Soapbox Warrior 1: Discomfort

Transcript: Soapbox Warrior 1: Discomfort

Everyone has got something to say, but often we don’t take the opportunities that are afforded to us by living in this great country called Australia. In Australia our Human Rights Commission states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media ( including oral presentation in a town centre)and regardless of frontiers. These concepts are the foundation stone for a free and democratic society.

I’m not really here to talk to you about that, though, I just wanted to get it clear from the get-go that I’m allowed to come here and bang on about stuff that is important to me. I can come here and make a dickhead out of myself and I can carry on like I’m in charge of shit, and that I’ve got all the answers cos I’m the best human who’s ever lived….but really I’m none of that and I really don’t know much in the grand scheme of things. I’m just an everyday person like any of you…well, mostly like you. I’m a person who totally believes in the transformative power of being uncomfortable.

I’m uncomfortable now. Are you?

I’m going to stay uncomfortable for the entire time I’m here talking to you and I reckon I’ll squirm about the way this whole thing went down for hours and probably days after I stop doing it. The burn from this is going to last a lot longer than any burn I get from pushing myself past the wall when I’m working out. If this goes the wrong way, the burn could last forever because nowadays there’s this cool thing called the internet where your transgressions are immoralised for the entire world to see FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Uncomfortable much? Yeah.

Anyway, so I wanted to talk about how you can make your life amazing by making your life uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that you have to be uncomfortable all day everyday to get anywhere, it means that to get ahead, be it financially, physically, emotionally, you are going to come up against pain and discomfort. And guess what, there are no magic pills. None. To get ahead, you have to embrace the burn and be ready to get down with being uncomfortable.

I’m very uncomfortable with rejection and I’m betting pretty much everyone is the same. That’s why I’m here. By embracing discomfort in this very public way I get to see what’s on the other side of the discomfort. I didn’t know what would happen when I got here today and that’s pretty scary. People could yell at me, call me an idiot or worse still, laugh at me, but at the end of the day, what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? Yeah, I could get run over by some angry mobster, but how likely is that, especially when the cop shop is just down the road? That’s what’s great about living here. Anyone can come to the centre of their town and talk smack and not be burned at the stake for doing it. What a bloody great country we live in hey?

Being uncomfortable has allowed me to have an amazing life where I can achieve things I never thought possible. I was uncomfortable with the idea that I could hike alone for 375km carrying a 22kg pack. I didn’t know if I could do it. Everyone kept telling me , YOU CAN’T. I was uncomfortable with that. It made me mad because how could anyone know if I COULD? I realized that the can’ts that people were heaping on me were their own can’ts. They were about what they couldn’t do themselves, not about what I could do. They were uncomfortable with my desire to do this crazy thing on my own and because they were uncomfortable they told me YOU CAN’T.

I was physically very uncomfortable on that hike. My shoes ate into my feet and after the 3rd day every step I took felt like I was stepping into a bucket of boiling water. The pack weighed what felt like a metric freak-tonne and after the worst day on the whole hike I lost my tea bags. There was nowhere to turn to alleviate the discomfort I felt. The only choice I had was to press on: one foot after the other.

It took me 28 days to walk almost 400km and it changed my entire life. I went from wondering whether I could do a thing that I dreamed, to knowing I definitely could. That hike was a cornerstone experience in my life and not because it made my life comfortable, but quite the opposite; since then I seek these uncomfortable experiences to see where they can take me. I don’t know where I’ll end up because there’s no way to plan for an outcome when you seek discomfort. That in itself adds its own edge of discomfort.

Have a hard conversation with someone. Tell them that their words are hurtful not helpful. Stand up for yourself and your beliefs. Be honest. Be brave. Commit to a new path by creating courage out of thin air. Be bold. Be true to yourself and allow yourself the life that awaits you. Be afraid, but do it anyway. Be engaged, listen and learn from others and the world around you. Let discomfort be your teacher.

Act now because you regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do do.

My name is Jennifer Parry and I’m the Soapbox Warrior.