Challenges are tough and they push us to our limits, but doing hard things helps us grow.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: So, we’ve talked about the idea of seeking out challenges and doing things that seem hard or seem difficult or scary. We’ve talked about that quite a lot over, over the episodes that we’ve done on this show, but I thought it would be cool to actually dedicate a whole episode to this and really go into detail on why it’s so important, what good things can come of seeking out hard things. And yeah, it’s just something that I feel really passionately about. It’s something that I’ve tried to do a lot more over the last couple of years in some seasons of personal growth and something that I have really found a lot of benefit from and had a lot of positive things come from. So, just to kind of like laying the groundwork a little bit, I think getting out of your comfort zone is something that, you know, is easy to talk about and easy to think about and maybe even daydream about, whether it’s, you know, a hobby that you wanna try or it’s, you know, a career that you wanna go after or even just starting a conversation with someone that you don’t know. There are so many things in our everyday life that seem challenging and that are so easy to just kind of say no to or let the opportunity pass you by. And one of the main reasons that I think it’s so important to seek out challenges is because that little act of getting out of your comfort zone, whether it’s in a really big way or in a small way, it strengthens your mind and it strengthens your ability to be brave and to put yourself out there. So I know Brittany, you, and I have talked about this a ton. I really admire that you have put yourself out there as a comic and have like really challenged yourself to do a ton of standup comedy, which I think is one of the most, like, intimidating things in the world too. So, do you wanna share a little bit about like, what that’s been like and how you’ve kind of gotten outta your comfort zone there?

Brittany: Yeah, in fact, and I love talking about this cuz this is my, I say it’s a part-time job. I’m not getting paid for. I do actually do get paid on Sunday. I’m getting, I am getting one paid job. Yeah, so that’s fun. But, yeah, it’s, so the first time I went up was three, about three years ago and I was terrified, but it was one of those things where I’m like, all right, if I don’t do it now, I’m never gonna do it. I’m just gonna go up. But then the pandemic happened and so, it took me a while to get up again. Right. And every time it gets, it’s scary and you’re kind of, you know, you don’t know if you’re gonna be able to do it. You are standing in front of a ton of people. Sometimes they don’t laugh, but, you know, it’s very scary. but it gets easier and it’s actually funny. there’s one, so they’re called open mics and that’s where you go with other people who are trying to be comics and you try out new material, and a lot of times you’re in like restaurants or bars where nobody knows there’s going to be comedy, and so they’re not there to see you. So they don’t necessarily like what’s going on. Like they don’t, they didn’t come to see comedy. So there’s this one restaurant I go to every Tuesday night and it’s really hard for me. And I, don’t actually love it but I do it because it’s such a hard crowd. And I think to myself, if I can do it in front of this crowd, I can do it anywhere. But it’s a little bit, it goes a little bit further than that because there’s also this feeling of if I can get the people’s attention who don’t wanna be listening cuz they’re all watching sports and talking. If I can say something so funny that I get their attention, then I’m doing, you know, then I’m actually like getting better and I go to this cuz it makes me tougher. But I’ll be honest like there are sometimes I just dread it because I’m like, I have to go and I have to not get laughed at. And you never know. It’s funny too because sometimes I’ll go places and my jokes will be like, people laugh like crazy sometimes I’ll go other places and the same joke gets no laughs. So you do you have to just be really brave. You have to be really tough and it is so challenging. But I will tell you it has been the most rewarding thing and it’s made me brave in so many other areas of my life that it’s just been, it’s my favorite thing, I love it.

Emma: That’s awesome. So I have a follow-up to this because I think a lot of people would actually benefit from hearing a little more on how you actually get ready and like push through those nerves. Yeah. Cause I totally know how you feel where it’s like you’re about to do something and you’re kind of dreading it, but you know, it’ll be good. How do you kind of push through that and get in a headspace where you’re able to go up and like kinda ignore your feelings of being scared or dread?

