Don't be skurrd

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Driving to work every morning, I listen to quite the little mishmash of music, contests, and traffic reports. There are six local radio stations preset in my car and during the 20-plus minute commute, I mostly tune out the jibber-jabber of the morning hosts and skip around a lot to avoid having to hear Love The Way You Lie or Airplanes or anything by Nickelback. (Good luck. At least once every morning I'm frantically scrabbling at the preset buttons trying to avoid Rihanna's whining or Chad Kroeger sounding like an asshole while screaming "NO! NO!" and completely forgetting I'm operating a motorized vehicle).

Anyway, this morning one particular nugget caught my attention: tomorrow is National Face Your Fears Day, a day dedicated to identifying our fears, taking steps to conquer them, and celebrating the changes. HALLELUIAH!

I don't consider myself to be scared of much. I have the usual phobias: spiders, clowns, fire. I'm scared of owls because they can turn their heads all around and they have big claws. I'm afraid of tanning beds, not just because of goodies like skin cancer and germs on the glass but because I'm terrified of getting trapped inside one, coffin-style, like in I Know What You Did Last Summer, and baking to death. I'm scared of getting stabbed or shot or robbed. Maybe I am scared of everything. But none of those fears is the crippling kind. None of them interferes with my daily life or holds me back. Sure, I stay out of tanning salons, I avoid circuses, I don't light myself on fire or roam around in dangerous neighbourhoods picking fights with sketchy-looking hooligans. Problem solved.

The fear that holds me back most, that effs with my life plans on a semi-regular basis, is fear of failure. That sounds pretty generic, but it sums things up.

I don't invite my friends over for dinner because won't like what I cook. Or they might claim to have other plans and say no - and how will I know if they actually have other plans, or they just don't want to come over?

I don't buy supplies to make jewelry (something I've been curious about trying for a while) because it's going to look like something a 7-year-old threw together during art class.

I don't sign up to run in a race because I won't be one of the top finishers. I might actually be among the slowest group.

Taking classes, making friends, experimenting with a new hairstyle, pursuing freelance writing opportunities - these are all things I end up not trying because I'm scared of the unknown and assuming I'm going to fail.

So tomorrow, on National Face Your Fears Day, I'm going to do three things that scare me. Three things that truly make me uncomfortable - not watching a video of owls on YouTube (omg creepy) or heading down to Skin Cancer Emporium to soak up some faux-rays. Three things that genuinely put me out of my comfort zone.

I'm not sure what they are yet but I have a few ideas. I'll blog about them here later in the week, whether they were glowing successes or raging failures.

What are you afraid of?

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  1. I can completely understand the fear about signing up to run a race. I woke up 2 years ago with a bright idea to run the annual Thanksgiving Day Road Race. 4.78 miles of running and I never ran more than a softball diamond in my life. Good plan! I did it, and finished NOWHERE near the winner, but I was SO proud of myself. Since then I've signed up to for MANY 5K's and still have yet to come close to winning... or placing in the top half for that matter. BUT I found that if I turned my fear of failure into a success, it ended up being one of my biggest loves. I found success in actually FINISHING a race, nevermind what my actual time was. As long as I improved each time, even by a few seconds, I felt better and proud of myself.

    You should give it a whirl - I got my cousins all into it and it's so much fun. =) Not to mention you get t-shirts when you sign up a lot of the time. My t-shirt supply is INSANE now!

  2. I love that there's a day for this! This has been my whole mentality behind the "26 before 26". Life SHOULD be lived without fear!

  3. Everyone has a fear of failure no matter if they want to admit it or not

    It's just if they can swallow the fear and pretend to be confident to fake it to the end, it makes it all worthwhile...

  4. Jenilee - I forgot about the t-shirts! Free clothes? Sign me up.

    Emily Jane - I actually thought of you when I heard about the day since you've made such an effort to live fearlessly over the past several months. Quite an inspiration, miss!

    Mara - thanks! hoping the baby steps are just the beginning!

  5. FB - you're right...fake it till you make it :)

  6. Could this be more timely? I've been talking a lot about my fears lately. I'm afraid of a gazillion things. But my biggest fear, seriously, is of walking up to a stranger and introducing myself. Could. Never. Do. It.

    It actually took me years before I was even able to comment on someone's blog. How sad is that?

    I think it's awesome, this whole national day. Maybe your baby steps will inspire me!

  7. Three things.

    1. "Airplanes" is one of the worst songs that's been recorded/released in the past 15 years. Fact. Worse than "Mambo #5".

    2. I have the same thing about cooking for other people. I hosted a lil' Thanksgiving thing and kept asking everyone "are you SURE the broccoli salad is OK? You're SURE, now?"

    3. I live in fear of accidentally eating spiders in my sleep (tell me that's an urban myth!!), getting pushed in front of an oncoming subway by a random crazy person and evil clowns coming out of the toilet. Luckily, I don't think of these things on a regular basis, otherwise I'd never be able to sleep, take transit or pee.

  8. I haaaaaate Airplanes. And I have the same subway fear every time I'm in a city with a subway system. I keep my back against the wall until the train has stopped. Paranoid, yes, but I haven't been run over by a subway train, so it's working!

  9. Oh my gosh I am TERRIFIED of owls now. And clowns, but I've always hated clowns.