I Did One Thing Every Day That Scared Me, and Here’s How It Went

published Oct 22, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez

I would call myself a pretty brave person. I’ve traveled to more than a few countries alone, quit a job in NYC to be an au pair in Italy, and regularly put myself out there online. But just like everyone else, there are certain fears I have that I just can’t seem to shake.

With October being risk month, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my oh-so-cozy comfort zone and do one thing that scares me every day for a week. 

When I was brainstorming a list of fearful things I could do, I realized that most of them involve connecting with others in a vulnerable way. For me, doing things alone is easy, but saying hello to a cute stranger? Forget about it. Asking others what they genuinely think about me? Nope. Public speaking? HA! Conquering these fears are some of my biggest desires, so follow along as I put myself out there and get risky for a week.

Day 1: Public speaking 

According to multiple studies (and Jerry Seinfeld), public speaking is one of the most popular fears Americans have. In fact, we fear public speaking more than we fear death—yikes. I am one of those Americans, so I kicked off this challenge with a pre-scheduled presentation that I’ve been dreading for months.

The presentation was at 9 a.m. at a country club in Beverly Hills in a room full of 60 people that included marketers, creatives and executives all from the same client. 

To say I was nervous is an understatement. My palms were clammy, I kept anxiously checking my makeup and hair, and repeated affirmations in my head to calm myself down. 

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

I’ve spoken in front of crowds many times before. But it’s never been voluntarily, and definitely not in front of this many people. One of my goals this year is to become more comfortable with it, so I’ve been raising my hand more at work when opportunities come up. 

I was sweating bricks, but I did my best. I made a few jokes, pitched a few really cool and specific, new ways they could use our product (they loved these!), and made sure to let them know I’d get back to them when I couldn’t answer a question.

The next day, my manager sent me a ping and said he heard really good feedback about my presentation! Someone else from my company happened to be in the audience and told my boss, “she did really well. Anayo was funny, seemed knowledgeable, and knew when to push back.” Even better? I got an email from my teammate who managed the account and the client is going to implement the exact example I used during my presentation. Yes! 

Day 2: Singing (in front of actual people)

This fear is weird for me because I actually love to sing. When I’m home alone or with close friends and family, you can usually catch me singing some random tune—just not in front of strangers. 

To face this, I figured karaoke would be fun and help me get over this in a low stakes environment where its guaranteed almost everyone is going to suck just as much as me. I’ve done karaoke a handful of times, but it’s always been in a private room with friends. This time, I took it to the main stage—and the whole of San Francisco that happened to be at Pandora karaoke bar that night. 

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

I chose a classic: “Toxic,” by the queen, Ms. Britney Spears. The crowd was nice, but seeing everyone intently looking at me made me feel that all too familiar clammy feeling. 

Once the lyrics appeared on the screen, I activated. I sang, I danced, and even healthily carried some notes. Like Blue Ivy singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” I surprisingly couldn’t wait to do it again and signed up to do two more songs. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to take on Madison Square Garden, but this one wasn’t as scary as I assumed. 

Day 3: Statues 

This is the day I dreaded the most.

One of my weirdest and worst fears is of statues. Specifically, gigantic human statues. It all started during my senior year of college during one late night in the art building occupied by just me and a massive, freaky papier-mâché human statue that I needed to pass in order to exit the building. Ever since then I’ve avoided any and all sculptured humans. 

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

I put this off all the way until the evening, which was brilliant (ominous statues at night? Great idea!). There is a memorial park in downtown Oakland full of massively scary statues that I’ve been avoiding for years. Today was the day I would confront them. 

As I walked up, my stomach fell. The statues were HUGE. I imagined the heads peeling out of their spots like snakes and blocking my path. I imagined the gigantic head of Martin Luther King Jr. opening his eyes to peer at me. But, alas, none of that happened. In fact, after about 6 minutes of skepticism I started to… be at peace? I’m sure the fact that they are renderings of some of the world’s most peaceful and influential leaders helped. And there were way too many people there for them to coordinate an attack on just me.

Day 4: Scary movie 

Horror movies and I are not friends. I don’t watch them, and no joke, the last one I remember watching on purpose was “The Ring” in 2002. So, I invited a couple of my friends over for a scary movie night. I googled “scariest movie on Netflix right now” and “The Conjuring” popped up. There were possessed children, exorcisms, and violence—a perfect mix of all the things I hate to see. 

We screamed, we jumped, and I tried my best to watch everything but I definitely cheated and covered my eyes during a few scenes. There was no way I could’ve watched that alone (does anyone watch scary movies alone? Genuine question). Thankfully, one of my friends slept over so there were no nightmares over here, but my poor other friend who ended up going home to her silent, dark house was so freaked out that she never fell asleep that night. 

Day 5: Pitching a vulnerable personal essay 

As a freelance writer, pitching is something I do fairly regularly. But sometimes there are story ideas I have that if I were to write them, it would leave me vulnerable and open to the public to judge me. While it’s risky to put yourself out there online in this way, I do it because, in the paraphrased words of the late Toni Morrison, “if there is a story you want to read that hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

I’ve had a story idea for a while that deals with women and self-esteem, and today was the day I was going to pitch it. I usually reach out to a publication who I think is the ideal fit first, and then if I don’t hear back I’ll shop the piece elsewhere. I wrote up what I felt was a good pitch but was nervous to hit send right away, so instead I opted to schedule it for a few days later. Fingers crossed—you may see it on the interwebs soon! 

Day 6: Dying my hair (temporarily) blue 

As colorful as my wardrobe can be, I’m actually surprised at myself that I’ve never worn any bright colors in  my hair. The ever-so dramatic Jet Black is my go to and her sister, Natural Black, is a close second when I wear hair extensions. But today there was a conference I was attending and in the spirit of creativity and fearlessness, I decided that I’d try temporarily coloring my natural hair blue.

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

I used L’oreal Colorista hair spray and attempted to saturate my full head with the spray. But the keyword here is attempted, because after I endlessly sprayed my whole head it still looked like it was barely there. However when I got to the conference EVERYONE was staring at my hair, in a good way! I got a ton of compliments on my “indigo look” and when I stepped outside in the sun it was deep and vibrant. I would definitely do this one again.

Day 7: Talk to 10 random people 

This technically happened on the same day as Day 6, (yes, I was bold and did two risky things in one day!).

I wanted to make sure I networked and met as many cool people as possible at this conference so I came up with a strategic icebreaker: come up with a random business problem, find people with smiling faces who look open and are wearing my favorite color (green), tell them the business problem, and then brainstorm possible solutions together.

The conference organizers already provided cue cards with fears to tackle (what a coincidence!) and I remixed it. The business problem I made up was, “How can minorities in media can get better access to each other?” It seemed simple enough and something everyone there would have an opinion on. People ended up being really engaged and I made some new contacts! One woman was so excited to talk about this that she asked if we could keep in touch to collaborate on finding solutions.

Credit: Anayo Awuzie

After a week of trying scary things, I realized that fear is subjective, and although some of us may share similar ones, it’s almost guaranteed that the things I chose that terrified me may not register as remotely significant for someone else.

In my never-ending quest to blossom into the confident, super boss babe that I was meant to be, I’m pretty pleased with how much tackling something scary every day helped positively impact how I feel about myself. Even though I still get nervous before presentations, and I probably won’t watch a scary movie for another 10 years, this week definitely helped me open up more, and I’m ready to keep the scaries coming.