Comfort versus Fit

Previously, I shared my discovery of the “friend audit;” a concept introduced to me by someone who has a broad range of social and professional acquaintances and decided she needed to reassess how much effort she wanted to invest in people who, while perfectly pleasant, didn’t ring her bell.

Such audits can occur multiple times over one’s life because as we change, our needs modify and may even be transformed.  Different people fill different requirements—we all know that there is no One Single Person who can fulfill all our wants and desires. As our interests alter, so should the people who orbit our solar system.

I say none of this with a brusque or uncaring attitude. Rather, I say it out of regard for those individuals who no longer fulfill my prerequisites—or I theirs. The last thing in the world I’d ever want is to unwittingly share the company of someone who would prefer my absence. I don’t need their pity or their guilt or whatever other impetus might serve for a reluctant invitation, and I pay them the same respectful accord. The way I see it, all relationships are like the tide: they have high points and low ones; at times they are closer and at others they pull away, but they’re never fully gone.

Which leads me to my adjunct point for the week. When conducting a friend audit (or a life audit, for that matter), it’s important to ask yourself why you’re spending time doing X or sharing Y’s company. All too often, we find ourselves in situations or with people because they’re familiar—we know the drill—not because they continue to signal who we are, our interests, or partialities. We do it because we’ve always done it. We do it because our family or our peers or society says it’s the Right Thing. We do it because we don’t know what else to do. Whatever “it” is, is familiar—despite the fact that it’s no longer comfortable or enjoyable for us, let alone an accurate reflection of who we, as individuals, currently are.

How many people do you know whose spouse is just like one of their parents–and not in a good way? Hmm? How many? I’ve got three or four examples that spring to mind without even trying. Why do you think they made such a choice—especially, given how much time they’ve complained about that parent in the past? And even if they’re not complaining, what is the first obvious theory that might explain why they chose this particular person with whom to have a relationship? What’s your next theory? Any others?

Of course, not all relationships are like this, nor is it the only way that examples of comfort versus fit arise. It’s a phrase used to sell underwear sure, but it’s an important distinction because as you go about redefining yourself and your life, the idea of relinquishing your grip on previously cherished traditions or ways of thinking is scary, especially when you may not have a sure answer as to what you need in futuro. So the familiar calls to you with that siren song—that comfort, that easy familiarity beckons you to return to its fold. You know the contours—even if it’s a road you’d never choose on your own, at least you know where it leads. That sort of seduction is hard to resist when faced with an alternative of a foggy path that has revealed itself to you only a little…

I ask you to reflect on this for a quiet moment or two—why are you doing what your doing?

So, what is it? Are you going with comfort? Or fit?

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4 Responses to “Comfort versus Fit”

  1. helenga Says:

    Comfort and fit certainly have their place (definitely in the underwear drawer!!), but I’ve heard over and over again that if you want to grow as a person you need to step outside of your comfort zone. Some of the biggest leaps I’ve made in my life were when I took that uncomfortable first step away from the familiar. Thanks for the reminder to constantly examine my life and who and what’s in it.

  2. dignitarysretreat Says:

    Thanks, Helen. Yes, the trying new things and feeling awkward go hand in hand, it seems. I’m just keenly aware these days of how seductive doing what’s familiar–and we somehow translate this into it feeling comfortable–is compared to the awkwardness of trying something that may be a better “fit” for who we are now. I know that there are many instances where what is familiar DOES fit us, and that’s great, too. But, I’ve seen too many examples of people sticking with what’s known and familiar versus what really floats their boat…

  3. Patrick Ross Says:

    I like the concept of the friend audit; I would hope that if friends audited me, though, they didn’t hold me to a particularly high standard!

    It’s important to ask yourself occasionally why the people in your life are really there, and if they “fit.” I suspect Facebook is crimping this, because if you remain tethered to people by social media who, in days past, you would have drifted away from without consequence. It’s harder to slip out of someone’s life now without them noticing by defriending them.

    I’m curious about a family member audit. We can’t choose our family, but we can choose how we interact with them, and that can be more difficult to assess and enact than with friends.

  4. dignitarysretreat Says:

    As always, Patrick, a thoughtful and well expressed perspective! Yes, family audits are far trickier to conduct, but I attest to the fact that they are possible. At particularly trying times, I try to focus on some basic premise about family that I support when I enter into events with relatives I’d just as soon not relate to! 😉

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