When I decided I was going to do one thing every day that scared me for a whole month, I’d already gone skydiving. I’d already traveled through another country on my own. I’d slept in a haunted house for a night and I’d eaten termites alive in the rainforest.
Needless to say, I’d already had those big, in-your-face, makes-you-wanna-puke-or-scream-or-laugh-or-do-it-again moments. This challenge wasn’t about that.
It wasn’t about doing dangerous stunts.
It was about pushing myself emotionally, relationally, and personally.
If you’ve spent a bit of time around here you might know that I don’t need motivating to put my physical life in danger. I find that stuff exhilarating, even if it does make my stomach churn.
But those scary interpersonal or individual things? Don’t mind me. I’ll just be hiding behind this giant rock.
So the month I decided I was going to do one thing every day that scared me, I knew I’d be doing a lot of opening up to people, trusting people, and loving people when they hurt me. And I was a bit daunted.
But I was also secretly thrilled at the thought of what I’d learn along the way.
The Scary Stuff: What I Did To Complete The Challenge
I’m not going to post everything I did each day of the challenge, because:
- That would be long.
- That would be embarrassing because one of them was ordering something new off the menu that I’d never ordered before and like, how the hell was that so scary for me? Because WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT OKAY, GIVE ME A BREAK.
- Some of the things I did involve others and are a bit too personal for this very public forum that any of my employers could find at any time (hi, current and future bosses!).
But I will give you a few snippets of what I did during the month. I think you’ll realize preeetty quickly that they point to a general theme.
Some of the things I did:
- I took myself out on a date. Alone. And I stayed my ground when people stared.
- I opened up to someone. I did this in a moment when it would have felt safer to avoid getting real about a struggle I was going through. In fact, I did this a few times during the month because it kept coming up.
- I chose to set a firm boundary with someone who was crossing a line. Even though I was afraid to take up that much space, and I wasn’t sure I deserved the boundary I was setting, I knew that was just insecurity getting in the way of my personhood.
- I decided to love someone despite the fact that it was possible I’d get hurt. Yo, loving people and being open to rejection is haaaaard.
- I sent poems to journals. This is something I haven’t done in the past when fear of rejection kept me from hitting “submit.”
- I believed I could do something that logic told me I couldn’t do. And I actually was able to accomplish it! Take that, haters I don’t have.
- I accepted myself during a time when I felt insecure. It felt really good.
- I faced my fear of spiders. I have an irrational fear of spiders being in my shoes before I put them on and I always check them prior to slipping a foot in, but this month I tried my very best to not be totally weird about spiders when I was just trying to get dressed. But it was hard. Because spiders are probably the most frightening thing of all, and if you disagree you’re wrong.
Maybe you look at this list and you’re like, “Pshh. Amanda, you’re a wimp. This stuff is easy-peasy and not scary at all.”
To you I say, bravo! I wish my life was as together as yours. One day I’ll get there, but for now I’m focusing on one step at a time.
And this month was just one such step towards making a better me.
The Lessons: What I Discovered About Life And Myself
The purpose of this whole thing was to learn, right? Nobody in their right mind just does one thing that scares them every day for a month without some kind of motive behind it.
And my motive was to push myself. I wanted to expand beyond my safe zone.
I wanted to get outside what was comfortable and live the sort of dangerous life where I wasn’t only bungee jumping from cliffs and street performing, but also putting myself out there, forming relationships, and loving myself even when it seemed like a vulnerable thing to do.
And I think I did it, y’all. I think I accomplished the goal. And I learned a bit along the way.
I learned that most of my fears revolve around rejection.
Why was it so scary for me to open up to people I trusted? Why was it so hard to send my poems to publishers?
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted. I was terrified that when I showed who I was on the inside, through conversation or art, I’d be told I wasn’t good enough.
And I found that when I decided to go out on that limb and let folks in, I wasn’t even disappointed. I was always welcomed with open arms.
I learned that some of my fears have to do with loving myself.
When insecurities rose up and my mind was plagued with an internal dialogue of negativity, it was hard to accept myself with love.
And the world has told us that, right? For many of us, society has said we don’t look right, we don’t act right, and we aren’t able to do big things and reach big goals.
When the world hasn’t always loved us well, we have trouble loving ourselves well too. Because what if we’re wrong in choosing to accept ourselves as we are?
Still, in those moments when I did pick self-love, I found freedom. I found peace. More to come on this in future blog posts, friends. But for now I’ll leave it at that.
I learned that some of my fears are totally irrational.
Fear of rejection isn’t irrational. It could happen. Fear of loving ourselves isn’t irrational. We’ve been told we don’t deserve love.
But fear of spiders in my shoes? Fear of ordering the wrong thing at the restaurant?
RIDICULOUS. I’m a therapist so I think it would be safe for me to say I could probably qualify for some kind of diagnosis here. I just haven’t been caught yet. 😉
The Rewards: What I Gained From This Challenge
I gathered so much from this experiment. Even though it was hard sometimes and I had to consciously push myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, the benefits I reaped were so, so worth it.
It’s not that I’m not afraid of things anymore. I still shrink back at the thought of vulnerability.
But I know I can do it. And I know that it’s worth it.
During this challenge, I became closer to people around me. I developed better, more trusting relationships with folks who had been acquaintances before. I learned a small piece of how to love myself and that I deserved to advocate for myself.
And I learned that no, there are no spiders in my shoes.
Overall, I learned that most risks are worth it. Risks are part of what make life beautiful, adventurous, and full. That’s something I can get behind.
What’s something personal or interpersonal that scares you? Do you have any irrational fears? Would you ever do a challenge like this one or have you done one in the past? Tell me about it!