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Getting Out of Comfort Zones

by Aimee Fritsch, Twin Cities ’14
University of Oregon’14
Direct Service Associate, Listening House of St. Paul Inc.

This week was a catalyst for reflection. I hadn’t realized just how much doing the same thing day after day creates a comfort zone until one little incident made me think. My roommate rode the bus with me to work.

Usually, I commute on my own, but since she had a training in downtown St. Paul, we took the same two busses. On the second bus, I tried sitting somewhere with more room for two people, and it felt wrong. You see, I have a spot. On every other bus ride, it doesn’t really matter to me, but on the 94 in the mornings headed to St. Paul, I have a spot. I sit in the last sideway seat, closest to the middle of the bus, on the left side. Every day. In the rare occasions when that seat is taken, I sit in the first seat, also on the left side.

So when I sat on the right side instead, it felt wrong. So wrong that I moved seats to sit in “my spot.” I laughed at myself, but I did it. And the world felt right again.

It makes me pause and think about the little ways I carve out a comfort zone: having my coffee every morning, having my spot on the bus, making the staff/volunteer board at work every morning, wearing my favorite shirt when I need an extra boost. It’s been on my mind especially since work this week called for me to come out of my comfort zone.

Early in the week, I learned what high on meth looks like, as we had a guest who was extremely high and hanging around the desk all day. Then, on Thursday I broke up a drug deal for the first time. Usually, I’ll try and grab another staff member to intervene in something like that, because as much as I know it’s a liability, I still hate conflict. But in this situation, I was the only one that saw it, so I stepped forward to take care of it. It made my heart race, and gave me the shakes, but I did it. And while I disliked every minute of it, I know that I can and will do it again when I need to.

Thursday turned out to be a primer for Friday, when I witnessed my first fight at work. It’s been months since a major incident, but on Friday two guests got into a fist fight out on the sidewalk in front of Listening House. Our policy as staff is to never go into a situation like that without backup, and I was the backup for another staff member as we tried to deescalate the situation, and then called the police when that was not going to happen and they began hitting each other. I was safe the whole time, but it still made my heart race during the situation. Especially since I knew one of the guests, to see him getting hit and blood flowing onto the sidewalk. It was a bad situation, and one I hope we don’t have again for a long time.

So after this week, I went back to my comfort zone. I slept for 12 hours last night, and took time to write letters in the late fall sunshine. Since I work this upcoming weekend, I’m going to use my Thursday and Friday off to practice self-care, including finding a Pumpkin Cheesecake Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

It is a balance, between drawing strength from what makes one comfortable, and then using that strength to grow and make a difference. My prayer for myself and for us all is that we continue to find that balance, taking care of ourselves along with growing and giving of ourselves.