Making Friends as an Adult is Super Hard… Here’s How to Get it Right
Stars of MTV’s The Challenge give us their best advice on how to win friends, and keep them.
You’ve seen the rivalries, the successes, and the failures played out on-screen for 38-seasons now. MTV’s long-running competition show The Challenge, pits contestants against one another in various extreme challenges, to truly test their fortitude and perseverance.
But, in true reality-show style, the show wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without the antics and cast interactions outside of the actual challenges.
Originally developed as a spin-off of The Real World known as Road Rules, the most recent season focuses on testing the “strength of family, friendship and love” — and this time, producers upped the ante by pairing cast members with their own ‘real-life’ allies. These included best friends, current partners, and yes, even exes.
It’s not hard to figure out that when you put a group of people together under tense circumstances, sparks will fly — sometimes good, sometimes bad. That’s the crux of the new book How to Win at the Challenge and Life: A Champion’s Guide to Eliminating Obstacles, Winning Friends and Making that Money (MTV Entertainment Books, 2022).
While stars of the show have had their physical, emotional and mental endurance put to the ultimate test, they have oftentimes come out stronger — and with plenty of advice to give.
It’s no doubt, making (and keeping) friendships as an adult is super hard. We asked them to pull their best advice from the book on how we can all become champions in our own interpersonal relationships. Here’s what they had to say.
Be yourself, no matter how scary it feels.
Tyler Duckworth has competed on multiple seasons of the show, so he knows how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone.
“I’ve made amazing friends and I was able to be vulnerable and fully be me for the first time on TV,” Duckworth wrote. “I’m doing things that terrify me and it keeps on getting better, so maybe that’s the secret—for both The Challenge and life. It’s a lot simpler than you think.”
Making friends may look effortless, but it’s actually hard work.
Two-time champ Yes Duffy knows a thing or two about the importance of those interpersonal relationship, both on-screen, and off.
“I [didn’t] have [previous] social ties with the group. I knew I had to make friends fast, and it’s not in my nature to do that.” Before he left for Argentina, his wife gave him a piece of crucial advice.
“She was like, ‘Usually it takes weeks for people to get to know you, so you better speed up and get to know people right away. Don’t be shy, say what’s on your mind, and just be active,'” Duffy recalls. “You don’t see it much on the show, but I was extremely active the whole time getting to know people, helping people, and carving my identity within the group. It was the most exhausting, difficult month of my life. Some people call it sitting in the background or skating by, but for me, it felt like work the whole time.”
Finding your people takes trial and error, so don’t give up.
Perseverance goes beyond just those physical challenges, explains two-time winner Jodi Weatherton.
“It’s scary to be vulnerable and put yourself out there like that, knowing there’s a chance you could fail,” she says in the book. “It took me a long time to get to that point where I didn’t just go, ‘this is not my thing,’ and walk away. No, I rallied … Persevering even when things get hard is when you find the best stuff.”
Rejection stings, but being untrue to yourself to avoid it is worse.
Facing the possibility of rejection head-on, is key, says contestant Alton Williams.
“I’ve had the horrible experience of having the whole house go against me, which I think was a great experience, actually,” Williams says in the book. “Most people’s biggest fear is to be unliked, and they’ll do ridiculous things for a lifetime to try not to experience that.”
Sometimes all you need to do is get out of your own way.
Veronica Portillo says sometimes it’s not them, it’s you.
“I left Road Rules with a pretty sour taste in my mouth—and a lot of it was my own fault—but I didn’t want to end my time like that,” she says. “I made myself go on The Challenge because I wanted to have a positive experience and rewrite my story.”
Portillo walked away that season a little bit richer and with a brand-new car, but more importantly with a new level of self-confidence she never expected. “I learned I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for, and that fear is just in the mind and that you could be your own biggest obstacle,” she says.