The HR Juggler

New Experiences, Pyjama Parties and Comfort Zones

Posted on: February 27, 2011

Pink gingham pyjamas

I had a very strange, very different experience on Saturday night. A couple of months ago, friends of ours had invited us to a get-together at their house, but the twist was that it was to be a pyjama party and everyone had to come wearing their bedclothes. I hadn’t been to a pyjama party since I was about 10 and can honestly say I was horrified at the thought….in fact I have spent the last few weeks dreading it, feeling hugely grumpy and irritated about it, convinced that it was the most ridiculous and inappropriate idea ever. And Saturday was the night in question, when I had to finally leave my denial and grumpiness behind and make the best of it.

The obvious question is why I would choose to go and put myself through it, if I was that uncomfortable with the concept. Mr C was keen and felt we ought to support our friends doing something a little left-field (they are usually very straight!); I didn’t want to be a party pooper and short of inventing an excuse and telling outright fibs, there was really no good reason not to go.

And do you know what? I actually had a lot of fun. I laughed more than I have done for ages and the evening flew by. In my preoccupation with being outside of my comfort zone and my perception of how ridiculous the idea was, I had forgotten some key, vital facts. Like the fact that the group of friends that the party consisted of have known each other for most of our adult lives, and the men have been friends for even longer than that, through school, scouts or apprenticeships. Like the fact that they are one of the most reliable sets of friends I have and that everyone without fail followed instructions and came dressed for bed (even though we all secretly suspected that we were the only ones who were going to and it was all a practical joke). And like the fact that unbeknown to me…and I hadn’t checked with any of them directly…most of the other women felt weird and self-conscious about it in the lead up to it too. We all laughed – at times hysterically! – at how funny the whole thing was, at each other and at ourselves….against all odds and expectations, it was a great evening.

So, at a time when work-wise I feel busier than I have done for a long time, and many of the things that I am dealing with are completely new and way out of my comfort zone, I’m going to try and take back some lessons from the PJ party –

  • New experiences can be good – it is worth trying before being too cynical
  • I may feel out on a limb, but the chances are that other people around me do too
  • Utilising my support network can only help
  • Comfort zones are there to be stretched…my Mum always used to remind me as a teenager of what Joan of Arc apparently replied when asked as to whether she had been fearful on the battlefield. “J’ai eu peur avant” – I was scared beforehand
  • Doing something that I’m scared of feels good!

I still maintain that PJ parties are meant for children and not grown-ups….and feel I should point out that it wasn’t THAT sort of party…but I’m also happy to admit that I learnt an awful lot more than I thought I would!

Learning experiences in unusual settings? How do you deal with the discomfort of stretching your comfort zone? Feel free to share 😉

5 Responses to "New Experiences, Pyjama Parties and Comfort Zones"

Well done – sounds like you had good fun and good learning. I like to stretch my comfort zone, and step right out of it sometimes. I play and sing live in front of an audience of a couple of hundred folks once a year. I’m the warm up act to some proper bands and musicians. It scares the living daylights out of me and helps make a lot of other things feel…..not so scary. Stepping out of the zone is fun 🙂 Allez allez allez!

I spend a lot of time in my jambes, it’s how I am comfortable.
Being out of my comfort zone is another point entirely. I always know when this is happening because I get moany and belligerent. When I spot this, despite wanting to remain there wallowing in self pity I usually pull myself together and throw myself into whatever it is. I find that enthusiasm and having fun is infectious so others also enjoy it.
As much as I hate change I constantly seem to push myself on and into situations where I am challenged. I have no idea why! My current ‘stretch’ is taking on a tricky solo at the choir I only recently joined???
Reflecting on your post has made me realise I am being a right moany old bag about something I am working on. It’s time to sort it out! Thanks for the nudge Alison!

great piece. wondered where it was going for a minute but very nicely tied up into a nice lesson at the end. look forward to reading more of your entries…

[…] Alison Chisnell is our very own HR Juggler! How she also finds time to blog is beyond me, but she does! Always interesting, here she talks about New Experiences, Pyjama Parties and Comfort Zones […]

Hi Alison. I’m reading all the carnival of HR posts – and making a comment on them all. Sorry – you get me twice on this one!

I don’t wear PJs, and many years ago we went to a PJ party. I bought a green silk pair from M&S – went to the party and took the PJs back on Monday for a refund! Naughty boy.

Cheers – Doug

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