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Get out of your comfort zone: Conquering my fears in a hollering contest

It isn’t easy to get out of your comfort zone, but confronting that fear is a way to grow and move forward. Here’s how a hollering contest helped me face my fears.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
how to get out of your comfort zone
how to get out of your comfort zone

Getting out of my comfort zone: That time, I entered a pig-hollering contest.

getting out of your comfort zone by screaming like a pig

“The First Place Winner Is Annie André,” said the master of ceremonies.

“Yee-haw, 25 dolla makes you holla; I just won myself 25 bucks for screaming like a pig in a hollering contest!”

Bottles of spicy hot sauce at the General store in Floyd Virginia

In the summer of 2017, my husband and I flew to North America to go through our belongings which were stored in a storage unit. The goal was to cull through our things and get everything ready to ship back to our home in France in a sea container.

Since Blake’s family lives in the US, we decided to visit his sister in Maryland and then his brother in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Floyd, Virginia, which is mainly known for its Appalachian mountain culture and FloydFest.

Floydfest is an annual music and arts festival that usually takes place over four days in late July or early August and features a diverse music lineup, including old-time music, bluegrass, and rock.

People literally pour out onto the streets playing music on their fiddles, banjos and guitars. Some people even performed on their front porches while people pulled up their lawn chairs to listen and watch.

In addition to music, the festival also had workshops, food, crafts, and a variety of outdoor activities, including a hollering contest, which for some strange reason, I decided to enter. 

Get out of your comfort zone: one holler at a time

stepping out of your comfort zone by screaming like a pig

In case you didn’t know, hollering is a lost art. 

Before modern-day communication, like cell phones and email, people would HOLLER to communicate and call people and animals far away in the distance.

Nowadays, hollering can mainly be seen as a sideshow contest at fairs and festivals in rural areas.

There are even hollering contests in some rural areas of France, like the French pig squealing championships at the annual pig Festival in Trie-sur-Baise, a remote French farming village located in the foothills of the Pyrenees. People from far and wide come to see this unusual event every August. 

Let the pig-hollering contest begin.

get out of your comfort zone by screaming like a pig

Despite the hot sticky summer weather and annoying mosquitoes, everyone who was gathered around the outdoor stage was smiling.

The air was filled with cheerful anticipation for the start of the hollering contest.

Then, the master of ceremonies asked for volunteers to enter the hollering contest.

For some strange reason, I wanted to enter the contest, even though it was completely out of my comfort zone. 

The contest had three types of hollerers: kids, traditional, and freestyle hollering.

The little kids in the contest all seemed to let out blood-curdling screams that any self-respecting horror actress would be proud of.


Then there were those that did more traditional hollering, like the man who did an actual pig call. I imagine this must be how farmers long ago called their pigs home from the fields after a long day of grazing.

And finally, there were the freestyle-hollering contestants

 One man yodelled. It was a very good yodel which made me think of Julie Andrews in the sound of music and that little Swiss guy on the Ricola commercials.

“Yodel-AY-eeee, Yodel-ay-eeee, Yodel-ay-eEEEEEEE-OOOOOO”

Then it was my turn to holler

how doing something scary can help you crush your fears

As I walked towards the stage, I asked myself, “Why in the hell am I doing this?

But another voice in my head said, “Keep walking, you SISSY; it’s only a silly screaming contest.”

Then before I knew it, I was standing front and center stage facing a small audience of strangers, my children, my husband, and my brother-in-law. 

I would probably have screamed with embarrassment if this wasn’t already a hollering contest.

I jokingly explained to the crowd, This is how I call my husband Blake.”

Then, I took a deep breath, cupped my hands around my mouth and hollered as loud as possible.


Everyone was laughing, and I think I even heard a few “Woo HOOOOS.”

This wasn’t so bad,” I thought to myself.

In that moment, I felt a little like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic movie when he said, “I’m the king of the world!”. 

stepping out of your comfort zone can make you feel like the king of the world

As I stood there, I had a brief flashback to my childhood that saddened me. I missed out on so much as a child because of one thing… the fear of stepping outside my comfort zone.

Why stepping outside of your comfort zone can be challenging but worth it

to get out of your comfort zone, do one thing everyday that scares you

As a child, I wasn’t afraid of anything concrete,  like falling off my bike, riding a scary roller coaster or crashing my dirt bike.

I feared what others would think of me, being humiliated or looking silly.

I was a  super shy kid as a result.

You can read more here; Why Am I So Boring? 10 signs you bore the hell out of everyone becoming more interesting.

Don’t get me wrong. Fear is a natural emotion that has helped humans survive through evolution.

Our modern brains are wired to seek safety and security, which is why we often prefer to stay within our comfort zones where things feel familiar, safe, and predictable.

But in the past, fear kept our hunting and gathering ancestors safe by warning them of possible dangers and threats in their surroundings. 

However, in modern times, our fears are usually related to social or psychological risks, not physical ones.

These psychological risks can include the following:

  • The fear of failure
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of humiliation
  • fear of making a mistake
  • fear of the unknown.

While these fears may not pose a direct threat to your physical safety, they’re still intimidating and can have the power to hold you back from taking risks and trying new things.

It’s important to recognize that fear doesn’t really disappear. While fear can be a helpful emotion, it’s gratifying to push past your fears, get out of your comfort zone, and explore new experiences, which can lead to personal growth, improved confidence, and self-discovery.

How to get out of your comfort zone?

get out of your comfort zone by screaming like a pig

The first step to getting out of your comfort zone is to simply try something new.

Doing scary things outside your comfort zone has a compound effect and gives you the courage and confidence to do it again and again.

Eleanor Roosevelt is usually credited with saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” 

It doesn’t have to be crazy wild. It can be anything from something you’ve always wanted to do but were too scared to try or something spontaneous, like when I decided to enter a hollering contest. 

You might be interested in reading: Bored Much? 101 Fun adventurous things to do for the unadventurous

Another approach to getting out of your comfort zone is to say yes more often.

For example, if someone asks you to do something new, instead of saying “No,” say “YES” to dancing, Karaoke, or talking to a stranger, then watch what happens and how it makes you feel. 

Be careful not to step too far outside your comfort zone because it can have the opposite effect.

The best way to leave your comfort zone is to gradually expand it and find the level of risk that leaves you feeling good. 

An Adventurous You = Fulfilled Life.

[YOU * (Novelty + Courage = Adventurous)] = [Life * (Success + Happiness + excitement= Fulfilment) ]

What will you do to crush your fears?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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