Cocoons and Comfort Zones


Butterfly and Flowers

Butterfly and Flowers


I think the issue with the “authentic self” and finding it is that life teaches us how to lose it at a very young age, to shy away from ourselves and run toward standards and expectations.  __Farah Lawal

Yesterday, I said clearly and without hesitation, “I am a very good writer.” And immediately thought, “depending on the moment, whom I might be with, and whether or not my hair is combed, teeth brushed, how I am dressed (was in my jammies at the time, talking on the phone), what I did or didn’t have for dinner,”  and one hundred other things I won’t mention. It all flashed before my eyes in a second and no, I didn’t die. But, some small tiny aspect of my person wouldn’t have been at all surprised if I had been promptly struck down by lightening.

None of those thoughts, images, or crossed-fingers flinch, came across in my words. It was just a calm cool statement of fact and accepted as such. So, when did all of that happen? Not talking about the statement in time, but the ability to simply say it. And the answer is that I really don’t know. I think its been building and accumulating for some time now, more than likely for years.

The reason none of those inner qualms were apparent was because I actually believe the statement myself. I am a very good writer. So why all the little whispers and flinches in the background, the white noise of my existence?  Habit, just plain habit, and hedging my bets, I assume. But, also the reality of this blog and many things I have already done and accomplished in the past.

Farah’s quote, which was left as a comment here a couple of days ago, is a big part of the mixed bag of inner responses I had last night. A while back, I wrote about the blanket of the socialization process we all, in some form or another, live beneath and also grow up being programmed to. In my neck of the woods, it was perfectly acceptable to learn how to write, it is a necessary skill in later years, if for no other reason than to sign checks and make out grocery lists.

My parents read the newspaper everyday, and although my father could sometimes be found reading a volume of the encyclopedia, recreational reading was not so much frowned upon, as silently ruled to be something one did only on one’s own time and never at the expense of duty, chores, or visitors. In other words, it was considered to be a very private pass-time and one that wasn’t encouraged as a topic of daily conversation. Likewise, writing was something other people, say from another galaxy, might engage in, but it certainly wasn’t for ‘us’.

It doesn’t make any difference how many years I may personally have spent learning these skills and the craft itself, I still carry that message deep inside the very fiber of my being. And I always will. It was woven into the cocoon of my early years, and was enduring enough to become an essential part of the comfort zone I created when I became an adult. I sometimes think it is absolutely amazing that I do this thing at all, given my background. Furthermore, I don’t for one minute, think my experience is rare. As a matter of fact, I think it is as common as dirt.

The cocoon stage of a butterfly’s development process is also called the chrysalis stage. I like that word better. It sounds like a hard substance, and a lot like the word crystal. The cocoon of the socialization process is as important to we humans, as the chrysalis is to the butterfly. It creates both a shelter and a nurture that is absolutely necessary to gaining maturity. But, it too often, as in my case, becomes part and parcel of the comfort zones we create in that mature state.

I have often wondered how many butterflies never make it out of that cocoon. Judging and comparing from the human aspect, probably a great many of them never do. It takes really hard, deliberate and dedicated work to do so. And I would think, all things being somewhat unequal, that some percentage of the butterfly population never emerges into full sunlight. I would also wager to guess that a percentage of human beings never make it out of their comfort zone either. I know several.

Our comfort zone is a lot like an invisible, transparent glass wall that completely surrounds our life and activities. When we accidentally bump up against that wall, we are repelled backward, sometimes rubbing our noses from the hard contact. Anything new, or different, is that wall. People, bits of conversation, behavior that is unfamiliar make us feel uncomfortable and we have a tendency to move away from that discomfort. And we learn something from the experience of bumping noses with that wall. We immediately know that we won’t go back to that place and get whacked again. At least many, if not most of us, have some form of that response.

But, what if I told you that glass wall is created from natural and organic materials, meant to expand to compensate for a life-long growth process? Because I am a terribly curious creature (with a streak of the rebel, as well), I have a tendency to rub my nose with one hand, then put my other hand up to feel the texture of what I’ve just walked into. And that part of me is also natural and organic material. It, like the comfort zone I created, is a learned experience, thus able to be unlearned, or changed if I so choose.

That choice is yours as well. You may, or may not, have any deep desire to one day say, “I am a very good writer,” but, I’m willing to bet that there is at least one thing you would like to feel the texture of, get to know a wee bit better, and maybe even learn how to flutter and fly around, exploring, tasting, and sniffing at what is there. Push against those glass walls, let yourself find how expandable they really are.

