Try Something New or Live in Fear?

Have you ever thrown caution to the wind and did something that scared the crap out of you? Did you regret it? Or did you find it to be an amazing, eye-opening experience? Better yet, how often would you be willing to do that?

I read an article today about the benefits of trying new things and facing fears.The article references a study that showed people are more afraid of trying something new with unknown outcomes than they are of doing something with known bad outcomes. What? That’s like saying we’d rather go to the same old restaurant that notoriously serves bad food than to try a brand new restaurant that no one has tried yet. I suppose with an active imagination, our fear of the unknown begins to escalate. I mean, geez, what if the new restaurant starts the next e.coli epidemic? Or is secretly funding a terrorist organization? Or (gasp) becomes our new favorite restaurant only to go out of business in six months? Best stick to soggy patty melts and Maxwell House coffee than take that kind of risk.

If you’re interested, you can find the article here.

In this article, the author, Alex Lickerman, has a list of things to remember before he starts something new. Unsurprisingly, the first thing is to remember that trying something new often requires courage because our biggest barrier tends to be fear. In my experience, generating courage requires me to deliberately override the natural instincts to play it safe, back off if nerves start firing, retreat when negative thoughts arise (and they will). But trying new things is a part of having an extraordinary, fulfilling life, a life that is not a string of identical days, or blocks of unmemorable weeks, or months or years stuck on repeat, doomed for repetition, an echo that just keeps on echoing.

I refuse to let that happen.

Now, I wouldn’t have joined the Air Force or flown to L.A. for a talent show (don’t get excited, I wasn’t born to be a singer), or rode The Intimidator at King’s Dominion, and I wouldn’t be reading my books out loud at the writer’s group or sending out queries for my manuscript or taking adult ballet classes (in a leotard and tights, no less) if I didn’t have a shred of courage. Trust me; it took quite a few drops of courage to do those things, to push past the fear of rejection, to push past the nerves that shook my fingers and gripped my throat, to jump on the train bound for adventure into the unknown, holding onto the back with eyes closed and sweaty palms and thinking about how easy and comfortable it would be to just let go. Sorry, I got a little dramatic there; with that kind of analogy, you’d think I was doing something more courageous than squeezing into tights for ballet class every week. But that’s also my point. I want more. I still see similar days and safe plans and the same shade of lipstick for fifteen years and repeat races on my running calendar and extremely comparable work days (repetitive chaos for 13 hours with no lunch most of the time), and I haven’t truly tested my limits and grasped for extraordinary, mind-blowing, unfathomable ideas in my writing. I still have too much fear.

In conclusion, every day I need to do something new, preferably something that scares the piss out of me, and it has to be more than using a cuss word in a blog.

But, shit, that’s a start.

What about you, readers? What is your experience with trying new things, or building up courage to step out of your comfort zone?

Inspired by the word of the day: Repress



This week, my youngest daughter (who just turned eight) told me that her music teacher got all the students at her school to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with the first graders. This made her cry. She cried because of happiness, because she remembered me singing that song with her, and because kids all singing together moves her to tears. I almost cried as she described the moment. She is truly a product of me and my emotional heart, the one that makes me cry at silly things like animal rescues on TV or the theme song to Jurassic Park (not kidding—the scene where Alan sees the dinosaurs for the first time? Get me a tissue).

Today, I thought I’d take an inventory of what I have shed tears over within the last couple of days.

–On the news, an elementary school surprised their school janitor on National Custodial Worker’s Day, luring him into a gym where he was expecting to clean up “an accident,” and instead walked into a crowd of kids offering heartfelt applause and thank you cards.


–On You Tube, I watched a children’s choir sing “When You Believe.” I’m sorry, but any children’s choir singing anything will make me cry.


–While having a discussion about the Titanic, my oldest got on her iPod and played only three notes of “My Heart Goes On” and I was done.


–My middle daughter and I started watching Stand By Me, one of my favorite pre-teen movies. As soon as the music played at the beginning, the knot formed in my throat.


–On Facebook, I learned that a lady is collecting Tonka trucks for her brother who has cerebral palsy. I teared up, but the only reason I didn’t actually cry is because I didn’t turn on the music. If I would have heard music, I would have cried.


I see the trend of music moving me to tears. While I am not a musician, I guess I respond to music emotionally. This is why I sometimes choose songs to listen to when writing a scene or establishing a mood. And I also decided that if any of my books are ever made into a movie, I want the last song to make people cry. Gee, I should probably just end my books with a children’s choir. That’ll work for me.

Readers, what moves you to tears? Do you cry easily?