Dispatch from outside the comfort zone

by Christian Bryant

My name is Christian Bryant and I am a 23-year-old aspiring journalist and Greensboro native. In the spring of 2010, I received my BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta, and was quickly thrust into a six-month, soulsearching voyage to discover the meaning of life and, possibly, find my way out of Greensboro once again.

I’ve been living at home with mom, dad, a little sister and a cantankerous grandmother since graduation, and I have developed an embarrassing daily routine, one that others might not dare divulge.

I wake up roughly around 9:30 a.m. Since I’m one of America’s jobless, I have no need nor any urge to get up at a reasonable hour. I roll out of the wrong side of the bed and I find myself dancing down the stairs toward the kitchen, guided by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. The dance is unintentional.

As a matter of fact, I think gracefully falling down the stairs would be a more accurate description.

After coffee and vacant staring into nothingness, I will stumble into my 76-year-old grandmother’s room just as she is waking up. She’s been living with my family for more than a year now and has greatly contributed to the amount of loving discourse. That’s sarcasm, by the way.

I harass my grandmother with nearly a thousand questions just to get her moving. She usually parries with some quick and deeply hurtful retort just before “The Andy Griffith Show” comes on. For that half-hour we retreat to our respective corners until one of us verbally prods the other with more hateful remarks.

I am currently completing the application processes for several different journalism schools, so checking the status on those is a priority.

Even so, that particular task doesn’t require very much effort. After checking with recommenders and submitting additional materials, all I can do is wait.

I’ve been making sure to read the New York Times and the Greensboro News & Record. God forbid someone asks me what publications I read and I say, “Ya know, all of them!” This is also a preventative routine to keep me from becoming the next Jayson Blair.

Throughout the course of the day, I’ll field phone calls from friends, run errands for mom and dad, and attempt to keep my sister from doing her work — anything but what I should be doing.

These activities have been intermittent between a month-long European tour, a flight to Arizona for the annual Fall Frenzy music concert and occasional trips to Charlotte to hang out with my big brother. I have developed a certain level of comfortability and contentment with my life and what I’m doing with myself. Strangely enough, the comfort is painful.

My first day on the job, YES! Weekly Editor Brian Clarey mentioned that “the human body wasn’t made to be comfortable all of the time. Take Wal-Mart. They are full of people like that.”

As enjoyable as it has been to be around my beloved family, this is probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my entire life. After four years of uncontested independence, partying galore and putting in massive hours of late-night studying, I have fallen into a routine that has proven to be detrimental. The working edge, the wittiness, the off-thecuff intelligence — nearly everything I worked to make second nature during my undergraduate days has since been sapped from my body.

Another fact about me is that I ran cross-country in college — arguably. I sucked, but I put in the work anyway, as if my skill was going to increase exponentially. The team would be up and running before sunrise, our legs still churning well after sunset.

Cross-country practices mainly consisted of over-mileage exercises. Races would range from 8 to 10 kilometers. In turn, we would chart well over 10 kilometers at each practice. At first, the workload made absolutely no sense. I would be too exhausted to lift my fork in the dining hall and homework was out of the discussion. The uncomfortability was literally painful.

Even so, what I noticed is that the uncomfortability I was feeling began to stretch my limits. My times decreased and I was less morbid after each practice. As corny as it sounds, I was actually starting to feel a difference.

I use this example to denote my excitement for my internship with YES! Weekly. Trying something new, breaking a habit or even going against tradition can be tough. We, as socially conscious and optimistic human beings, must learn to harness that strange feeling to stretch our respective limits of understanding, physical ability, intellect, tolerance, acceptanc … the list goes on.

In 2011, let’s resolve to embrace that which is uncomfortable and accept the awkwardness that may come along with it. Like a runner’s conditioning exercises, it can be a painful process but so is wallowing in content. It’s in those uncomfortable times that we grow and we become much better people than we were before.