Do Things that Make You Uncomfortable

everyone has controversial opinions, but few of us have the nerve to share them.

for example, i support Trump and many of you are upset with me about it. but speech is just 1 way to share a controversial opinion.

here are a few more ways to stir the pot:

  • tell that pesky colleague to go F*** themselves
  • break off a bad relationship (platonic or romantic)
  • stop drinking with friends
  • cancel your phone plan without warning

i’ve done all these things and life is better now.

today i even sent an email to 150+ friends that says as much:

Ryan Kulp's last friend update

in this essay i’d like to highlight one specific behavior from the email above: resetting your network.

two steps forward

for an urban professional, a “network” is invaluable. this is how you get jobs, fill your weekends, and possibly even meet your future spouse.

many people have told me i have a great network, but the tone in which they share that opinion is often mired in jealousy. like, “because you *know* people, your successes don’t really count.”

maybe i’m crazy. but this is kind of true.

they say the First Million is the Hardest. same goes for anything… your first friend, job, freelance client, whatever, is the hardest. then your network grows by 1, and each n+1 boost thereafter requires less effort than the last.

i don’t appreciate this at all.

one step backward

sometimes i walk by a homeless person and fantasize: if i could swap places with them, how quickly could i get back to where i am now?

acknowledging this odd behavior led to my conclusion in the friend update… i’m growing complacent.

the truth is, the smarter we get, the easier it is to succeed. and this isn’t some cosmic injustice… i’m OK with the paradox. but we are in control of our destiny, and i prefer a challenge.

by resetting my network i return to Day 1:

  • i don’t know anyone,
  • nobody knows me, and
  • i can re-implement a personal vision.

the specifics are hazy but entail more songwriting, less technology. more writing, less reading. more fitness, less liquor.

i don’t see how any of this is possible with my current routine, network, and extrinsic motivators. “do what average people do, get average results.”

your turn

some of you have been reading my blog since 2012, and for that i thank you. but the lurking has got to stop.

if you see value in doing things that make you uncomfortable, do it. don’t email or tweet at me that you enjoyed the post. just do it.

here are a few ways we can all practice stepping outside our comfort zone:

  • Tweet 1 thing you believe that ~half your followers disagree with
  • cut off a leech “friend” (SMS ok, they don’t deserve face to face)
  • don’t snack for a week / exercise daily for a week (whichever is more difficult)
  • finish reading a book you started 1+ year ago
  • cancel something that makes you less productive, ie Netflix

doing just 1 of these things will teach you something about yourself.

when i went to Chiang Mai for a month in 2015 i thought the language barrier and severe isolation would wreak havoc on my extroversion. turns out: i love being alone. i just didn’t try it my whole life because i’m really funny at parties.

this means a lot of things, namely that what actually* makes us uncomfortable might be different than what we think* makes us uncomfortable.

some people say they’re afraid of old people, for example. but if you read books at a nursing home you might enjoy it. i’ve done it. some say public speaking is scary. but if they attend a single Toastmasters session they might be quite good at it.


don’t fear the unknown and all that stuff. make it known, and go from there.