I did my first ever Twitter poll and asked what people most wanted to read, and this post won! Welcome to 5 scary things that I’ve accomplished to date. Some of these are more physically challenging than others; all of them brought me some form of reward or valuable lesson about life. Let’s get into them!
Quick note: Tell me in the comments below something you conquered that frightened you, and what you learned from it!
- Karaoke on a cruise ship.
Summer of 2015, my family vacationed on our second Disney cruise. I’d seen the family karaoke lounge nights the first trip, and promised myself that if I ever boarded a Disney ship again, I’d partake. Well, here I was. That night, the lounge was lit by spotlights in the shape of flowers. The host running the sparsely populated event told us to go to the DJ booth with our song choice (there was a book of options, Disney and also classic songs). Fortunately, the groups that were there were few, and several had little kids. Everyone who sang had at least two performances. As people’s vocals left much to be desired, I felt more assured that mine wouldn’t be too much worse. Little girls of course chose “Let it Go” and other iconic princess ballads. I made up my mind to go to the booth and picked a Taylor Swift song.
So, yeah, allow me to say that God’s gifting on my life is not singing. It’s so much harder than everyone makes it look. And nerves play a bigger part than I expected. Ever record yourself and get a painful awakening when you play it back? Yeah, that was kind of like this. My dad did me the honor of recording my rendition of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and I never showed it to anyone besides my loving parents.
The benefit of trying karaoke was two-fold. One, I can say that I fulfilled my promise to myself. I didn’t shy away from something I wanted to do. I came out of my comfort zone and sang– on a cruise ship journeying to Alaska, for goodness’ sake. That, I will never regret. Secondly, I now know that if by chance, at a social gathering, the urge to throw caution to the wind and perform a solo ever seizes me, I have the experience to tell that urge to sit down and come back to its senses.
Here’s a picture of my awkward, cute little song. I also did “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin afterwards, because Aladdin is my childhood favorite and, let’s be honest, I had my first kid crush on the Genie.
2. Riding serious roller coasters.
San Antonio holds the wonderful Fiesta Texas grounds, with a mix of mild rides and more serious drops. When I was in late middle or early high school, my friends kept telling me that I had to ride the Superman. Here’s a lovely stock photo I don’t own.
I was like “No way, Jose.” But secretly, in my secret heart, I thought in a secret fashion, “Perhaps….someday, Jose.” There was one occasion I stood in line with my pals all the way to the front only to chicken out at the very end. It was all the factors: speed, drops, the unknown. I just wasn’t a remarkably courageous youth.
Then, one morning, after staying over at my friend Jessica’s, I distinctly remember eating our breakfast of Eggo pancake sticks or whatever those things are and thinking, “Today is the day. I will ride this thing today, no matter what.”
Well, I rode it. We got to that circle at the top and I asked her why she let me do it, but I rode it, and it was fun, and then I hacked up breakfast all over the inside of her mom’s minivan afterwards.
That first ride led to me absolutely loving roller coasters, and I went on more and more daunting ones. I’m not afraid of them anymore, and it’s all because a friend encouraged me to get out of my head and take a literal leap of faith.
3. Leading a high school Bible study.
I ran cross country for 5 years. In high school, I was going through a spiritual exploration of who I was. Junior year, I had a deep desire to lead a cross country team girls’ Bible study. I both wanted to share encouragement and truth with my teammates, and step into the role of team captain that I’d wanted for months.
Here’s a picture of my sweet teammates and I (I’m top left):
My intention was to grow my leadership skills and uplift the girls. This item on the list is probably the one that surprised and grew me most. In desiring to lead so much, and in trying my hand at it, I discovered that when I want to, I can come on really strong. Probably too strong. For instance, my first lunchtime session that comes to memory, I think I literally tried to deliver a sermon to the girls. It was less a discussion and more me talking at them.
When they would bring up other classmates during our times together, I’d remind them that gossip isn’t something honoring God or others. I was so focused on trying to control the atmosphere, and so inexperienced in leadership, that I tried to dictate more than I tried to learn about and appreciate my teammates.
There wasn’t a fallout or anything– I just became self-aware and humbled by looking back and reflecting on my shortcomings. God enables all of his children to lead in certain capacities. However, as far as leading big groups, I’ve discovered that I’m not the strongest candidate. I do really well with one-on-one interactions; and, when called on, I offer valuable advice. However, this experience really showed me the value in collaboration and “iron sharpening iron,” as God’s Word says. I believe it made me a better person, and a better encourager.
4. Submitting a poem for publication
As a writer with a dream to be published, I have a remarkable (probably shared with many writers) aversion to submitting my work for evaluation. Maybe it’s insecurity; maybe it’s not wanting to be qualitatively judged based on one snippet of writing; maybe it’s pride. Whatever the case, our poetry class required three submissions last semester. So, submit I did.
It wasn’t as scary as I thought. For one, most publications take months to reply. The rejection email I received from one wasn’t that emotionally jarring, to be honest. I was like, “Cool, my first rejection email. I’m initiated into the writer’s club now!” I pinned it to my whiteboard.
And then, I got this email from my university literary magazine:
Moral of the experience for me? Don’t worry about what people will think! Share your valuable words, your story, your voice. Use wisdom, and good timing, and get your dream out there! You have the power to make it happen, and leave the results up to God.
5. Traveling to another country/culture.
For two consecutive summers, my dad and I traveled to the South American country of Guyana for mission work. The first trip was based in the capital city, which was a bit of an adjustment; but we still had basic technology and resources. The summer of 2015, though, after our cruise, we returned to venture into the Guyanese interior. The village we stayed in is named Mabura. We led VBS, helped with construction, and shared love with the people.
For me, the concept of journeying to a place with no electricity, no running water, no AC, and numerous questionable insects was new, and intimidating. The kids I was going to be getting to know weren’t familiar at all with me. We were visitors, and there was no resources for a good hour or two nearby. So we were committed.
The nights and days were sweaty, humid, and full of more little kid hugs than I had expected. The village kids warmed up to me, and I to them. I was the youngest member of our team, so I spent the most time with them. These children brought out my uninhibited, silly side. The mornings were damp, crisp and beautiful in Mabura: the trees and black, glossy water created a beautiful panorama around us. The vast number of different birdsongs, we couldn’t even name. I had the privilege of baptizing a boy, having the girls play with my hair, and creating genuine bonds with people in the week we stayed. Totally worth it. And confidence-building, as well.
In all these situations, I was blessed when I stepped out of my comfort zone and embraced the new lessons that accompanied scary experiences. I am able to smile and feel thankful on the other side. Some choices we make aren’t the best; but there’s always an opportunity for benefit in them.
I hope this post encourages you to prayerfully push the limits of your abilities and comfort. I hope you cherish new challenges and joys this year, and realize that inhibition is just something that keeps the world from seeing your beautiful, valuable, God-created self. You can do new things. I believe in you.