Gumption and Fingernail Clippers

Approaching the end of my comfort zone is like approaching a 10-foot, prison-grade barbed wire fence with fingernail clippers. Not toenail clippers, fingernail clippers. Run a 5k? Teach a creative writing class? Teach an art class? Get a job? Go to a rigorous liberal arts school? Sell a short story? Ha. I’ll just go trim my nails, thanks.

When I first began recovery, my comfort zone was as spacious as a hamster cage. Walking downstairs was a challenge. Just eating dinner with my family every night exhausted me to the point of isolation. I was scared of everything. And I was so, so tired, both physically and emotionally.

I remember when an adventure was a choice to go to the store. Smells, people, food, I braved them all. I was proud, and I deserved it. I remember when wearing shorts was a magnificent joust with bulimia. When writing a short story left me trembling and pale. When calling a friend left my heart pounding and my emotions reeling. But clip by clip through the barbed wire, I reclaimed my gumption.

This summer I accomplished all of that scary list, from the 5k to putting down my deposit at New Saint Andrews College. I am no longer exhausted, my body and soul are healing. Curiosity sweetens my lips. I am filled with joyfear for the future.

Clip by clip by clip, I’ve sprung the fence of my comfort zone. Now I’m walking into the open field, vulnerable and irrepressible. I kick off my shoes, breathe the perfume of dandelions, and blow a thousand terrifying wishes.


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