I was strolling through a bookstore, coffee in hand, when I stumbled across a small peculiar book called Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You by Robie Rogge. My interest was immediately piqued, so I read the back cover:
“Each day is an opportunity to perform one small act of bravery; singing out loud, asking for help, admitting a mistake, pitching an idea, accepting a compliment, changing your hair, going for the prize, failing spectacularly and trying again. This journal contains a year’s worth of fear-facing prompts and mottos of encouragement.”
Well, I thought, didn’t that sound just great! I am currently at a stage of my life, like most other college students, where self-growth and finding myself are two of my highest priorities. So, naturally, this book seemed like the best way to push me out of my comfort zone. However, I wasn’t about to drop $20 on the book after last week’s expenditures left me $10 in my checking account… So I settled on creating my own “scary challenges” each day, tailored to me.
Now, when I first began, I made a list. That was a mistake. The very first thing I wrote down was “dance in public” and the very last thing I wrote down was “get a tattoo” which I knew I was never going to do. I found that it was more beneficial to go throughout the day with the challenge in mind, and the opportunity will present itself.
The first day I was sitting in my Fiction Writing class as students read their short stories they had written in the 30 minutes the professor had given us. I never usually volunteer to read my writing unless I think it’s perfect, but this time I raised my hand and read my piece and people actually liked it! I got some helpful feedback on my peace and felt like I was truly participating in the class. I felt a rush of adrenaline after doing this and felt more confident in participating in the future. This may be a very small act to some people but it was a large feat for me. After I did this, my body craved more.
Another “scary” task I managed to complete was walking around a mental hospital. Bear with me. So, my hometown, Norfolk, MA, is near an old mental hospital called Medfield State Hospital. It has been shut down since 2003 and has since turned into a beautiful and historic property that is open to the public to walk around in with their children and dogs. Movies such as Shutter Island and the new X-Men movie were filmed here as well!
Mental hospitals have always freaked me out. Long story short, my greatest fear is not having control over your mind so being in a place where people have lost their minds or were on the verge of losing their minds have always made me uneasy. When my friend Isabel suggested we walk our dogs there, I was not too psyched, but I said you know what Emma, just go, so I did.
It turned out to be a really cool experience. We explored the exterior of the old brick buildings that were not being overtaken by vines and trees, which would be lush greenery come springtime. We also discovered a hill that overlooked a beautiful hidden lake at the back of the grounds. The coolest thing for me was seeing the old faded signs that had the names of the buildings on them such as “Mess Hall” and “Warden’s Office.” Overall, I wasn’t too creeped out when I realized the old hospital was just a bunch of bricks and concrete. Things are only really scary when you make them scary.
The last task that I will share is when I posted a video of myself singing online. Now, I am a person who hates to sing in front of people. I even used to get quiet around my ex and my best friend of 12 years.
This was actually a two-part challenge. In the first part, I bought a ukelele off of Amazon for around $60 and learned to play a few simple chords for the song “Riptide” by Vance Joy. I had always wanted to learn how to play the ukulele, but never really pushed myself to do so. Second, I recorded myself singing “Riptide” while playing it on the ukulele and I posted the video on Snapchat.
I immediately began squirming after the video was up and it got its first view. After a few minutes, my friends started commenting on it and praising me; I couldn’t believe it! I had never felt so exposed yet so confident before in quite some time.
In the end, I learned that it’s not about getting tattoos or walking through the Boston Common by yourself at 2 a.m. that need to be done in order to scare you. Your scary tasks every day can be something as small as raising your hand in class. Anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone (in a self-growth way) will suffice. If you keep this thought in mind in your day-to-day life, you will begin to see changes in yourself and a new kind of self-confidence and growth that you didn’t see before… At least I did! I also learned you don’t need to spend $20 on a book to challenge yourself in life… Although I thank Robie Rogge for the idea.