Do It For the Challenge


Do It For the Challenge

My first day of college was a giant steppingstone for me.

I had just moved from California to Arizona, fresh out of high school. For the last four years I had been shy about expanding my social circles outside of the people I already knew well.

To give you an idea of how shy I was, every year I’d dread the first day of school because I was terrified to find out who I’d be seated with in class. I’d pray and pray that I’d have the same classes as my friends and that we’d be seated together.

When I wasn’t seated with people I already knew, I’d turn red and sweaty. Good luck trying to get me to talk.

Towards the end of my senior year I started taking cautious steps towards befriending new people. I became more comfortable and even began feeding on the excitement.

But I was in a whole new state now. I didn’t know anyone. There were no friends I can rely on to be there for me.

I had to do something I and just about everyone else is deathly afraid of. I had to make new friends all by myself with no fallback.

“Okay, you’re going to talk to at least three strangers today,” I told myself, “You’re not allowed to go home until you do.”

The first person I met was a student who was waiting to pick up her books from the bookstore. We chatted in line and exchanged numbers.

Then I approached a group of five people in the cafeteria. Introduced myself to them, got their numbers, and even went to play volleyball with them later that night.

The momentum carried me forward and I kept up with that challenge on a daily basis. I talked to strangers every day. My friend, who would regularly meet up with me for lunch before our English class, noted that I was with a different person every time he saw me.

The most important for me was doing this as a challenge for myself.

To see if I could. To see if I would.

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, he discusses the concept of “Resistance,” that intangible force that stops creatives from producing their work. Think of procrastination and becoming distracted by Facebook as the Resistance. That desire to get up from the chair after staring at a blank Word document for two hours is the Resistance.

“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.

We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.”

Even if you’re not a writer you can still apply the idea of the Resistance to your daily life.

When you have those butterflies in your stomach because you want to approach and say hi to a cute girl/boy? Not acting on your desires to strike up conversation is you losing to Resistance.

Not stepping outside the door to have a great night with your friends (and potentially meet new ones) because you’re afraid you don’t know what to wear? Resistance.

Not asking for a raise at work even though you feel you deserve to be paid a lot more? Resistance.

Every time you feel that fear, the Resistance, smile and take the challenge. Treat it like a game between you and it. You’re going to win.

Do it for the potential to grow and expand your comfort zone.

Do it for the story.

Do it for the challenge.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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13 responses to Do It For the Challenge

  1. You definitely become stronger as you consistently push yourself out of your comfort zone. Thanks for the reminder to never stop challenging oneself to keep growing. We conquer fear only by going through it!

  2. Life begins outside of your comfort zone as they say. Pushing yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I think it’s great that you pushed yourself to talk to at least three people a day. I’m sure it wasn’t easy at first, but I’m not surprised that it got easier over time. I love how momentum takes over and carries us forward once we take the first step toward doing something uncomfortable.

  3. I was bullied a lot as a kid and was SUPER socially anxious after elementary school. But then I started to see that most people were awesome and I just had some bad luck. People are friendly and love to have random conversations!

    I’m actually in the middle of doing a 1-2 person a day challenge and am tracking it. I MAY have gotten the idea from an e-book about confidence written by a handsome gentleman who works at Empire Flippers but runs a blog in the mean time… Can’t remember his name though, oh well.

    The more you push through those fears, the more you see how silly (and made up) they are. Sometimes we yield, but hopefully we push through them more and more, step by step.

    Remember – we’re only born with two fears – loud noises and falling.

    Everything else is learned and can be broken!

  4. Long time no see Vincent.

    When I read The War of Art (like 1 years ago?) it had a big impact on me as well. I was already familiar with the underlying phenomenon. But. . . Pressfield is such a damn good writer that it inspired me further.

    I think one of THE key differences between people who actually DO cool thing — the things they want to do — and those who don’t is. . .

    . . . That the former group put themselves into the positive feedback loop of facing th resistance. Over time they build an “automatic response” to push through the resistance, rather than backing away from it.

    At least that has been the case for me and some of my friends.


  5. Actually that’s so good for my social life even I was shy but it’s building my confident side of my personality until now.

  6. Every time I push myself and survive (which so far has been every time) I feel empowered. I think I have built up the automatic response to push through but it’s still hard.

    • What I notice is that the fear is almost always strongest during the buildup / anticipation phase. When you actually push through and you’re deep in the action, the feelings go away as you’re set on what it is you’re doing. Hope that makes sense!

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