BARRETT: Comfortable discomfort



Tom Barrett

I love going home, and I hate going home. I love pulling up to my house and seeing my sisters and my dog run to the front door to give me a warm welcome. I love my Mom’s cooking and chatting with my Dad on the front porch. I get to go to bed on my favorite couch as I watch movies every night.

I get to hang out with my buddies who have known me for as long as I’ve known myself and reminisce about memories of past nights together as we make new ones. I know where everything is. I know where every street will take me. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s safe.

But part of me hates going home. Part of me despises that comfortable familiarity. Little ever seems to change, and the two most exciting things to do always seem to be going to the movies or drinking.

While I love being with the ones I love in the place I know best, I know that I can only grow so much being there. Part of me cannot help but fear that I’ll always be stuck there – that I’ll never move beyond that small sphere of existence.

However, my mixed feelings about home stem from a fundamental aspect of being human. We are all constantly torn. On the one hand, we strive for comfort and security. The desire to survive is perhaps the most basic of our instincts, and we know that we can survive with what we already know.

In this simple calculation, taking a leap into unfamiliar waters is much less safe than sticking to what has kept us alive thus far. On the other hand, we desire to go leaps and bounds beyond our seeming limitations. We shed the survival mindset as we look to the skies and yearn to touch the stars.

We know that while there is less security in such thinking, there is so much potential for growth. We are deeply intrigued by the infinite possibilities that our presence in this world holds. This is why our ancestors have done things like sail across oceans with no guarantee of success or survival. If the desire to prolong our existence were our only motivation, these actions would make absolutely no sense. This need to live for something beyond surviving is uniquely human.

We all enjoy being comfortable. It satisfies some deep animalistic urge in us not to have to worry about surviving. We naturally fall into patterns that we know will work for us on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes our lives become too repetitive. We become frustrated with the status quo, but we fear the uncertainty that change may bring.

We must never forget that the desire to go beyond ourselves into uncharted territory is as much a part of being human as seeking the comfort and solace of sitting in our living room. We must remember that real growth only occurs when we push ourselves to go outside our comfort zones.

It is in these unfamiliar situations that we are forced to dig deep and find out what we are truly made of. The secret is to look at the bigger picture – the potential that can be realized in each one of us – and to take comfort in this discomfort. Yes, doing so is scary, and no, it is almost never easy. Ultimately, however, it is always worth it.


Tom Barrett is a senior philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].