It's easy to feel that exploring something new is expensive, intimidating, or time consuming. Often it will be. But if you want a small taste of something with little more than the cost of time, you can always volunteer.
The other week I decided to volunteer at the Spartan Race in Midway, UT. Normally if I were running such an event, I'd be focused on doing my best in the run. As a volunteer, I saw a completely different side of the same event (and got a free future race, too). It was hectic at first to explain the rules of the obstacle I was running but soon I got comfortable with it and got to have fun helping all these great athletes out.
At my station, participants had to lift sand bags up into the air using a rope then bring them gently down. It’s called the Hercules Hoist because the bags weigh quite a bit. People could work together but have to lift it one time each per person.
Anyway, aside from the technical details, volunteering was hard work but made me excited to participate in future Spartan Races. It also gave me a good glimpse into what sort of physical demands the course might expect from competitors.
There are many other fields where volunteering is the easy way to both get a foot in the door and get a taste for what might be expected. Editing is another great example. By volunteering, I was able to gain great experience at internships and student-run magazines.
Many great events, hobbies, and skills all need volunteers. Marathons need people to help take care of the runners with things like water stations. Local zoos, aviaries, and nature centers often rely on volunteers much more than paid staff.
So, if you’re curious about something, volunteering is often the easiest way to try it out and make new friends that will help you continue to develop your interests in new directions.