Brittany: It gets easier every time. but one thing I’ll absolutely say is if you don’t go and prepared, you’re not gonna succeed, right? So there’s a lot of, I know I’ve heard of some comics that are just like, I’m gonna go up there and riff means they’re not gonna prepare anything. They’re just gonna go kind of talk. And some people are good at that when they’ve been doing it a while, but be prepared. So, you know, you can’t control what the audience is gonna do. But you can control how prepared you are and ready to get up. So that’s really good. I try to get in the headspace where I have practiced but I haven’t practiced so much cuz there’s actually such a thing as over-practicing where you get like in your head about it. Yeah. So there’s that. And I think I do think again, yeah, it just, it gets easier every time but there is always that feeling and I think you should always have a little bit of the anticipation, the butterflies in your stomach. Because I think that’s also the excitement for what you’re gonna do. So, yeah. And this is some advice a comic gave me another comic. He said, make sure you’re having fun. Like why do you do this? You do this cuz you enjoy doing it. If it turns into something you’re dreading cuz you know it’s gonna be hard, then this isn’t gonna be something that you enjoy doing. So I always go up there and I try to have fun with the audience, so.

Emma: Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that. And I think again, like going up and doing standup comedies probably cuz I know there’s like the list of things people are afraid of and public speaking is like number one right? And death is number two. So it’s like they would literally rather die than go talk in front of people. And I think trying to be funny on top of that is just like, takes a special gift and a lot of practice. But yeah I think yeah hearing from Brittany it’s really cool to sort of hear how you push through that. But I think there are ways even in our everyday life where we can kind of get out of our comfort zone that maybe don’t require, you know, something as big as trying out like a new part-time career. Cuz that can seem a little bit daunting and maybe nothing comes to mind for you at the time. I’m kinda talking to our listeners here. But when you think about ways that you can get outta your comfort zone because this is something that I recommend doing regularly, you know, there’s all sorts of stuff you can do, whether it’s a new hobby that you are interested in but you don’t have experience in. I’ve kind of experienced this recently where I started doing pottery and using like pottery wheel.

Brittany: That’s fun.

Emma: It is so much fun. I have really fallen in love with it. But I showed up as a complete beginner with zero experience in this studio with some other people who really knew what they were doing. And then a teacher who was a little bit on the intimidating side and I had to show up and be totally okay with not knowing what I was doing. Which, you know, if you mostly stick to doing things in your life that you know how to do and that’s something I think you fall into more as an adult when you kind of have like your set job and your things that you do and your schedule. I definitely think as a kid it’s a little easier to be, you know, doing new things day to day. But yeah, I showed up to this class and ended up having a great time, but there were lots of pots that I messed up because I did it wrong and the teacher would say, oh you need to throw that away. And my pride would be a little bit hurt cause I’m like, well it looks fine to me. And he is like, Nope, you’re not making that in my class. And it was kind of like an interesting, I don’t know, it was almost like a pride exercise where you have to be willing to put your pride aside Yeah. And be not so good at something. And I think that’s really huge.

Brittany: Which is hard. That’s a really hard thing to do.

Emma: It is. Yeah. And I think it’s something where if you can get good at that cuz it is kind of like a practice, it’s like a bustle being willing to be humbled. I think it’s something that is gonna serve you really well throughout your life. So, but to do that you kind of have to do it all the time. And I think, you know, there’s a couple of other things that come to mind. One that I liked to do when I was younger was read books that were a little bit above my reading level and, you know, it can be a little bit frustrating or maybe like sometimes it can seem a little bit boring, but that’s a really good way to increase your reading comprehension, become more well-rounded and learn about things that you wouldn’t normally learn about. So that’s kind of like a simple one that you could try this week if you wanted to, if you go to the library or if you order books online or whatever, you know, maybe talk to your parents and say, hey, what’s something a little harder that I could try to read next? And I think that’s a great thing to do. Another one that comes to mind is setting exercise goals. So if you’re someone that likes to be active, maybe time yourself doing, a run or doing, you know, whatever your physical challenge is, whether it’s like pushups and pullups or whatever it may be time yourself and then see what you’re able to do and then set a goal to improve or to be able to do more or to run faster or whatever. And then set a timeframe and train and push yourself to be able to reach that goal. And I would even recommend telling other people about it so that, you know, you have people to check in and hold you accountable. Cause sometimes that little bit of social pressure can be a really good thing. But do you have any other things, Brittany, that you could recommend for kids to kind of get used to getting outta their comfort zone? Put you on the spot.

