As a kid I used to be terrified of shots, mainly because they hurt.
Now, I’m willing to get needles repeatedly jammed into my skin at high speeds for hours on end in the name of body art.
Nothing about the level of pain really changed. It’s still tiny needles piercing flesh, but the context and my relationship to the experience changed.
In one context I was scared, nervous, and unenrolled in the decision. In the other, I had agency, knowledge, and wanted to do it.
Whether we’re talking physical pain (getting immunized, tattoos, exercising) or mental pain (performing stand-up comedy, applying for a job, cold calling), we can decide whether or not we think the pain will be worth the gain.
But it’s really hard to evaluate how painful something is without trying it first.