Filling Your Niche
pushing your comfort zone

Expanding your goldfish bowl

Goldfish, unlike humans, never stop growing physically. They grow until they die. How much they grow is dependent upon the quality of their water, how well they’re cared for, and the size of their bowl.

Yet, while humans are genetically predetermined to stop growing physically at some point, we possess an infinite capacity for inward growth. Like goldfish, how much we grow is dependent upon the quality of our environment. How clean we keep our water. How well we care for ourselves. And the size of our bowl.

Small bowls are cozy. Small bowls create snug little comfort zones. It’s easy to feel good in smaller enclosures. Keeping everything close helps us feel safe. Protected. And small bowls are easier to control. The environment is predictable and unchallenging. You can let your guard down. Your entire world is well-defined.

The problem with small bowls is that predictable and controlled are just a hair away from confining and limiting.

You think you’re swimming around your plastic castle in a happy routine; in reality you’re stuck in a real small bowl with real dirty water. Without warning, the concept of Outside becomes scary in all its unpredictable, uncontrollable hugeness. And your bowl actually grows smaller. Then smaller still.

It happens so gradually it’s easy to miss.

Maybe one day, you wake up. The walls of your goldfish bowl suddenly feel too thick, too close, too covered in greenish slime. That’s when it’s time to seek out larger shores. Push your comfort zone.

I know it’s time for a new bowl by gauging how scared I am to leave my current bowl at any given time. The more anxiety I feel about the unknown, the more critical it is for me to push past the discomfort. And I am always reluctant.

Then reluctance gives way to willing. Not always easily, because change is hard.

What seemed like the big bad Out There becomes just a bigger bowl. A bigger bowl with new scenery and different perspectives. A bowl so big you forget to feel constrained. A bowl so clear you can see for miles.Once you choose expansion, you find that fresh water feels so much better than that murk you were sludging through a minute ago. Comfort becomes less important than growth; freedom feels far less scary than the dread of going back to that small bowl.

And it’s right there.

Maarit • 09/10/2013


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