Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My 2012 resolution: Be uncomfortable

In the past, my New Years Resolutions from year to year have been much the same: be nicer to my siblings, do my jobs without Mom telling me to, work out more, save money, get good grades. I usually came up with a list of 15–20 things I wanted to "improve" on that I smugly hung up somewhere in my bedroom or shyly hid in my journal.

But this year I decided to approach the New Years Resolution thing a little bit differently. As much as I love crossing things off my to-do list, I thought it would be more effective to focus on being rather than doing. If you don't know the difference, read this conference talk. It rocks.

I couldn't resist making a few list-like resolutions, but I made one resolution that became my theme for the year: be uncomfortable.

My bishop is always encouraging us to put ourselves into situations where we will be uncomfortable. Go out on missionary visits. Say hi to a long-haired hooligan. Bear your testimony to your co-workers. He's told me a couple of times that there's nothing he loves more than being uncomfortable, as long as it doesn't kill him.

I don't share Bishop Ayre's enthusiasm about discomfort. I've done a pretty good job avoiding it up till now. So I took upon myself a real New Years challenge this year; one that would require real change, not one that I would probably do even if I didn't consciously decide to do it.

While I didn't seize as many opportunities as I could have to be uncomfortable (even Bishop Ayre agrees that there's a limit to the amount of discomfort you can handle), I launched myself into the realm of discomfort many a time. In summary:

  • I went to several FHEs.
  • I participated in my ward's co-ed softball team.
  • I spoke in sacrament meeting.
  • I asked my home teachers to give me a blessing.
  • I made the best of my smoker's apartment.
  • I moved out of my smoker's apartment.
  • I worked out where people could see me.
  • I decided to go to grad school.
  • I survived my first semester of grad school.
  • I voiced my opinions at work.
  • I voiced my opinions at school.
  • I asked more questions at work (and not just through email—I approached people for help more times than I care to remember).
  • I shared a little bit more of myself on my blog.
  • I talked to people at work a little more (though I still blush whenever anyone so much as looks at me).
  • I performed a couple times with my mom and sisters.
Most of the time, being so uncomfortable made me all the more aware of my weaknesses. I spent a ridiculous amount of time dwelling on how much I hate going to social functions by myself and how much I dread casually swinging by someone's office to remind them to get their newsletter articles to me. Many of the hopes I harbored were dashed when my brief, adrenaline-filled bouts of discomfort failed to produce any short-term blessings.

But overall, being uncomfortable allowed me to confront my weaknesses and show them that they aren't the boss of me. Asking questions isn't so hard anymore. When people ask for my opinion on something, I can answer them without saying "I don't know about that—ask so-and-so." Others claim to have been blessed by my moments of discomfort, like my home teachers who came over to my apartment at 10:00 p.m. to give me a healing blessing, and the people who listened to me sing with my mom and sisters.

I didn't make this resolution because I wanted to check it off the list and be done with it. I made it because I hope being uncomfortable will become a bigger part of who I am. And I'm not done focusing on this theme—not by a long shot.

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