August 20th, 2017:
Day 1: Starting this Blog
Challenge: Accepting this project
What I am afraid of: The unknown, embarrassment throughout the blog, judgement, not being able to complete it everyday because lack of new ideas.
December 16th, 2017:
How it went:
Here I am 118 days later.
I don’t think you can fully understand what it’s like to scare yourself everyday until you actually do it. The first week was terrifying. Every challenge felt like a big deal and I was really uncomfortable and unsure what direction this blog was taking. About halfway through the semester I was at a major lack of ideas and I feared I wasn’t doing “scary” enough challenges. The challenges I did have written down I didn’t want to do because I was too scared (I eventually completed those challenges near the end). It was also midterms and I really didn’t have time to think of anything besides studying. After midterms, I started planning out my challenges, and I was able to get back into a rhythm.
Not everyday was easy. Actually, about 0 of the days were easy. But I knew that going into it, I knew it would be hard and the point was to push past my fears. That’s why even though I would stress a lot about my challenges I still did them. Because I knew, it the long run, it would benefit me. And it really has.
However, I had a lot of struggles while doing these challenges, because, while I write about my experience, I don’t always write about the amount of mental preparation that goes into everything. You don’t see me walking around the buildings, trying to talk myself into doing my daily challenge. You don’t see me unable to focus on my homework hours beforehand because I’m freaked out to do my scary thing of the day. You don’t see me asking my family and friends for scary ideas every other week (although they rarely helped me, haha). You don’t see the challenges I don’t do because I talked myself out of them and you don’t see me upset at myself because I didn’t do it. You don’t see me beating myself up once a week because I’m afraid my daily challenge wasn’t “scary” enough.
But you do see my progress in this blog. Challenges I talked myself out of in September I was able to do in December, fears I’ve had I’ve been overcoming (although it’s still a work in progress). I’m not perfect, and the wall I have built up is not completely torn down, but I’ve taken more steps towards being the me I want to be. There are now cracks in the wall.
Sometimes, when I tell my daily “scary” thing to others, they ask me, “What’s so scary about that?” For example, wearing my glasses around all day. Because to me, wearing my glasses all day to all my classes in public, is way out of my comfort zone considering I haven’t worn my glasses for any time longer than 2 hours ever before. Other people might not view that as a scary thing. Even as I write this it seems kind of silly. But what is scary to me, probably isn’t scary to others and vice versa. And I just have to be ok with that because everyone is different. These are my blogs and my challenges, and only I can judge what is scary to me. I think I’ve done a good job at being honest with myself. Sometimes people give me a scary thing to do. I think about it, and more often than not, I decide I’m not scared to do what they recommend. What they think is scary for me, I don’t think is scary for me.
Having to pinpoint exactly what I’m scared of in each challenge really made me realize how small some fears are. Many times I would know I was scared, but it can be difficult to say exactly why. By pinpointing what exactly I’m afraid of, I can try to work on it in a different and direct way.
While doing this blog, I’ve learned a lot about myself and others. Below is a short list of the lessons I’ve learned thanks to this blog.
- Little challenges with little meaning, creates habits for bigger challenges with bigger meanings. Here’s the thing, in the future I’m probably never going to ask a sub shop for a free cookie. I’m fine paying. However, in my life, and in my career, I will have to ask for other things. Asking for a free cookie got me a little bit more comfortable with rejection. It made me more able to ask for things. The little challenges I have been doing all semester, weren’t just to get me comfortable with that one thing, it was to get me used to the outcome. It was to get me used to asking for things and taking initiative. I won’t do planks in a dining hall in my career, or probably ever again, but it got me used to standing out. Approaching strangers and asking them questions got me comfortable with approaching people. If there’s one thing my career and internship strategies class taught me this semester it’s to really use those transferable skills to your advantage. And I now have a lot of transferable skills.
- After I do my scary thing, I get closer to breaking the fear I have around it. When I look back over my challenges, they don’t seem nearly as scary as they felt at the time. I was terrified to do my Free Hugs challenge, but now that I’ve done it once, I could do it again. Or volunteering at certain events, making phone calls, or even applying to on campus jobs. All those things terrified me the first time, but since I’ve done it once, I could do it again. And I have done it again with little to no fear. The point of this blog was to stretch my comfort zone a little bit each day, and I really have. A little bit each day adds up to big results.
