One channel I absolutely love on YouTube is Yes Theory. Yes Theory is a YouTube channel chronicling the adventures of a team of friends as they go out of their comfort zone. They have slept on the world’s most dangerous bed, have been left in a new country with no money, have travelled on the world’s most dangerous road, and done some really incredible stuff that’s left me in awe. Every time I watch their videos, I marvel at their willingness to dare, sometimes despite their fears, and I wonder if I will ever acquire the same audacity.
Truth is, I hate discomfort. Even my middle name, Comfort, portends a life of ease for me; freedom from the hardships and distresses of life. Accordingly, I do not go out of my way to seek discomfort. But watching the boys as I have done obsessively since I discovered their channel, I have found myself contemplating the words of Deborah Copaken in her commentary about her essay for Modern Love, ‘When Cupid is a Prying Journalist’, Deborah talked about ‘the unlived life’, and it struck me profoundly that if I were to die today, it would be with regret at my unlived life.
Of course, I am very much alive; I have a job I am quite excited about, a family I love, and a curiosity that continues to excite me when sated. Yet, I cannot shake off that feeling of a life still unexplored, relationships unformed, displeasures unvoiced, kisses not stolen, mistakes unmade, adventures not had, risks not taken, and I fear that as I enter the last years of my 20s, my youth is going by without any of the recklessness of youth.
Some may say there’s still a lot of youth ahead of me, after all, it’s not like I’m 80. That’s true, but I am often reminded of the standards to which I am held ‘as an adult’. As such, I can no longer afford certain recklessness. Even then, the image of a regretful person on my deathbed leaves me anxious because that is precisely who I do not want to be as I bid the world adieu.
Watching Yes Theory videos, I was challenged to upset the balance in my own life. My life had become painfully predictable, and even the weekends which were supposed to lose the monotony of the workweek felt like an extension of the same thing: rinse and repeat. The more aware I became of the dull repetitiveness of my existence, the more the Yes Theory motto of “seek discomfort” became a nagging thought at the back of my mind.
So I did the only thing I could think of: I read any material I could about seeking discomfort, and as a way of testing the murky waters of my discomfort, I joined a Facebook group where, for the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to be vulnerable. During that time, I read one of the most instructive words I’ve ever read from Jesse Itzler: “Every day, do something that makes you uncomfortable.” That one statement turned my longing for audacity into a clear plan of action.
Every day for the next 100 days — 3 of which are gone as at the time of this writing — I will do something that makes me uncomfortable. Something like this – writing something so personal on a public platform. For now, I cannot go on a spontaneous date around the world with a tinder date, nor can I invite a navy seal to live with me for 30 days, but I figure there are little and very realistic things I can do to move out of my comfort zone, just like you can.
Too many times, we stick with our routine because it’s comfortable, easy to retrieve and — maybe most damning — convenient. You want to start eating healthy but because of the extra effort it’ll take to prepare your meals yourself, you retreat to the comforting familiarity of convenience. You have a role you would like to apply for but because you are so intimidated by the requirements of the role, you talk yourself out of applying, sitting instead with the ‘comfort’ of a role you have long outgrown. You have a crush but wouldn’t dare introduce yourself to them, much less tell them how excited you are about them. Yet, every time you see a LinkedIn post about someone who’s just gotten their dream job or a new couple making their relationship IG official, you sigh wistfully, waiting for a tomorrow where you finally have those things.
But what if the things you want are on the other side of your comfort zone? What if trying something new is what it’ll take for you to finally have that thing you’ve always wanted?
What if the answer to your prayer requires more yeses than noes from you? Like saying yes to roles that intimidate you but are well within your competence? Like saying yes to more owambes or get-togethers? Like making your private social media page a public one?
In one of the videos I watched, Thomas Brag, one of Yes Theory founders, said that “If we let our fears choose the experiences we get to have, most of the impactful and memorable moments of our lives will remain unlived.” I can only hope that you will let something stronger than fear (or convenience) choose your daily experiences.
So, this article is for all comfort seekers. Don’t risk the pangs of regret at your unlived life on your deathbed. Move out of your comfort zone. I promise I will too.
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