The Thing About Comfort Zones: Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

“Has anybody here ever been to India?” I asked our team during one of our weekly wrap up calls. “Do any of you want to go?” I ask this question because it’s always interesting to hear the answers. (For our team, it’s a 50/50 split.)

I’ve always thought that India isn’t your typical place to go for a vacation. It’s loud. It smells different. Everything tastes different. It’s so chaotic and packed that all your five senses are kind of on fire. I found myself booking a ticket to go anyway. I wasn’t exactly looking to put my feet in the sand, but I was looking to kind of being uncomfortable.

My decision to go there also spawned at an early age. As a photographer, one of my biggest influences is Steve McCurry — best known for the famous Afghan Girl with the piercing green eyes, which National Geographic has published several times. His favourite place to go to is actually India. He’s been there numerous times and it’s featured heavily in his body of work. 

In my own photography, I rooted myself in portraiture. I thought photographing people was the closest way I could get to understanding them. To me, there’s nothing more intimate than taking someone’s photo. I, for one, feel incredibly vulnerable in front of a camera so I feel it’s my duty to bring out the best in people through my photos.

When I was in India, it was difficult not being able to communicate with the people I was shooting. How do you gain their trust in such a short period of time without speaking their language? I was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was incredibly challenging; but come to think of it, speaking the same language sometimes doesn’t necessarily get your message across anyway.

Everyone communicates differently. Sometimes, you need to show what you mean. Other times, you really have to spend a little bit more time to establish a relationship and build rapport in order to be understood. That’s how you get the job done. 

Going out of my comfort zone — not just mentally, but also physically — has given me a broader perspective about communication in general.

As I transitioned my work from my photography to our social media agency, this helped me a lot in navigating the work we do and why we do it. We often think of social media being reserved for specific industries or having a specific vibe when, in fact, it is only a matter of finding the right way to communicate on these platforms that is the key.

I wish I could say something more profound, but the truth is there’s no secret recipe to “the perfect social media campaign.” Every client is different and every campaign is your chance to communicate authentically whether your audience speaks the same language or not.

When you find yourself out of your comfort zone, as I did during my trip to India, take the time to marinate in the unfamiliar. There’s no innovative way to get past it. If there’s something you don’t understand, perhaps when dealing with a new client in a new industry, all you need is to take a step back and spend a little more time on it.

At If & When, our goal is to showcase your brand effectively through compelling stories and captivating imagery. We work with clients in different industries and engage with diverse audiences across current digital and social platforms.

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