Yesterday, my therapist and I talked about the need for me to get outside of my bubble more often. It should be noted that while I like the idea, at least in theory, the mere phrase triggers twinges of anxiety within me in practice. I am so reluctant to try new things unless someone else takes the lead. I am reluctant to even go to a new restaurant for fear I won’t know their menu or for fear I won’t be able to find anything I like. Even when I do go to a new restaurant, chances are I just end up ordering the mac and cheese, a fact that has led some of my close friends and family to gently mock me. But the real joke of it is that I missing all the flavor life has to offer because of the mac and cheese.
There is, of course, something to be said about knowing what you like. Yet there is a point where knowing what you like helps you grow, and there is a point where it just holds you back. Whether it is mac and cheese, or pursuing a new professional opportunity, or whatever, growth only happens with risk. If I just stay with the safety of what I know, then I will never grow. And when it comes to my battle with mental illness, that means I will never heal.
Ironically, the first thing I did after having this conversation with my therapist was to go order mac and cheese for dinner. In my defense, my therapist did say to start small, and one of the local restaurants I frequent was having their make your own mac and cheese night. What was I supposed to do?
All joking aside, this conversation doesn’t mean I can never have mac and cheese or indulge in the things I know I like. Going outside your bubble doesn’t mean staying outside your bubble. You can always come back to that comfort and that comfort alone should be sufficient encouragement when exploring the unfamiliar.
I have invested a considerable amount of time and energy on my recovery. Yet at a certain point, my therapist and my medication and my meditation and all of it can only do so much. I have to take that next step, a step outside my comfort zone. Chances are I will be fine, but if it ever gets to be too much I can always retreat to the familiar so that I can recharge. But if I never take that step, I will never grow, and will never know the flavors beyond mac and cheese.
So maybe next time, I order Chinese.