- I’m not perfect and that’s okay. Not so sure I want to be perfect anyway. I wrote a whole post about perfectionism, and this is something I am still struggling with. Although I have gotten a lot better this semester. Often times, when I would do my “scary” thing of the day, I would be afraid of saying, or wearing, the wrong thing. I was afraid I wouldn’t be perfect enough. But after making the list of what a perfect person would be like in my reflection post, I realized, I don’t know if I want to be perfect. Being perfect is no fun. Being human is fun and humans make mistakes. They make a lot of mistakes. But they learn from those mistakes. I’d rather want to try something, fail, and learn a lesson, than never having tried at all.
- There’s so much more to college than getting all A’s. Last year, I was terrified to get anything under an A. Pretty sure I had a meltdown every time my grade reached an A- as I struggled to do every extra credit assignment to keep it at an A. This semester I got my first B+ since my sophomore year of high school. That’s 4 years without a B… And you know what? I’m okay with my B+. I really am. Because, I tried so hard in that course. It was my Biology plant class and if you’ve read through this blog, you’ll see how much stress my biology course caused me. And this blog only touches on some of the problems. I took the class for fun, and I’m really glad I did. I now have a huge appreciation for plants and wetlands. I think I’m ok with my B+, because I literally gave that class my all. Yes, I could have studied more, but I don’t think studying more would have helped. Because the questions I got wrong on all the exams, I just didn’t know. There was no textbook to the course, so that just made it even harder to study. But, also, compared to last year, things in my film life are going good. I got to take a film class which I enjoyed so much. I was in the top 10 of a film competition and I’m lined up to be a TA next year for my Media I professor. Honestly, those good things that happened to me had nothing to do with my grades. It had to do with my attitude and work ethic. I’ve heard that grades mean nothing after graduation, but it really took time to truly believe it.
- People are nice and want to help. I’ve asked a lot of strangers some strange questions on this blog. I always expect them to reject me, but I only got rejected a few times. Normally they look right at me, smile, and want to help! Honestly, people are generally good. I’ve gotten so much more comfortable approaching random people for no good reason thanks to this blog.
- The feeling of not doing something out out of fear is so much worse than being afraid. Whenever I didn’t do my scary thing of the day because I was too scared, I felt awful. Like, really bad. Because, while I’m terrified of doing things, the “scary” thing generally ends up being not as scary as I thought. Just take a deep breath and do it and I was always fine. In most cases, I felt so much better after overcoming my fear. Not doing something because I was too scared made me wonder what could have been. One of the quotes I think sums this up perfectly is by Jack Canfield, “Don’t worry about failure, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”
- Worry less, live more. I would be in a constant state of extreme stress if I worried about every challenge a week in advance. To cope with this, I’ve stopped stressing about things a week before. Now, it’s only a few days or even a few hours. I’ll keep on working to make it be no time at all. These challenges aren’t that time consuming, but I spend a lot of time worrying beforehand. But with less time worrying, I’m able to put my energy into something different, something productive. And I don’t work myself up as much beforehand as well.
- Sometimes, I got so caught up in the moment, that it’s hard to see how far I’ve actually come. A number of times I would stress about one challenge so much I lost sight of the bigger picture. I lost sight of my goals. I lost sight that the thing I was stressing over in the moment is something I wouldn’t have even considered doing a few months ago. See my drawing below to visually represent this.
- I still get scared. But I’m going to try really hard to not let fear stop me. The point of this blog was to lessen my fears of things and do things I might have talked myself out of otherwise. This blog didn’t eliminate my fears, but I hope, in the future, when there’s something I want to do, I won’t not do it out out of fear.
I stated in my prologue that my goals were to be more outgoing and more likely to try new things where I don’t know other people. I have done things I wouldn’t normally do, and I have tried a lot of new things that I might have talked myself out of if it wasn’t for this blog.
Some people have asked me if I’m glad I did this blog. It’s a tricky question, because I purposefully made myself uncomfortable which was difficult. I really don’t like being uncomfortable so that was hard. However, I’m not sure where I would be if I didn’t do this blog. Doing this blog felt natural, it felt like something I knew I had to do. Because even though it was hard, it just felt right. Because I want to be the confident person I’m meant to be and I knew this blog would be the way to do that.
Thank you everyone for all of your support these past few months. 118 days goes by faster than you think. Check out Day 118 to see what’s next for me. And go do something scary; push yourself a little bit everyday and see where you end up. Why not? What are you afraid of?