Out of the zone

How often do we get stuck in a rut? We get into our routines and just plow through, day by day, continuing on with the status quo. Life gets comfortable, habits get familiar, and the way we navigate our days can become all too cozy. Why is this a bad thing? Well, it’s not truly bad. What can be negative is the side effect of this. 

When we get too comfortable we might hesitate at new opportunities, balk at something out of our comfort zone, or decline an experience that would otherwise have challenged us or revealed something new about ourselves. Ultimately, sometimes our routine can mean we live in a vacuum. 

Recently, with the changes in my life including a new job and a new living situation, I’m constantly striving to find the balance between creating routine (you know, so I have meals cooked each week and clean clothes to wear) and finding things to disrupt that routine. Sure I may have an idea of what I want my after-work hours to look like, but if an invitation comes along to meet up with friends or I hear of something happening at a local spot that could be fun to check out, if I’m unwilling bend on this routine I’ve created then my life is going to look very structured.

Again, is there anything inherently wrong with structure? Not that I can tell. In fact, I used to live by it. During my high school and college years I practically lived by a planner. Nearly every part of my day was written down or doodled about and if something wasn’t written down and somehow managed to happen, well, I probably wrote it in my planner after the fact. And because of this, I was incredibly organized, always knew where I needed to be next, and was able to manage my time efficiently. 

However, what it meant for my post-college years until now is a different lesson entirely. When I graduated college and began working, my life took on a drastically less-structured persona. I didn’t have the added routine of schoolwork and enjoyed a life that was unrestricted by the time line of degree completion — until I decided to embark on my graduate program. It’s funny how going from my undergrad experience, to a work/life experience, back to an academic environment forces you to consider the patterns you create for yourself and the breaks in those patterns you allow. Graduate school forced me to finally learn how to balance my academic career with my social relationships so that I was able to continue to challenge myself and grow outside of the classroom.

My point here is that we often view ourselves within structures. Who am I as an employee? Did I do my job today? Did I complete the tasks I put forth for myself? Did I check my email enough, respond fast enough? Who am I as a tenant? Did I take the garbage out? Did I bring the garbage in? Did I close my windows because it’s supposed to rain today? And finally, who am I as a Catholic? Did I go to Mass this week? Did I say my prayers? How am I doing with the Commandments? Was I kind, forgiving, loving?

My challenge to you is this: Think outside of the structure and break from your routine. Find ways to disrupt your day-to-day habits, be it at work, in your relationships, and in your faith. If we do the same things over and over again, we stagnate. We long for a challenge, for change, for an opportunity to grow. What does challenge, change, or growth look like in your faith life? What does breaking from your routine so you can encounter Christ in a new and illuminating way look like? What will break you from your routine? Who will give you new perspective? I don’t have an answer for that, but you do. Happy searching, everyone.

Anchor columnist Renee Bernier can be reached at reneebernier17@gmail.com.

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