In the past couple of years, I have resolved to do things that scare me. And whilst I haven’t done absolutely everything that ‘scares me’, I have faced up to a lot more difficult situations, pushed myself to open up to many more people and sent messages that have led to some great opportunities. That’s why I urge you to do what scares you in life!
Leaving the comfort zone
What do I define as doing scary things?
I’d say, putting oneself into uncomfortable situations. Whatever they may be…
Comfort is easy. Shaking things up and making yourself uneasy can really test you and make you learn more about yourself. And the best part? It can lead to some great outcomes. Obviously, the outcome isn’t great every time. But when it does comes through, you’ll look back in disbelief and that scary situation might just seem like a very small part of the bigger picture.
By throwing yourself into something you find out what works and what doesn’t.
Last year I tried performing some of my very personal, original songs at an open mic night. It was terrifying (more so than when I’ve performed at open mics many year ago as a teenager). And there I learnt that I can’t perform my own songs if I am still tied up and invested in the story… and if I want to showcase them then I need someone else to sing my lyrics. It just took that step of booking a slot at an open mic and DOING that thing that scared me, in order to find that out.
Why did I choose to do what scares me?
This idea first started as a more achievable and abstract new year’s resolution for 2018.
My reason behind making this my NYE resolution?
I have dreams and ideas. Constantly they pop up like colourful balloons being filled with helium, in preparation to lift up the house from ‘Up’. But I know that I am more of a dreamer than a ‘doer’… or I was, at least. I wanted to challenge myself to change that. Putting dreams into action can be pretty scary but if you don’t do anything then they just remain in your head and will be taken to your deathbed, never to see the light of day. I don’t want that.
I am also an overthinker. Pushing myself to do things can sometimes avoid that spider web of a negative thought cycle, which I have found myself entangled in more often than not. The wondering about the unknown drives me crazy.
Through successive experiences of situations that catapulted me out of my comfort zone I have come to enjoy the nerves, the anticipation and the adrenaline that comes along with doing things that scare me. So much so that this is something I try to live by. Everyday, if I can.
What has come from confronting those uncomfortable situations?
I’ve learnt that hard conversations and hard questions are really important to life. It’s the only way that you can really get to the bottom of things. If something’s on your mind it’s better to let it out than let it go round and round in a washing machine of overthinking. At the time it’s rough, scary, uncomfortable, even emotionally draining, but ultimately it can help you to move forward. And that vulnerability can even build stronger, more trusting relationships with the people who you open up to.
Brené Brown is a big figure in opening up to vulnerability (check out her TED talk here).
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have” — Tim Ferriss
I have also learnt that I can do those physically scary things… even if it takes me three times as long as everyone else. Last year I jumped off a cliff for the first time ever. It was scary and I screamed until I hit the water but it was also pretty amazing. I felt like I was falling for the longest time and my heart was beating fast, wondering if it would end… and then all of sudden I was surrounded by the all-consuming ethereal quiet of the water… it’s a crazy feeling that you’ve gotta experience!
I didn’t just jump off a cliff once though — I jumped off the 5m cliff in Odyseus Caves (Croatia) twice and then I also jumped off a 5m cliff on Lang Tengah Island (Malaysia).
Every time I second guessed it. Every time I still did it.
The thing is that it doesn’t necessarily get any easier to do these things but you cement your resolve and build up a wall of situations that you can look back on to give you that faith and motivation to take a leap of faith into that next uncomfortable situation. You might even start to find enjoyment out of the anticipation and uneasiness.
If all else fails and you want to do something but you have a fear about it, why not ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”… I usually tell myself that everything will be alright in the end. That motto probably explains how laid back I appear to be.
Or, conversely, as my cousin said to me recently, “What’s the best outcome if you did it?”… Sometimes it could be better to think about the positive. That might just fire up the motivation needed to take that leap, send that message or make those life changes.
SO, what are you gonna do that scares you?