Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, US diplomat & reformer (1884-1962)
I’m the furthest thing from an adrenaline junkie you will ever meet. I don’t like jumping off of cliffs into the ocean. I don’t like going really fast. I am the girl that will watch everyone’s and babysit the kids under 48” tall, while the rest of them go and ride some crazy, heart-stopping roller coaster. I don’t invest in the stock market. I don’t even really like gambling in Las Vegas. Generally, I lead a pretty low-risk life. But I woke up this morning with this quote in mind. I’d read it somewhere recently, and I couldn’t help but ask myself, am I taking enough risks in my life to grow?
The idea of doing something every day that scares me, well…scares me. Taking risks requires cojones, chutzpah, moxie, for one thing – and a lot of practice. But, if we keep doing the same things that we already know, we lessen our willingness to be daring and different. I’m not encouraging taking stupid risks, but what I am advocating is taking a giant step outside of our comfort zones in an effort to make that zone just a little bit bigger.
You cannot deny the confidence boost that you get every time you do something that you didn’t think you could do. I remember the first time I’d ever gone snowboarding. Getting off the lift was challenging enough. That hill felt enormous and endless. There was a lot of falling involved. And some tears. When I finally got to the bottom of the hill, I was exhausted. But damn, I was proud that I actually did it. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve done it since then, though. I’ve decided that I’m not a snowboarder.)
My biggest sense of physical and mental accomplishment came from finishing the Marin Half Marathon in 2009. I ran cross country in high school, and I sucked at it – I am most definitely not built for running. In spite of myself, I signed up for this half marathon training program and subsequently spent the next couple of months running. Two miles. Four miles. Five miles. Eight miles. Ten miles. When the time came to tackle 13.1 miles, it still felt like pure torture (and coincidentally, also involved an endless hill and some tears). But crossing the finish was AMAZING. Finishing the race was a metaphor for everything else going forward – there was a lot of work involved, there were times when I wanted to give up, but I pushed through and got past that feeling of “I really suck at _____ so why should I even bother?”. (Those examples are more extreme instances of “something that scares me” – other things include: being photographed, blind dates, having a conversation in Spanish, wearing skirts, spin class, flying solo, spontaneous road trips, having “the talk” with a guy.)
I’m not suggesting that you start base jumping off the Transamerica Building or anything, but I am challenging you to do something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that causes you a mild sensation of panic or anxiety. Ask that cute guy out on a date. Try a fitness class that is completely out of your comfort zone. Wear a color you wouldn’t normally wear. Try a new food. Say “yes” when you normally say “no” (I’m doing this with social events, and have met so many amazing people in the process!). You may find a sense of freedom that you never knew before, just by pushing yourself to take a risk.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? How did you get over your fear? What are you going to challenge yourself with today? Tell us in the comments below.