We’ve most likely all been in a situation where we’ve been way too hot, to the point of being insanely uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that we can’t believe we’ve ever said we were once “too cold.” So uncomfortable that we would do anything to dive head first into a freezing pool. But sometimes, the pool might not be right there for us to dive into. Sometimes, we have to figure out a way to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Especially if a way out is not in our nearby reach.
That’s what this following post is about. How to be comfortable in those uncomfortable situations. The kind of situations where you would rather be doing anything other than what you’re dealing with in that given moment. Trust me, I’ve been there, too. And not even too long ago. Today, I’m going to tell you a story about my own journey with being uncomfortable and how I was able to find peace in the midst of the storm. Hopefully, it can ignite hope in you… to find comfort in the middle of your storm because I promise it is possible and absolutely within reach.
Three years ago, I started my freshmen year of college. On my Survival Guide to Freshmen Year post, I talk a little bit about how I was so scared about making the change. Because you know that 45-minute drive is sooooo hard, right?! But in all seriousness, it was a big change. At least for me, it was.
Back home, I was used to everyone knowing who I was. I was involved in anything I could get my hands on, and I craved that attention of “being known.” My entire high school career was anything but uncomfortable. I was probably too comfortable for my own good. I had the same group of best friends since middle school. It was a guarantee that I would be on the tennis team. If I’m being completely honest, there was never a moment where I thought I would lose that student council election.
I know. It sounds bad. But I’m all about honesty, and that’s what I’m giving you. I’m trying to simply make a point that besides losing the occasional tennis match or not having the guy I liked like me back, I wasn’t living in uncomfortableness. Until I went to college. That’s when life hit me like a ton of bricks. Not even a ton. Think of anything that’s more than “a ton” and that’s what hit me.
I had the choice to go to a college where a lot of my high school friends were going. Clemson University. It’s actually the place I had planned on going my entire life. But then God had other plans for me and gave me a change of heart. It ended up being for the absolute best, but I didn’t know it at the time. Especially when I was having to attempt to be comfortable in a situation that was anything but comfortable.
When you go to college, you have to start over. You have to “rebrand” yourself and start from scratch. I went to a college where no one knew who I was, and gosh darn it, I was determined to make a name for myself there!! But I didn’t know how hard it would be. Everything came so easily to me in high school. But in college, I had to learn how to handle rejection. “You mean this club actually didn’t want me in it? Is this what a rejection letter looks like? How dare they? I’m Emma Reaney for crying out loud! Do they not know who I am?” Well, girl, no they didn’t.
I began to doubt my self worth and wonder if I was “good enough” for the college I was at. “Maybe I should’ve gone to my second choice,” I thought. “Maybe I made the wrong decision. Surely, I’m not supposed to be this uncomfortable during my freshmen year.” My dignity was butt hurt that things weren’t coming so easily to me as they did in high school. Oh, after three weeks of college, I was so homesick (because I don’t deal with change very well) that I was convinced I made the wrong decision.
I literally had only been at Wofford for three weeks, and I was ready to bolt out of there because I was so clueless as to how to function. I thought there was no way this was where God wanted me. No freaking way. I was so uncomfortable, and I wanted a way out. God made a mistake sending me here. I wasn’t thriving like I expected. Everyone seemed to have it all together but me. Of course, there were probably people thinking the same thing about me. Funny how that works, right? If you looked at my social media, I looked as if I was living my best life. But I was hurting in private, and I didn’t want anyone to know it.
I remember, when my mom came up for Parents Weekend, I told her in the Publix parking lot at 10 pm that night that I was going to transfer. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed some more. And there was a hot second where I thought I was about to throw up that burrito bowl from Willy Taco I had eaten thirty minutes before. I begged for her to tell me that I could transfer.
But that’s not how the Reaney family rolls. We don’t run away from our problems when they get uncomfortable. We face them head-on, and whether I liked it or not, I was going to have to fake it till I made it. I had to make college feel like home. Somehow, I was going to have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
I had to make new friends. Wait. How do I do that? I’ve had the same friends for the past six years. I know their favorite foods, what ticks them off. I even know what their sixth-grade code names were for their crushes. I know everything about them. How the heck was I supposed to build that kind of friendship with these college people? It took a while. I’m not gonna lie. It was hard finding “my people,” but with time, I did.
I had to be open-minded. My high school friends weren’t at college with me to be my “fallbacks.” There was no “comfort zone” for me to go hide out at. I had to go the extra mile. Invite myself to places. Work at making new friends. I could choose to sit there and wish a group of super cool friends would magically appear before me, or I could build a bridge over my self-pity and get over it.
I needed to acknowledge the situation for what it was. Yes, I was uncomfortable that I wasn’t surrounded by “familiar friends,” but life isn’t meant to be lived by staying close to what’s familiar. I had to take a chance and learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
It took a while to establish friendships, and it took many lunches at Burwell Dining Hall and late-night study sessions in the library. But now, it’s completely, totally, and utterly comfortable, and I think I win the jackpot for having the best college friends imaginable.
It actually wasn’t until after rush in February of freshmen year that I became truly “comfortable” in college. Joining a sorority changed my life and gave me that sense of belonging that I had been so desperately wanting. I know that sounds cliché and “roll your eyes” worthy, but it’s true. It’s another story for another time. Until this happened, though, I had to wake up every morning and, as Rachel Hollis from Girl, Wash Your Face says, “not believe the lies.”
The lies I was telling myself were “I wasn’t meant for this” and “I’m not going to make it.” I didn’t think I was up to the challenge of moving to a new place with new friends and new surroundings. I was ready to toss in the towel. I really was. But THANK THE LORD JESUS FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW that I didn’t. And I hope you don’t either.
I’m telling you all this in hopes of inspiring you to find comfortableness in that icky sticky uncomfortable mess. Whatever uncomfortableness you are going through right now, don’t give in to the devil’s lies that are telling you to give up. Life is meant to be uncomfortable sometimes. If it was always comfortable, we wouldn’t need Jesus. True comfort is when we lean on Jesus for strength rather than ourselves. Trials are meant to help us grow, not for us to shrivel up in defeat.
I actually grew in my faith during the first semester of college rather than turning my back on God in frustration. Every morning before I went to class, I clung to God’s Word in the hopes that He would change my heart and mindset to get through the next day. And He did.
We have to realize that some circumstances are just outside of our control, and the only thing we can really do is pray for the strength to keep on trucking along. We have to keep on telling ourselves that we CAN be comfortable. We can get through the hard thing. And sooner or later, we won’t have to continually tell ourselves anymore. We’ll simply live it out. And it’s only through Jesus that true comfort can be found.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on emmaclae.wordpress.com
Featured Image by Wladislaw Peljuchno