Aaah… the comfort zone.

You know those, huh?  The familiar places we haunt.  Our homes… the homes of our favourite friends… our favourite coffee shop, restaurant or park… the known spaces we return to again and again.

Why?  Because we know what to expect.  We know that the bagels at Joe’s Corner are consistently yum.  We know we won’t be disappointed with the gnocchi at Desiree’s… we know that there’s safe, convenient parking at the local mall… we know what to order from the menu at our favourite restaurant… we know.

And that’s comforting.

No nasty surprises.  No disappointments.  No wastage of money or time.  No post-experience grumbling about bitter coffee, limp lettuce leaves and how “we should have just bloody-well stuck with Tashas!!”

Except…

… when we remain in our comfortable places, there’s also no opportunity for lovely surprises… and unexpected discoveries… and interesting, enlightening experiences!

Once again, I have been challenged to exit my comfort zone – and this time, the challenge came from a very unexpected source.  The people at Perfect Hideaways – (who helped us discover this gorgeous home-from-home a few weeks ago)… have suggested a little collaboration of sorts.

Since we’re semi-nomadic, often roaming around the country for film shoots and what-not (and since I enjoy blogging)… maybe I could do some writing for their blog too – introducing their international guests to places and experiences – beyond the same-old-malls, same-old-tourist-haunts, same-old-same-old…

Of course – I said:  “Yes!  I’d love to!”…

And then (as I do)… I ruminated endlessly about whether I was ‘qualified’ enough… and ‘real-writer’ enough… and felt all guilty for charging them money to do something that I essentially enjoy doing… y’know – the usual stupid enough’ness arguments I have with my own brain.  And in the midst of all of this ruminating, the Perfect Hideaways peeps sent me on my first official ‘assignment’ – to cover a launch of an art collaborative in Rosebank … which I duly attended.

A gallery opening.  Lots of creative creatures.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well… needless to say – the experience triggered every insecurity in my “I-don’t-belong-here-because-I’m-not-a-real-artist-and-these-people-will-see-me-for-the-imposter-that-I-am-and-who-the-hell-am-I-kidding-I’m-not-even-a-real-writer-and-all-these-glamorous-people-terrify-me!!” category.  All of my inner critics were screaming blue murder!  All of them.

And so… I fled.

Literally – I fled.  I ran down that wide staircase like a Cinderella, on the verge of being exposed as the lowly, ragged imposter – not a real princess and certainly not belonging at the ball…

Later, I penned a long, miserable e-mail to Helen at Perfect Hideaways, explaining myself, like so:

Voice in Head:  “I’m mortified.  These Rrrrreal-Art-World people are terrifying.  Flee this place!  Fleeeee!  I’m Bapsie-from-Bapsfontein.  What the hell is Bapside-from-Bapsfonteing doing in this gorgeous building with these well-heeled society folk?  I’m a pleb.  I’m a piece of buttered popcorn floating on top of the Dom Perignon!  I’m a bit of bubblegum that snuck in here on the bottom of somebody’s Jimmy Choo.  Any minute now, they’re gonna spit me out.  I’ll be jettisoned from this joint… like an unwelcome mullet at New York Fashion Week…!!!”

Suffice to say, I ended up at Tashas-down-the-road… where I consumed a towering custard slice, two cappuccinos and vomited my insecurities all over my long-suffering husband.  Moral of the story?  Clearly I have some issues to work through!

Anyhoo…

To cut a long story short, it was post-melt-down day that I read this quote:

“Life is short.  Insecurities are a waste of time”.

And it was one of those lightbulb, slap-through-the-face moments… and just like that, I made a decision:

That’s it.  I’m done.  I’m done being Heather the lowly, insecure little worm.  I’m done, done, done. 

And – since that moment… which happened last weekend… I have felt a tremendous weight slowly lift from my shoulders.

Yesterday… I returned to the gallery from whence I fled the weekend before.

Actually – there’s something called the Keyes Art Mile; a delightful, eclectic collection of galleries, design stores and studios to be perused and explored… just a stone’s throw away from my favourite, old comfort-zone haunts…

And – can you believe?  After all the years of living in Johannesburg… I have never visited a single one of these world-class galleries… that are right on my doorstep!

As an artist… a creative creature… I have never (until now)… explored this lovely world!!?!  And nobody locked me out or pushed me away… I kept myself away.  I allowed my fears, small-minded-thinking, limited mindsets and deep insecurities to – in essence – rob me… of something really spectacular.

I’m not going to do that again, peeps.  I’m not.

Yesterday, as I explored the new Trumpet building and wandered the halls of Circa… enjoying the colourful creations that adorn those walls…

… for the first time…

(and this is really big for me)…

… for the first time, I felt as though I was in the company of contemporaries… in the company of equals.

Our art may differ… but we’re all artists.

And I gave myself permission to thoroughly experience the art displayed there… and for the first time – I didn’t feel intimidated

I felt inspired.

PS:  I will share more about Southern Guild, WhatiftheWorld and the Keyes Art Mile in an upcoming post…