218 – Unfamiliar vs. Uncomfortable

by | Dec 31, 2020 | Podcast

A significant part of building a music career is facing things that are outside of your comfort zone. So, how can you keep rising to new levels without losing momentum?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:30 – A new distinction
  • 00:47 – What is unfamiliar? What is uncomfortable?
  • 01:10 – How to think about unfamiliar
  • 03:55 – How to think about uncomfortable
  • 05:50 – Episode summary
  • 07:03 – Thoughts on today’s episode?
  • 07:24 – Final thoughts


Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.

I recently stumbled on a distinction I wanted to share with you. I think it will prove beneficial in your creative efforts.

Today, we’re going to be looking at the difference between “unfamiliar” and “uncomfortable.” And while the difference might seem subtle, it’s critical if you want to perform at your highest level.

The Difference Between “Unfamiliar” & “Uncomfortable”

Unfamiliar is when you’re treading into unknown territory.

Uncomfortable is when you don’t know how to act in a situation.

You can certainly feel uncomfortable when something is unfamiliar, and you can also feel unfamiliar when something is uncomfortable.

But when you see that the two don’t need to be collapsed onto each other, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges that arise in your music career.


When something is unfamiliar, it means you’ve probably never experienced it before. You haven’t been in that situation. So, you don’t know what to expect.

If you’re trying to get your website set up, but have no idea how to use WordPress, you would be unfamiliar with WordPress.

It would be strange to say you’re uncomfortable with WordPress at this stage, because you haven’t even used it yet. You know as well as I do that you can become comfortable with anything if you just spend enough time with it.

When something is unfamiliar, the learning curve seems the steepest. But it’s also where the most learning tends to happen.

When I was teaching guitar, I always found it amazing how I could take a student from not knowing how to play guitar to teaching them finger exercises, scales, and a few basic songs in a matter of a few lessons. If the student were especially attentive, they could pick all that up in one half-hour lesson!

So, unfamiliarity is not bad. But you must recognize your human tendency to avoid what’s unfamiliar.

You may say, “networking is so hard,” when you’ve never attended a networking event. It’s unfamiliar, and until you’re used to introducing yourself, talking about yourself in a compelling away, and listening to others as they share, it’s going to seem daunting.

Go to enough of these events, and you will get the hang of it. No need to be scared. You’re just unfamiliar. Uncomfortable is when you’ve done it once or twice, and you have a better sense of what to expect, and what you’re expecting is the worst, which is human.

Procrastination often stems from what’s unfamiliar too. You don’t touch it, because you have no idea how, and you have some strange expectation of yourself that you should already know how.

When it comes to anything unfamiliar, you need to give yourself some grace. Have no expectations. Make mistakes.

When I don’t know how to do something the right way, I find tremendous value in making all the mistakes upfront. It helps me avoid those mistakes in the future.

If you’re messing around with new software, click on everything and see what it does.

If you’re trying to install new pickups in your guitar, watch some YouTube videos to get a better idea how it’s done.

Learning and gaining new skills is always valuable. You have no idea how many ways it might end up benefiting your music career long term. Trust me when I say you can leverage everything you learn to multiply your productivity, output, and influence.

At 15, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life performing. Sure, I’ve written and published plenty of music, but I’ve also written five books, something I would not have even expected of myself at 15.

When something is unfamiliar, it just means it’s something to be learned. If we don’t learn, we stagnate. See the unfamiliar as an opportunity to learn, not as an excuse to run away.


Uncomfortable denotes familiarity. Meaning, you’ve been in a situation before, and you know it’s uncomfortable.

Now, you can certainly walk into any situation, and know whether it’s uncomfortable to you in a short amount of time. So, you can transition from unfamiliar to uncomfortable relatively quickly.

The good news is whatever seems uncomfortable to you doesn’t need to stay that way forever.

When you were first learning how to swim or ride a bike, no doubt it was uncomfortable to you. But as you kept at it, eventually it became comfortable.

Some of you may have never learned to swim or ride a bike, so another example would be learning to sing or play an instrument. Since you’re teaching your body to do things it’s never done before, of course it’s uncomfortable. But with practice, you got better.

Many of the things we need to do to grow our careers will seem difficult at first.

You know how asking someone out can feel quite uncomfortable, especially if it’s your first time asking?

Much of what we need to do in the music business is kind of like that. You’ve got to introduce yourself, make connections, compliment others, follow up, risk rejection and failure, make bold requests, send out demos, book gigs, reach out to radio stations, submit our music to bloggers, and more.

It will be uncomfortable at first. And because it doesn’t feel good, you won’t feel like putting yourself through it.

But maybe the reason it feels uncomfortable is because you haven’t been doing enough of it. I would challenge you to send 10 emails to people in the music business today to introduce yourself. One of those 10 can be me. Then I’ll also know you’ve listened to this episode. My email is david@dawcast.com.

Remember – if swimming, riding a bike, or learning an instrument can eventually become comfortable, so can creating connections, promotion, building a team, and so on. You just need practice!

Episode Summary

Here’s today’s episode summary:

  1. There’s a difference between “unfamiliar” and “uncomfortable” and distinguishing the two can help you overcome inertia, laziness, stagnation, ruts, and so on, and get into action. To overcome challenges, you need to be in action.
  2. Unfamiliar is when you’re treading into unknown territory. You might feel anxious, just as anyone would feel anxious going bungee jumping or skydiving for the first time. But to say that you’re uncomfortable is not quite true, because that would mean you have experience. Give yourself grace when you’re facing something unfamiliar. Don’t have any expectations for yourself or how you’ll do. Just go into it, make mistakes, and figure things out as you go.
  3. Uncomfortable is when you don’t know how to act in a situation. But we all know from experience that we can gain confidence with repeated exposure to similar situations, be it asking someone out, networking events, playing a gig, or otherwise. If discomfort is holding you back, spend more time in those situations instead of avoiding them. Start practicing and be intentional about the process.


As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I already shared my email in today’s episode, so feel free to reach out and share.

What did you get out of today’s episode? Did you find it helpful?

What has your experience of unfamiliar and uncomfortable been like? Did you find this distinction helpful?

Is there an unfamiliar or uncomfortable experience you’d be willing to share with me and other listeners?

Let me know!


If you’re ready to tread out into the unfamiliar and begin embracing the uncomfortable, then head on over to davidandrewwiebe.com/Join and grab the guide that interests you most. I’m confident you will find something that appeals to you personally, whether it’s growing your Spotify following or increasing your subs on YouTube. Again, go to davidandrewwiebe.com/Join to get your free guide and get added to our email list.

This has been episode 218 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.