No, not the predictable "Twilight Zone in outer space" TV show. I'm thinking of my personal limits. For the past few months, I've been striving to stretch and reach beyond the artificial limitations I once put on myself. This is fun, challenging, and rewarding. I keep learning that I can accomplish more and have a greater impact when I am living to my fullest and not sticking to the shadows. But I wasn't entirely prepared for life to bring me an experience that reminds me that I still have limits.
I acknowledge that I hold my own pretty well with people. I am often able to connect with people who are choosing to be a bit aggressive about their opinions, or even belligerent in their demeanor. I recognize that what they are expressing is about them, not me, and it's like water off a duck. I do this often enough that I'm used to being able to do so. When someone comes along that is behaving way beyond what I typically encounter, my instant belief is that I can deal with this person the same way I do everyone else... that I can still connect with this person and hold my own ground without much of an emotional cost.
The problem is that I have real limitations about how much toxicity my emotional kidneys can process. My "I can do this," becomes "I should be able to do this," and I wind up persisting in a conversation longer than what is healthy. My mind tells me that if I disengage then I am admitting failure in some weird way. And yet if I allow myself to be negatively impacted by someone else's words or behavior, I have somehow "lost."
But stretching to the fullest extent of my own personal limits doesn't imply that I have no limitations. I may be in the habit of not reaching for the absolute border of my capabilities, but that doesn't mean that I can do anything. I do have limits. I don't have to engage everyone I encounter completely in order to be an engaging person. And I can accept the reality of who some people are without enjoying my experience of their presence. I can even choose not to be around a person whose behavior is consistently toxic. It's one way of caring for myself.
Then it hits me... This is what being at the edge feels like. When I'm pushing against something in life and it's pushing back at me, I learn something about myself, reality, and Truth. When I hide out in the safe zone, far from approaching the edge my personal reach, there's no challenge. I don't get to learn anything. And the edge is where my passion is.