Explore Your Ragged Edge

Yesterday, I was directed over to Tribal Writer by pal Jessica Corra to read this post about 6 So-Called Rules for the Badass Creative Woman by Justine Musk.  It is, as my husband’s friends are apt to say, F***AWESOME (which is their highest form of praise and has, in fact, spawned a recipe for 4 Letter Word Chicken–but that’s another story).  Go ahead.  Read it.  I’ll wait.

The whole thing resonated with me, but in particular her section about exploring your ragged edge.

Your ragged edge is your point of growth, the outer limits of your comfort zone, where the stuff you know drops off into the stuff you don’t. It’s an unsettling place to be. You will have to experiment. You will fall down, and fail, and make mistakes, and flounder around, and live with the kind of ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with dealing with the unknown.

I love this.  It’s something I believe in so passionately, this idea of taking risks, being willing to make mistakes, all in the name of growth and learning.

There’s nothing wrong with safety.  We should all have our safe space, somewhere we can turn off, unwind, be ourselves.  But as Claire said in her fantastic post this morning on Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone, if you stay there

Our muscles start to atrophy because we’re certainly not moving from this, the comfiest spot in existence. We suffer some serious digestive issues because we’re eating the same thing over and over, not getting enough of some vitamins and getting too much of others. We never learn or experience New Things because we’re complacently clinging to Things We’re Used To.

There is weakness in being too attached to routine, too attached to the usual.  Because those attachments are rooted in FEAR.  And fear is a toxic thing that eats away at you and your safe world until you’re bound into a tiny, narrow-minded space that’s hardly big enough to turn around in.  It’s mental agoraphobia (by which I am making an analogy, not talking about clinical agoraphobia) that can leave you so paralyzed with terror over the Different that you don’t actually LIVE.

I have a reputation for being an incredibly strong woman.  As a mushroom eater.  I take calculated risks; I try new things–whether that’s new foods, new marketing strategies, or pushing my own boundaries and capabilities as a writer.  I make a point of it because I do depend a great deal on routine and the familiar in order to Do All The Things because they have to be done, and if I don’t do them, nobody else is gonna step up.  I push myself and I risk failure because to do otherwise is to stagnate and accept Things As They Are.  And I’m just not okay with that.  I’m not satisfied with the status quo.  I am meant for bigger and better things, and that is why I continue to juggle three jobs and maintain a perpetual state of semi-exhaustion as I push through all the Crap I Have To Do in order to Do The Things I Want To.  Because to get where I’m going means taking those risks, maybe falling on my face and picking myself up and going on again before I get it right.  It takes courage.

So I say to you have COURAGE, friends.  To step outside of your comfort zone, to explore your ragged edge.  Because as many wise folks have said in various iterations over the years, courage is not the absence of fear–it is continuing on in spite of it.

And this could apply on any level.

11 thoughts on “Explore Your Ragged Edge

  1. Justine’s and Claire’s and your post are f***ing awesome, Kait. I am so about the comfort zone (“hmm, why don’t I write a little more non-fiction, since it’s so, well, comfy.”) I really need a kick in the butt, and realizing that way lies stagnant, nasty, slimy water where gators like to dwell (at least in my neck of the universe) makes me think. How bad can it be to try and fail? No worse than where I am *light goes on*. Thanks to you and Claire and Justine for the kicks!

  2. FANTASTIC post, K. And thank you for the blog shoutout! I love the phrase “explore your ragged edge.” For writers, it’s akin to what we put our characters through; there’s no adventure, reward, and ultimate payoff without pushing them as far — and farther than — they can possibly go. Same with us. I have always admired your fearlessness; you are an inspiration to EVERYONE around you, I just know it. You certainly are to me!


  3. Good one, Kait. I needed the reminder: boundaries, borderlands. It’s where innovation dwells. Thanks from someone who’s feeling a little too comfortable today, with my puppy asleep on one side of me and my favorite brand of coffee on the other.

  4. Awesome post! Yes, to get everything done and be creative and put ourselves out there it takes courage! Thank you fort he reminder and the focus. Now I just wish I had something courageous that needs getting done- I don’t think dishes count.

  5. Very awesome post 🙂 I’ll admit, I hate stress (doesn’t everyone to some extent?)…and doing things outside my Comfort Zone typically equal stress in my book. I know if I want to make it as an author, I need to pull on a crystal-skin hide and toughen up…and make that first step outside of the CZ. Which means starting to comment on blogs and tweeting…instead of pulling a ‘me’ and avoiding it, because I’m afraid that people might judge.

    And it sounds like 4 Letter Word chicken would do amazingly well at our house 😉

  6. I’m afraid I was too offended by the stereotypical statements about people on the autistic spectrum to appreciate the 6 so-called rules post as much as I might have. And I’m not that easily offended.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Kait! I have to admit, I seem to be in over my head this fall–also doing the three jobs thing, and each job seems to take up a little more time and energy as I go. But I believe we have to be willing to push ourselves a little further, a little harder than we thought we were capable of. And now, I’m going to keep pushing through some revisions. Here it goes…

  8. Awesome post! Thanks for all the links – lots of food for thought. Think I’m at the ragged edge now – so jumping in with both feet even though it makes me uncomfortable.

  9. Thank you. Your post is just what I needed at this moment. My comfort zone grabs and claws at me to stay the same way great sleep holds my head to the pillow through the alarm (yep, having sleep issues. Lol.) I will check out those links now…have to do one at a time or I’ll get lost in cyberspace. Thank you for the reminder! Great post!

  10. Fantastically put Kait (and I agree Justine’s and Claire’s posts rock)!

    Comfort zones are nice for TV shows and maybe your fav restaurants but that’s as far as it goes. We need to be continually branching out, challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves beyond our limits so that we can grow and expand. Moving past our fears teaches us about our strength, courage and abilities and grows our confidence and empowerment while giving into them feeds insecurities and low self-esteem.

    Great post. Inspirational and got me all fired up to pick a new challenge!

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