Why Doing Scary Things Is so Important


By Alexandra Marie Charlotte Stahl

What truly pushes you out of your comfort zone? For some, stepping out of their comfort zone means traveling alone, dining solo, changing careers or moving to a new city. For others, it involves attending networking events, discussing difficult topics with family, friends, or colleagues, or sharing their opinions and ideas in public. 

Are you afraid to do things that others might judge you for? Are you hesitant to start working on your idea because you fear failure? Your comfort in the familiar and fear of the unknown might stop you from making necessary changes—changes that could help ensure you live more authentically, closer to your goals, and surrounded by people who uplift and push you towards growth. 

Everyone has dreams, but often, we are our own biggest obstacles to fulfilling them. 

The Impact of Group Dynamics 

Having a stable group of friends and relationships and being part of a community is very important for our well-being and adds immense value to the quality of our lives. Being part of a community, group of friends, or sports team gives us a sense of belonging and stability. However, following group decisions and adopting the group’s habits, opinions, and values can sometimes distance us from our beliefs and authentic selves. Unconsciously adapting to other people’s behaviors, opinions, and even expectations of how life should be lived can put us at risk of losing touch with ourselves. 

While this might be more likely to happen with teenagers and young adults, this risk still exists in adulthood and persists throughout our lives. The risk of losing yourself to trends, societal expectations, and other people’s opinions. 

It is crucial to occasionally take a step back, detach from your immediate environment, and ask yourself: “What is it that I want to do? Is this something I truly stand for, or am I just conforming to the group dynamic, social, or family expectations?” Balancing social compatibility without losing touch with your own values and authenticity is an art in itself that requires daily practice. The first step of this process is identifying your goals and values as well as potential barriers to pursuing or living them. The next step is identifying the fears and obstacles to getting started.

Confronting Your Fears 

So, what is it that you’re afraid of? What dream are you stopping yourself from pursuing? 

Is it the trip you have always wanted to take? The business you wanted to start? The passion you have always wanted to share on social media? Whatever it is, your fear of looking stupid is holding you back. Change is a threat to your feelings of security and certainty.

What’s often more appealing than trying something new is repeating things that make you feel bad, such as staying out later than you initially wanted to, pushing the snooze button, or postponing what you have to get done.

Why Does Change Feel So Scary? 

Change is one of life’s constants, yet it often fills us with anxiety, this feeling of a “fear of our future.” Why does stepping into the unknown evoke such fear in us? The answer lies deep within our psychology and biology. 

Our brains are hardwired to favor stability and predictability. Familiar routines create a sense of safety and control, reducing the cognitive load on our minds. When we are faced with change, our brain’s natural response is to perceive it as a threat. This can trigger anxiety and fear— a survival mechanism, an echo from our ancestral past where the unknown often meant danger. 

But it is not just about biology. Change often demands that we leave our comfort zones, pushing us to confront our insecurities and limitations. It makes us vulnerable and can expose us to the possibility of failure or judgment from others. Our fear of the unknown creates these feelings, as we worry about what lies ahead and whether we are equipped to handle it. 

Cultural and societal norms also play a role. We live in a world that often prefers stability and predictability. Stepping away from the familiar path, breaking social norms, and doing things your way can feel like breaking an unspoken rule, adding another layer of anxiety to the equation. 

However, it is crucial to recognize that while change can be scary, it is also our chance to grow and find new opportunities. Embracing change and unexpected outcomes allows us to evolve. On this note, understanding the roots of our fear can help us navigate change better. It can allow you to transform the source of anxiety into a powerful stimulus for personal development. Be open to growth and allow new experiences, conversations, friendships, and new perspectives that might challenge your beliefs. We are here to learn, make mistakes, and do things better the next time. Practicing doing things outside your comfort zone strengthens your confidence in making even bigger steps the next time. 

Tips to Practice Change in Your Life 

  1. Try to seek new exposure. Try out new hobbies and routines. This can be as easy as cooking new recipes, visiting new places, waking up earlier, or adding new habits to your morning or evening routine. Observe yourself and start questioning why you do certain things. Why do you take the bus instead of your bike? 
  2. Engage in conversations with new people (preferably those you would not normally interact with). Start giving strangers compliments for things you notice about them or reach out to people who inspire you and ask them for advice. Allow new connections!! Overcome your fear of rejection and get to know new people, life stories, and perspectives. This can not only broaden your horizons, invite new inspiration, and allow new friendships, but also provide new perspectives on your life. 
  3. Imagine viewing your worries from a different angle— What advice would someone give you if they saw your life, wishes, and beliefs from a distance? Implement that advice. 
  4. Track your habits and things you want to change. Achieve your goals by reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish and why you want to change it. Set reminders on your phone, hang notes on your wall, or reflect on your day and goals through journaling. 

Doing scary things is important because it pushes you to grow, helps you discover your true self, and brings you closer to your goals. I hope this article can motivate you to start confronting your fears and start living the life you have always wanted. You will most likely begin to inspire the people around you to do the same.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.com

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