David Erik

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Leaving the Comfort Zone

Due to our poor Polish language skills, we had understood approximately zero percent of what the tall serious-faced man with military uniform just had told us. However, the guy beside him held a huge electric machine that looked like some kind of card checker, so we figured this could be a good time to smile and show some passports. While the RFID chips in our passports cleared through the computer, I was trying to look around for some departure signs. Complete darkness is somehow even darker when you are at a train station in Szczecin, Poland in the middle of the night. Especially when you have seven minutes to find your night train connection to Krakow and no one understands what you are saying.

Around six minutes later, when we enter what we at least think is our compartment, we figure out that our five co-travelers for the night is a grandma with her four grandkids, who spend most of the night laughing and playing with a digital camera. The anxiety dropped quickly. But why did I even get nervous in the first place? The world is not necessarily dangerous.


Stupid comfort zone.


At one time, we were sitting in Rijeka, Croatia, hiding from pouring rain, storm and lightning. Suddenly the power went out. Rijeka train station had electrical departure signs, that now did not work. In a few hours, we had planned to leave for Ljubljana, Slovenia, a country where, according to Wikipedia, 9% of its population are alcoholics. There we would wait a few hours, and then take another train to Venice at 2:00, early Sunday morning.

At 7:00, after we’d met some fellow Swedish travelers in Ljubljana and then slept through a five hour trip to Venice, I once again tell myself that I should stop worrying for totally non-existent troubles.


Stupid, stupid comfort zone.


I usually get nervous over the smallest things. This is not always convenient (though a certain amount of anxiety can improve presentations or scene performances, for example). By constantly worrying over things that always turn out well, I spend a lot of time and energy on something totally irrelevant. To reduce this useless energy consumption, I try to put things into perspective.

Lets say I worry about arriving late with a train and thus a bus would leave without me. If this happens in Sweden, sure, it would be mildly annoying. But if it had happened in Moravica, Croatia, I would be stuck in a city I had no knowledge about, with a language I didn’t speak and a currency I didn’t have. A much bigger adventure than getting stuck in Lund, Sweden, sure, but also a slightly better reason to worry. By traveling outside of my comfort zone, I can put ordinary travel into perspective as something not worthy of my worry.

Unnecessary worry will be hard to get rid of. However, by constantly trying to push the limits of my comfort zone, the things I decide to worry about will hopefully be closer to the category of ”Is that pack of tigers about to attack me or not” or likewise.