And I don’t mean challenge yourself to a “jerk-off-off” and try to rub out a new daily high score (7).
What I do mean is that you should do something that breaks your routine—pushes you out of your comfort zone. Sure, you hear this all the time and you shrug it off. It has about the same effect as “apply yourself” or some other guidance counselor bullshit.
What does “challenge yourself” even mean? What’s this “comfort zone” shit?
Well, think of something you are good at, or think you are good at.
Just one? Easy!
Okay, give me a second.
One that’s not Call of Duty related
Damn. Okay, keep going. I’ll think about it.
So think of a strength that you have and now identify a weakness within it. Once you find that weakness, get better at it by attacking it directly—in the most uncomfortable way possible! Example time:
- Good at writing by yourself but you don’t play well with others? Force yourself to write with someone!
- Mentally prepared for the zombie apocalypse but your body is a little behind? Buy “Zombies, Run!” and save yourself!
- Getting good grades in your major-related classes? Try an honors class or an unrelated class! Business Major? Take a ceramics class! Arts Major? Tackle some Physics!
- Kicking ass at your job while others struggle to keep up? Help those around you!
- Master at masturbating? Go hardcore mode (dry & w/o porn)!
Me? I’m doing Shakespeare.
That’s not challenging, you’re an actor. That’s all you do is Shakespeare, right?
In all my years of acting, I have never done a single play of Shakespeare’s. Until now. I auditioned for A Comedy of Errors (Google it) because my friend recommended it and because this production involved puppets.
And you know I love puppets!
I didn’t think I’d stand much of a chance, I even outted myself by mentioning “I have little Shakespeare experience” (a small lie, I have none). But instead of not being cast, I actually received the roles of Antipholus of Syracuse AND Antipholus of Ephesus. That’s not just one lead role, that’s two lead roles for a man who has never done any classical theatre. For those unfamiliar with theatre, maybe think about a man who plays well on a baseball team but then is suddenly the captain of a cricket team. It’s similar, but totally different.
I’m only a few days into rehearsal, but several weeks into memorizing and working with the text and it is MADDENING. I’m trying harder with this show than I have before. I mean, never did anything require me to push myself so far and still struggle. Sure, it’s extremely difficult, and sure, I may have thought about quitting at times, but doing all the work and being dedicated to it has made me, not only a better actor, but a better person. And I’m not even finished yet, so who knows if it will even “work out in the end”!
So challenge yourself in some way! If you succeed, you are better for it because you pushed past your limitations! And if you fail, then you at least found out where those limitations are. Either way, it is personal growth that you can’t get from doing the same shit everyday.