You know when you see something you'd like to do, but it scares you?
Like thinking about skydiving or asking someone out, and you get an equal mix of fear and excitement in your stomach.
You need to learn to love that feeling, because it's telling you that you need to do it!
I was shy as a teenager and very scared of embarrassing myself, which meant that I missed out on a lot. So what I started doing was not letting myself have time to think about it, or imagining what it would be like, or worrying about what would happen if I did it -- I just went for it. I didn't give myself a chance to talk myself out of it.
Have you seen the movie We Bought a Zoo? This quote really says it all:
Doing this has given me so many amazing experiences and memories. Instead of regretting not doing things, I can now look back and remember things like:
And believe me, it was not easy being brave enough to do some of these things! But life is to be lived, and as long as you don't put your life in danger, who is it going to hurt? Only yourself when you're regretting missed opportunities.
This is when I went white water rafting in Sweden a few years ago. You can't tell from the picture, but I was absolutely terrified!
Start small and practice being brave
If you want your life to be more than what it is, YOU need to make a change! Things don't just happen because you want them to. (Believe me, I've tried that approach. It's not a successful one.)
It sounds amazing when you list things like that, and it was. But all those things happened because I started very small. I complimented a stranger on her dress, I befriended the new exchange student in our class, and I signed up for a winter triathlon in our school. Not to win, but just to do it.
The "bravery muscle" is like any muscle -- you can train it to be stronger. We are all on different levels, and different things are challenging for different people. And different periods in your life will have different things you have to be brave for!
Things I have challenged myself to do this year:
Photo by Arthur Poulin
How to get started with adventurous things
But Erika, you say. I don't have time or money to do any of these things.
Don't I know the feeling! But you know what you do?
You make time.
You save money.
Just like it takes time to be able to run a 10k or squat 100 lbs, dreams can take some time to accomplish. But it will take even longer if you never start! Make a plan and take time off work, save money from every paycheck (even if it's just $20!), and prepare in whatever way is necessary.
In the meantime, train your bravery muscle by completing smaller challenges in your day-to-day life. You never know what adventures you can have unless you give them a chance to find you!
7 practical tips on how to make adventure happen
1. Look on Groupon.com to find deals and inspiration
You can usually find everything from wine & paint nights and escape rooms to dance classes and fencing or pole dancing lessons.
2. Put money on the line
My social anxiety can sometimes keep me from going to things because I have nothing riding on not going. But if you buy a ticket to a race or dance or trip, you will lose money if you don't go! This is a very effective way of keeping yourself accountable and push yourself to do it.
Photo by Ibrahim Rifath
3. Team up with a friend or family member
A lot of the time we don't do things because we're afraid of doing it alone, of having no one to talk to. So recruit someone to go with you! Buy that two-for-one Groupon and keep each other accountable! We're usually less prone to disappoint a friend than ourselves.
Related article: How to make your friends a priority (plus free bucket list!)
4. Start saving money today
If you don't have money to just book a ticket and go, then some planning is required. Set up a separate savings account (most banks let you do this for free) or a jar in the kitchen and put $10 in there right now! Decide on a sum you will put in there from every paycheck and do it as soon as you get it, and add loose change or extra funds when/if you have it. Now you're actively working towards your goal and you'll know around what time you'll have saved up enough money for it!
Related article: Top 10 tips on how to travel with anxiety!
5. Think of how you want to remember this moment
Growing up I did a lot of things just to be able to casually say "Oh yeah, I did that" when I got back. Like cross country skiing to a lake 10k away in -20 degrees, or spontaneously doing a World Championship 300 meters knee-deep mud race in a borrowed T-shirt.
(Since our town is the only one doing it along with mud soccer, we can claim that title. ;) And I got the silver medal, btw!)
The point is, how do you want to tell this story? That you saw something cool but kept walking, or that you joined in and it was awesome? Do it for the bragging rights!
Related article: How to use photos and Instagram to make your life more adventurous!
6. Make it a routine
See if you can do it on a weekly basis -- is there a Wednesday night swing dance you can go to, or a Saturday morning hiking group? A language exchange on Mondays, or a Tuesday night Improv session? By having a set day every week there's less chance of avoiding to go, since it's now a habit. Plus, the more you do it the less scary it will be!
Related article: How to build new habits in 3 simple steps!
7. Make it a habit to challenge yourself
Like I said before, start with small "easy" things. Start a conversation with someone at the bus stop instead of looking at your phone, suggest your new idea at the work meeting, or make plans with someone you'd like to get to know better. By training your response to the butterfly "should I do it?" feeling to be "yes, I'm doing it!" it will help you face bigger fears later on and make them easier to tackle, because you have shown yourself that you can do it!
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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