Brittany: Putting doing it? No, you’re fine. Yeah. I love talking about this topic. you know, that’s one thing I really started doing in 2021 and 2022 is if I thought something made me feel uncomfortable, I was like, you know what, I’m not gonna think I’m just gonna do it. I’m gonna, you know, because if I overthink it and I am an overthinker, then I just won’t do it. And then I’ll never get outta my comfort zone and I’ll never, you know, grow like I need to grow. And I think I’ve given this example many times is, I took voice lessons and was a singer forever, but I never was able to do any real theater because I would go to auditions and then chicken out cause I was so scared cause they were so scary. And that I always regret that because those were challenges that I ran away from. And it’s crazy to me to think of all the things I could have done in life, not just with that if I would’ve been ready to accept challenges and do hard things cuz life is full of hard things. And you can either run from them or you can tackle them head-on and become a stronger person and that will make you braver to do other things. So one thing I do now is I travel alone used to scare me. And I always like to meet up with friends. So it’s not that I’m com you know, completely alone, but I go and I get, you know, I do for the most part go alone. And that’s been something that’s been really fun for me as I’ve gotten older. So I do these things that are a little scary at first. And the crazy thing is so many of them end up being my favorite things. So, it’s like, what? Look at all this I would’ve missed out on if I wouldn’t have just done. Piano, I’ve talked about this before too. I’ve always played by ear but never really been like, serious about it, I like to accompany myself because I sing and that’s what I really wanted to do. And during the pandemic, I was like, all right, what new hobby am I gonna take up now that I have Yeah. all this time. And it’s really frustrating. It’s really frustrating when you’re learning how to play a new instrument. Especially since I’ve taught myself, so I don’t have a teacher, but every time I would get frustrated, you know, and I’d get through that challenge, things got easier and I could tackle the next challenge. And it’s funny to me, cuz I’ve gone back recently and tried to learn songs, in the beginning, were just too hard for me and they’re so easy. You know, I just, but another thing to that point actually is you shouldn’t take on challenges. You’re not ready for it. And so, like, here’s what I mean. Like, I first learned easier songs in the piano and then I went to harder ones, then I went to Harder Things, right? If you jump right into something that’s really hard, you might set yourself up for failure and like, then you re then you like feel bad about not being able to do something. So the challenge isn’t useful for you. So I used to tell my students this at the school I used to teach at where there’s such thing as a bad challenge. If you’re challenging yourself too much, you’re not gonna grow, you’re probably just gonna give up. Right? Yeah. So make sure that the challenges you’re doing are realistic and there are things you can do so that you like you said, it’s a muscle so you can get stronger and stronger and be able to do more challenges and bigger challenges. So yeah, I think this is a really fun topic to talk about.

Emma: Totally. I like what you’re saying too about doing stuff that’s doable for you. Like Yes, I have been lifting weights a lot over the last year or two and I didn’t walk in and immediately try to like squat 300 pounds, you know, I’m still not there, but who knows if I ever will be? But you start out with basically just the bar and then you add on a little bit more weight and a little bit more weight. And it’s really like, we just did an episode recently about enjoying the journey. It’s really about the journey and about pushing yourself and the confidence that you get from having little ways that you push yourself. You know, day to day is just so awesome and it really reminds you, hey, I’m capable of doing things that are hard for me and it feels really good and it’s fulfilling. So that’s where we’ll wrap it up today guys. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.