Earlier this year, I started craving a new challenge. Life was feeling mundane. I wanted a new hobby that would challenge my brain, and maybe my body, although I didn’t yet know how to achieve both. I wasn’t seeking out of boredom. No – life is busy enough… I was seeking to grow. I was looking for the life-expanding experiences that seem to slow with age as my career and social life fill the schedule gaps and drain energy and motivation.
The way I saw it, I had four choices to achieve this experience: learn a new instrument, learn a language, learn an art, or learn a sport. I contemplated taking up the piano, the guitar, Spanish, Mandarin, Crossfit, triathlons, and many more fun and exciting ventures. All sounded equally challenging in disparate ways.
One night, I explained all of this to one of my closest friends, Justin. He responded with a proverbial slap on my cheek, “Chris,” he said sternly, “learning an instrument or a language is just about the whitest thing you can do.” He paused for a second, then: “Do something outside your comfort zone.”
While my decision had nothing to do with skin color, I still believed Justin was onto something. Don’t do what is expected of you. Don’t do what your age, race, family, or any other presupposed factor may naturally lead to. Do something different. Do something weird. Do something others won’t understand. Do something uncomfortable.
So I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and I am the first to admit that it is an art I knew nothing about, except for its design for self-defense, self-discipline, and physical challenge. It is a practice that scares me and makes me uncomfortable because I am an infant in that world. I am the least cool guy on the mat. I am a white belt.
In addition, I started training Jiu Jitsu because it is intricate, challenging, and different. As a bonus, it’s a sport and an art. A twofer.
Most importantly, however, I started training Jiu Jitsu because of what Justin and other friends had pushed me to do, something that is completely outside of my comfort zone (see my earlier post on being uncomfortable), and because I believe that these challenges are what promote personal growth and enhance life.
“In the fight, only one person can be comfortable. Your job is to transfer the comfortable from your opponent to you.” – World renown Jiu Jitsu Practitioner, Rickson Gracie
The point is that years from now, whether I’m a black belt, or just had a quick stint in the sport, I know I will be better off for taking on a new challenge and being deliberately uncomfortable. You should try this yourself – whether through Jiu Jitsu, reading a new book, making a new friend, booking a trip to somewhere you’ve never been… The options are endless.