The Arc of Trying Something New


Last month I decided to take a stand up comedy class.  Apparently, more people have jumped out of airplanes than have stood on stage and done stand up.  When I signed up for the class, I had no idea that we would have a “graduation show” where we would tell 3-6 minutes of jokes in front of 40-70 people.   This class quickly became a metaphor for life for me.  It had to… I was so scared after the first day, learning that I would actually have to perform that I quickly decided to turn the class into a giant life lesson… it was either that or drop out of the class.

I soon realized that out of all the new things I was learning in the class, I was experiencing a fairly typical arc that most people experience when trying something new.  For years I was too scared to even imagine trying… so I didn’t.  Then I decided I wanted to try, but didn’t know where to begin.  It’s not as if I could just walk on stage at a club and steal a microphone.  Then, after years of putting it off, I decided, now was the time.  I researched where one might learn how to do stand up comedy.  I found a class and it took me almost a year to even think about signing up.  Once I signed up I was so excited!  I felt like I had already taken the hardest step!  I was filled with anticipation and a little fear… but the fun kind.  After my first day of class I learned there would be a graduation performance and this filled me with anxiety and fear…of the bad kind.  The next class I tried out some jokes and realized it was much harder than I thought.  I didn’t know that after I wrote jokes I would have to rework them and spend time editing them.  It was much more work than I had planned.  In addition, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything “good enough” for the final performance.  As the class progressed and the teacher gave us helpful and supportive (so supportive!) feedback, my confidence gained. As I committed more time to my joke re-writes and in turn was able to make my friends in class chuckle, I became hopeful.  I pictured being able to make my family and close friends laugh and it brought me so much happiness. I kept at it a few more weeks and on the night of the show, I took a deep breath and decided I really wanted to enjoy my 3-6 minutes on stage.  I also decided to only invite people that I knew would support me no matter how well I did.  It was a great night for so many reasons.  I got to check something off my “bucket list” and I was able to take a risk in an extremely supportive environment.  I felt so fulfilled!  Will I now go on the road with this new routine?  Nope, probably not.  However, I will forever have this experience to refer to when I need to find the courage to TRY anything new.

Lessons Learned About Trying Something New:

It might take time to get the courage to acknowledge you have a desire to try something you have no prior experience with.

It is worth taking the time to find the resources you need to help you explore this new opportunity.

How can you react if what you choose to try is harder than you anticipated?

Identifying the most supportive environment to try something new in will pay dividends during the process.  The wider the net the higher you will jump!

Identifying HOW you want to try something is just as important as the final outcome.  Do you want to have fun?  Do you want to feel challenged? Do you want to feel safe? Are you willing to try it knowing you might not be great at it at first?

What do you want to TRY?