When Things Feel Uncomfortable or A Shock of Cold Water in Your Thirties

Yesterday I was at the beach for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day and the sun and sand were both feeling glorious on my skin.

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My friend Zach and I went to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn for the day. Zach loves both swimming and cold water so one of the first things he wanted to do was go into the ocean. At first I didn’t want to follow him- I’ve been to this beach before but hate cold water and am not a big city ocean swimmer. And the New York City waters are not known for their tropical climates.

But I decided to at least put my feet in and followed Zach into the surf. Right away, the frigid cold stung my feet, and I didn’t go any further. “It’s freezing!!!” I screamed, but he assured me that I’d get used to it. I didn’t believe him, but I wanted to continue our previous conversation, so I stayed with my feet in the water. Before long, the water felt body temperature and then downright warm on my feet. I was sure I had teleported to Miami. Soon I was stomach deep in the water and happily frolicking around.

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Now, I’m convinced the water was two different temperatures from the start to the finish. How did something so unbearable transform into something so great? And I’m thinking this happens in life all the time.. when you’re at the beginning of something new, even a new feeling, it can sting and feel completely uncomfortable, even intolerable. So you leave before you experience a change.

But sometimes the gentle reassurance of a friend or a family member invites us to stick with something that at first feels unwelcome or too hard. Occasionally the distraction of good company can take us away from our old habits enough to welcome change. How many times have we instinctually run from something that might have turned out to be lovely?

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