As someone who is a risk-taker and believes one should live life fully, I am not invincible to the emotion of fear. Therefore I created a challenge that I called #NoFearOctober where once a week I faced a personal fear inspired by Michelle Poler’s 100 Days Without Fear project.
Full Name: Samantha Quesada
City: New York
In total, I faced 6 fears:
It took a bit of planning on how I should approach this fear. When I was reflecting on past experiences that made me feel lonely, a scenario came up. I remembered that as a little girl I felt lonely standing in line to get on a carnival ride because I was an only child and most children in line already had a friend or a sibling they could sit with.
Then, another scenario came up as well, my parents’ broken marriage. Their turbulent relationship simmered down to an emotional numbness which I grew very afraid of.
I thought to myself, in order not to feel lonely I should be comfortable with being by myself and enjoy doing things that you tend to do in company of others. So, I booked a flight to Toronto by myself.
I’ve never been there nor did I know anyone who lived there. I stayed at a hostel and explored the city for four days!
Traveling alone was honestly one of the best things I could have done for myself. Throughout the journey, I grew to be more self-aware on how I interacted with people and my surroundings. I liked the freedom and flexibility I experienced by not having to accommodate my day with anyone. I became friends with people who live halfway across the world and most importantly, I learned how to enjoy being in a state of solitude.
2. Not Belonging
I believe outcasts are cool. I like different. However, if I’m in a social setting and I realize I can’t understand what’s going on or what’s being talked about, I feel like I’m the outcast; I start to feel awkward and my social anxiety kicks in.
I wanted to remind myself that it’s okay if you can’t relate to what’s going on and there’s no need to pressure yourself to say something, sometimes listening is enough. I confronted the fear of being an outcast by literally being the outcast.
Knowing absolutely nothing about comics, I attended New York City Comic Con. With a total attendance of over 150,000 people per year, you get the idea that these people are huge fans of comics. When I roamed around the venue, I felt like I was in a world of imagination and it was so intriguing. I talked to comic book writers and illustrators asking about their work and inspiration. I mainly listened and like I previously mentioned, that’s enough! Additionally, one of the coolest thing to see was the cosplay.
It only took a few minutes of embracement to not feel left out.
3. The Dark
I grew up sleeping with a nightlight till the age of 16 when I finally forced myself to get used to sleeping entirely in the dark. Yet, I’m still prone to feeling uneasy when I am in a dark and unfamiliar setting. I fall prey into imagining that something will pop out of the dark. No sight of what’s around scares me because I feel a loss of control. The way I faced this fear was by asking my friend to take me to a night hike in the woods!
He wouldn’t allow me to use my flashlight so it made everything more intimidating. As the night hike progressed,
my anxiety surprisingly turned into excitement
The hike became more of a suspenseful adventure rather than a terrifying nightmare! After facing this fear, I’m a bit more at ease with the dark.
The fear of needles goes way back in my toddler years when I’d go for my yearly doctor checkup. I was cooperative in every visit…until my doctor mentioned it was time for my shot. Temper tantrum unleashed! My reaction towards needles has gotten better as I matured (no more temper tantrums!) but I still get uncomfortable with the sight of them. Therefore, I decided to really push my limits. How? Acupuncture.
I was aware the needles used in Acupuncture are much thinner than regular needles–I did not feel any better with that information, haha. The lady performing the acupuncture was really sweet and kept me calm. I had needles on my legs, arms, and face! It did not hurt at all. That’s always been the fear in disguise with needles, physical pain. By the fourth needle inserted, I got accustomed to the subtle pinch.
Surprisingly, I would totally do this again! it was so relaxing that I snoozed.
5. Performing on Stage
My fear of performing stems from fear of public speaking. The simple act of being in front of an audience activates my social anxiety. Overcoming this fear has been a steady process. I wanted to do something drastic, something I’ve never done in front of people…sing.
I always reject invitations for a karaoke night. I am not a fan but for this challenge I decided to not sing in front of my friends. Instead, I sang in a public karaoke room full of strangers (excluding my one friend), which made things more nerve wracking. To make sure I wasn’t cheating myself I made the rule to NOT do drunk karaoke. I was secretly dreading the wait to perform.
When it was my turn I was freaking out inside.
Yes, karaoke is carefree and fun. Not to me though. I was performing in front of people regardless. That is a serious invitation for stage fright. But, after I sang a few verses and the crowd engaging, my esteem stabilized.
I finally had fun with it and loosened up. I was happy I did it. I had to constantly remind myself to not worry so much of what a crowd thinks.
I am still not a fan of karaoke because I was not blessed with a great voice… but if I do go again, I won’t be so hesitant to perform in front of others because I’d remember if I survived doing it once, I can survive again!
6. Being Vulnerable
I value privacy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an open and expressive person but when it comes to very personal matters like family or relationships, I don’t speak much. Old suppressed emotions accumulate and bottle up. In order for me to release these emotions, I’d have to talk about them and I am afraid because I do not want to mistrust someone with personal information.
My main purpose of doing this fear challenge was self-improvement.
I wanted to prove myself to have the courage to face these fears to a new extent and realize fear is simply a mental obstacle we create. I also knew if I wanted to rebuild myself in this journey of self-improvement, I was going to have to release all suppressed feelings of the past. The way I confronted my fear of vulnerability was to visit a therapist.
It was awkward the first couple of minutes in the room because I didn’t know how to go through with the session. I never thought I would ever visit one but visiting a therapist unlocked doors that held so much suppression.
I left the room feeling ironic because the experience and conversation was unlike any expectation or conversation I’ve had before. At the same time, it was thought-provoking because it felt like I was connecting the dots on why I am the person today to the experiences from the past. I felt relieved and I will remain with an open-mind attending therapy in order to be a better version of myself in the future :)
After facing all my fears I feel very accomplished, valiant, dauntless. I am proud of myself for facing fears that have personally followed me throughout the years.
I am happy to know that within me, I hold an invincible boldness.
It’s alleviating to know that within me I hold a powerful courage to tackle whatever obstacle is thrown my way, whether it’s a fear or a problem. This challenge reassured me I can face anything if I hold the right mindset.
Any advice for others who are afraid of this?
I advise anyone who has a fear to confront it directly. If you have a fear of falling, fall, if you have a fear of spiders, hold one, if you are afraid of flying, get on a plane. I will be honest and say you will feel a mix of emotions, but the end result will be worth it. Thank yourself for being brave! Let me tell you why…..nothing ever grows in your comfort zone, so take a step out.