Saturday, March 11, 2017

Five Times I've Been Out of My Comfort Zone

Comfort zone refers to places, activities and experiences with which individuals are familiar, feel safe, feel at ease and experience minimal stress. As a sometime-actress I am often pushed outside of my comfort zone for acting roles. For the purposes of this list, I'll limit myself to one performance/actress example.

1. Exploring Manhattan by myself on my first trip to New York City



Oh, hey, big city. I'm going to walk around by myself now. No, I'm not sure where I'm going. Everybody be cool, because I couldn't bring my pepper spray on the airplane with me. I haven't found the Duane Reade store yet to buy more pepper spray. No, I do not want to take the subway by myself, but thanks for offering. Exploring the big city on my own while Chad worked was worth it.


2. Snorkeling in Key West



I am not a strong swimmer. Snorkeling in very choppy salt water off the coast of Key West presented a physical and mental challenge. I was a big dork, and used a float-noodle in addition to my buoyancy vest to stay atop the waves. It was a trick to not inhale salt water through the snorkel air tube every time a wave crested near me. I was brave. I stuck with the challenging conditions instead of climbing back onto the safety and comfort of the boat. I was rewarded with the sights of colorful tropical fish and coral reefs. Snorkeling in rough waters was worth it.


3. Performing a true story I wrote for testify ATX

I am accustomed to sharing the stage with other actors, and performing other writer's work. It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done to stand on stage for twelve minutes telling my own tightly scripted story. Getting my story out to an appreciative audience and exorcising the past trauma was worth it.


4. Giving a cat a shot or subcutaneous fluids



Even the sweetest cat can be unpredictable, hissy, scratchy and/or snappy when you stick a needle into it. I had to regularly give insulin shots to a few diabetic cats when I worked for Furry Godmothers as a pet-sitter. I also had to give immunizations to a few of the adoption center cats when I worked for the pet rescue organization. The hardest thing I had to do was administering subcutaneous fluids to cats. I inserted a sturdy hollow needle into the cat's scruff (back of neck area). I had to keep the cat calm and still long enough for hydrating fluids to flow from an IV bag into the cat via the hollow needle. This typically took about two minutes if I was able to subdue the cat and if the needle stayed in place. A four-pound, twenty-three year old cat who I really loved left me with a scar by which to remember her during a particularly contentious round of fluids. Helping those cats was worth it.


5. Working at that high-end men's clothing store downtown



I didn't attend an exclusive preparatory school. I wasn't in a fraternity. I am not a member of a country club. I don't play golf. I am not a man. My personal style skews a bit bohemian, and is not at all in line with traditional, preppy, upscale mens' clothing. I won't lie. I took the job for the fairly predictable work schedule (a real luxury after my last job's punishingly unpredictable schedule) and the pudgy paycheck. (I wouldn't call that paycheck fat, just pudgy.)

Working downtown in the ever-increasing congestion and crowds of Austin also presented challenges. Despite my expensive parking contract, a few times each week, I struggled to find a parking spot to accommodate my compact MINI Cooper. A few times a month I would have to park illegally just long enough to run into the parking garage office and inform them that there wasn't a single spot left in the nine level garage even after going all the way up and down two times. They would usually send me to another parking garage down the street to begin the hunt again with a validated parking pass for that garage. I was late to work many times due to the parking spot scarcity of my oversold parking garage. That parking garage also typically smelled of drug-tainted urine and skunky smoke. The nine-story structure featured two very slow elevators that often were out of order and a triangle-shaped enclosed stairwell with uneven stairs, all the better to trip upon.

Working at that job downtown for just under a year was not worth it.

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