played in the background and posters of Old Hollywood graced every wall, even in the bathroom. I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and some roasted fingerling potatoes with sautéed green beans and a light dusting of Parmesan. And as I ate, I realized I was alone.

I wasn’t uncomfortable or embarrassed about this, but I recognized how out of habit I kept reaching to check my phone. It’s like I subconsciously pulled it out to remind myself that I wasn’t alone at all – that my friends and family were a phone call away. The phone acted as some kind of anchor to my life outside this restaurant, something to hide behind and something to find comfort in.

In that moment, I was struck with the realization that in 71 days I will be leaving all the comforts of home behind. Toilet paper, Western toilets and hot showers will become a luxury. I will have to question the safety of the water placed on my table and I’ll have to buy inexpensive bags to act as decoys for the valuables inside, rather than buying overpriced purses to hold my lip balm.

squat toilet

Western toilet

When I sit alone in a restaurant in Asia, I will have the accent. I will have to decipher the menu and I won’t have my handy dandy iPhone to help me, or to numb any lurking loneliness or boredom.

Reality sets in and I start to fear the change.

Why is that we always long for something different and then when we finally take the steps towards making a change fear creeps in? My mind begins to race: “What if the culture shock is so intense I regret going? Am I really prepared for this? What if I hate Asia? Why did I decide to buy a one-way ticket to a country I’ve never been to, to travel around for months or possibly years?”

But I snap out of it as quickly as I was sucked into it.

I am ready. I’m going because I’ve been wanting this, itching for it, aching for it, for almost two years now. I’ve traveled to Europe; I’ve traveled in North America, I to want something radically different. I want to be shocked. I want to be shaken. I want to learn and I want to change.

I’ve been juggling four different jobs over the past few months and every time I get burnt out because it’s been weeks since I’ve had a day off, thoughts of walking through wats, eating authentic street food, meeting locals, learning about the culture and creating lifelong memories, get me through it every time.

I’ve worked so hard to get here, why doubt myself now? How can I possibly be afraid of taking the reigns of my life and diving in headfirst into something I’ve always dreamed of doing? I can’t. I bought the ticket; I’m taking the ride.

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