An excellent way to do just that is to write about it. That way, you can satisfy your curiosity, find out how you feel about it, list all the excuses you can come up with as to why it’s a bad idea, and a few of the reasons why it might not be. Furthermore, you can do all of that while sitting smack dab in the middle of your own comfort zone, maybe even in your most comfortable set of jammies.


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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8 Responses to Cocoons and Comfort Zones

  1. diddums says:

    The other day I was thinking how I might have been more confident in a smaller community to say “I’m good at such-and-such,” but when you have the internet and can get out to see what others achieve, and see so many better than yourself in these areas, it becomes harder to say to anyone “I’m good at these”. But being able to compare ourselves with the best doesn’t mean we’re not good in our way and our group… and being able to see what others do may give inspiration. I won’t say it pushes us to do better, because we naturally try to do that anyway. What it might do is cause us to give up, especially when we know everyone else can make these direct and immediate comparisons as well.


  2. diddums says:

    Your blog post got me thinking, as always. 🙂


  3. 1sojournal says:

    Diddums, comparison of any sort is poison to the creative soul. We can admire what others do, but if we then hold up our own stuff and compare, we will always find our stuff lacking for one reason or another. There are many reasons for that. Comparing ourselves, what we do, to anyone else, is like comparing apples to oranges. You, I, and every single other, are unique individuals who see, sense, whatever is in our path through our own unique filter of experience. It won’t and can’t be like anyone else’s and thank goodness for that. We each have a message to bring to the world, and it would be incredibly dull if all the messages were the same.

    We are our own worse judges. We completely miss the mark of our own uniqueness because it is all together far too familiar, therefore lacking in the uniqueness we find in others. Suffice to say, we totally miss seeing our own “signature stroke”. And bless you because I think you just gave me the topic for tomorrow’s blog.

    I see your signature stroke and I believe you recognize mine. Maybe, that bit of discernment is sufficient in this moment,



  4. diddums says:

    That’s an interesting term, ‘signature strokes’… I remember someone saying once that what he grows to like in a blog is the ‘voice’.

    There’s a sense, I think, in which the internet is seen as a ‘finished publication’ and there might be a low tolerance (from some, not all) for those who are still learning or finding their way. It would depend a lot on where we are posting, but even then, anything of lower quality is seen as clutter rather than as a continuing progression, and some might seek to discourage it.

    Interesting topic, thanks. 🙂


  5. 1sojournal says:

    And in writing that is the proper term, “Voice.” I like the signature strokes because it is a wonderful metaphor for Voice. Developing a Voice can be easily misinterpreted at times.

    And yes, you are correct about the Internet attitude. I spend some time on another blog that challenges writers, but especially poets. And some of what is posted there isn’t poetry. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be understood and responded to, and I take the time to do just that. I am about encouraging others to do this thing, no matter if its here or elsewhere.

    But, on the same token, when I am doing some sort of serious research on any given topic, and I come across blatant misspellings and grammatical errors that are repeated over and over again, I value the information much less than if those things weren’t in attendance. An occasional error is to be understood, but repeated often enough speaks to other issues. That may be a personal bias, and I am always attempting to adjust those, but sloppy writing can also be just a bad habit and a certain disregard of ones own person and abilities.

    I care enough to reread my own writing several times. If I miss something and find it after I post, I immediately go back and edit it. I’m fairly certain you do the same thing. That speaks of caring, not of being a beginner or somewhere else on the learning scale. Going back and editing is a definite part of the learning process, and an important one as well.



  6. diddums says:

    That’s an excellent guess of yours, which made me smile; I’m always going back to change a spelling, typo or other kind of error! I don’t usually reread my older posts, though when something draws my attention back, I might make changes to them as well… or ‘vanish’ them altogether.

    It’s curious how differently you can view something you wrote yourself after a little time has gone by. Sometimes I remember enough to read between the lines… remembering the things I didn’t talk about, or the way I felt (even if I wasn’t acknowledging it). You can learn a lot about yourself by going back, which is probably why I feel a disinclination to do that. 🙂

    I agree, persistent sloppiness (which isn’t anything more) can be exasperating! But maybe one day those writers will come across their own words and think, “wait a minute…”


  7. Pingback: On Kindness and Competition « Aw Diddums

  8. 1sojournal says:

    Diddums, thanks for the mention on your blog. And yes, it is enlightening to go back and reread the things I wrote even a few months ago. I learn a great deal from that particular exercise and even find new slants and tangents I overlooked the first time around. I’ve been writing for so many years that it no longer upsets me to find the errors and I figure I too deserve the benefit of the doubt I so often give to others.

    I recently did just that because of a challenge I found on another blog and was very pleasantly surprised to find a quite even tone, and a somewhat discernable style emerging from all of those words. I personally think that is an exercise worth doing. Not often, but just enough to stay on top of all of it.



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