To Seek Discomfort

The state of uncomfortability is something most people are afraid of, it often restrains their actions and subsequently limits them from all the possibilities they may take. There are many paths and decisions that people can make; if half of those decisions are cut off prematurely because of a fear of discomfort, we would lose half the opportunities we have. This fear of judgement and failure we create is simply a protective barrier keeping us from the opportunity to grow—I don’t discredit fear, as it is a natural feeling, but I believe taking power over our fear of an uncomfortable situation can be empowering. In order to take full advantage of our options, we must seek discomfort.

Most people are not aware that there is usually nothing to lose from trying something that might appear uncomfortable; the truth is that in most cases one can only gain experience and growth from any failure or presumably uncomfortable situation. It is our own brains that push us to reject things which appear as if they might bring judgement and discomfort, even if we have strong interest and can potentially learn from that opportunity. The fear of judgement from someone is natural and understandable, but this possible judgment towards you trying to better yourself is something we manifest ourselves, in preparation for the worst. While this “judgement” is extremely unlikely to occur, should it occur, it is important that we realize that we only growing when we allow ourselves to experience new areas, take complete advantage of the opportunities presented to us, and fully explore our desires and goals.

Steve Prince, an artist from Louisiana New Orleans, alongside the course following his artwork, has done an excellent job of both presenting us with opportunities to explore discomfort and to see how others have battled their own discomfort. There are two encounters/situations from the term that did good jobs at tackling discomfort: Steve Prince’s final Kitchen Talk lecture, as well as Steve Prince’s experience as an artist, and the dance lecture with Mark Broomfield, a dancer and the Associate Director of the SUNY Geneseo Dance Ensemble. Both the events have given us the opportunity to approach discomfort in a particular form of dance—and Steve Prince generally does an excellent job of discussing discomfort.

Mark Broomfield’s lecture used dance as a method to express the several gender connotations; Broomfield pushed the class to explore “feminine” and “masculine” positions, a result from the use of dance was an excellent discussion on “being comfortable being uncomfortable”, in the words of my classmate Amina Diakite. A subsequent result of the lecture was growth and bond, through the dance moves which at first appeared uncomfortable, because of a fear of judge—participation in the dance by everyone as a unit was great confirmation in the thought that anyone might be judged for expressing themselves, trying to participate in the lecture, and growing from that.

Steve Prince’s Kitchen Talk lecture ended on a group discussion and an open invitation to come up on the stage and dance to the jazz music of New Orleans. Again, the participation by some audience members helped other members of the audience allow themselves to move past the idea of an uncomfortable situation and participate in the dance and discussion. I would also like to briefly comment on the life of an artist, particularly Steve Prince, who shared some of his story with us. Artists, and those who wish to pursue a career in their particular craft are often dealt a hand of discomfort as they strive to pursue their art and maintain a livelihood in an environment where they may not be able to support themselves solely through their art—the tough decision is choosing to take this uncomfortable path in order to push forward on the journey to your desires. I think that Steve Prince, as a successful artist and individual who is familiar with the dilemma in pursuing art as a career, is an excellent individual to talk to us about discomfort and how tackling discomfort can be rewarding.

These two moments of dance were particularly interesting, though some people might have originally felt uncomfortable participating in the dances because of a fear of judgement from others, I believe the people surrounding them was helpful in revealing to them that the judgement did not exist. The support from the people participating alongside them was extremely helping in enabling them and the group as a whole to bypass their discomfort and fully experience each event. The people who surrounded us during the dance at the end of the Steve Prince lecture from April 3rd included: members of the INTD 288 class and Steve Prince, an advocator for discomfort and artist who has certainly had to deal with it in his desire to pursue his art and maintain his livelihood.

In our leap over our own protective barriers, the only thing we lose was nothing; what we gained in these events were the strengthening of our community bonds and experience, which also entails an experience of acceptance and the will to continue to seek discomfort for the things that we enjoy. Every time you tackle your own discomfort, you empower yourself, develop, and grow. We will take this experience forward with us in life and develop further because of it.

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