Guy Scares Himself Every Day for a Year, Blogs About It to Help Others
Everyone remembers Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s immortal words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” but few remember the equally poignant words of his wife, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Gregory Tung, an aspiring screenwriter who lives and works in Los Angeles, spotted the latter saying on a yoga bag in a store window and decided to take to the phrase to heart in his own life. We don’t mean that he just tried to remember the subtext of the quote in his everyday life or used it to overcome some great fear that he felt was holding him back from achieving his dream.
He LITERALLY did something that scared him every day.
“I had a decent job and my own place but my life was just the same routine over and over again,” Tung said. “It wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t that good either and I just thought there was more to life out there. I thought I should try and do that literally every day for a year.”
So more than a year ago, Tung started racking up a list of challenges and activities that scared the daylights out of him such as taking a risque photo in public, signing up for trapeze lessons, eating a live octopus and (gulp!) meeting an ex-girlfriend.
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He chronicled his adventures at his blog Scare Yourself Every Day, a daily chronicle in overcoming social phobias and things that could possibly injure or kill him or, as anyone with a fear of public speaking can confirm, a combination of the two. Tung said that was one of his biggest fears and he overcame it by reading a piece at a spoken word show.
“That was a huge pinnacle for me for the blog, that I was able to up in front of 300 people there and perform,” he said. “It was just reading something but it was a huge deal to me. That was a huge fear I wanted to conquer. I kind of a shy, introverted person or maybe I was. It was just hard. There’s so many people with their attention focused on you and you think, ‘Oh God I don’t want to sound stupid or look dumb. I think a lot of it is just fear or embarrassment but that was something I got over in the blog.”
He also found a rather clever way of overcoming his social phobia and fear of meeting new people: he wore a wizard costume in public.
“I just happened to have the thing,” he said with a laugh. “I had a robe I borrowed for something else and I had a wizard hat that I borrowed for one of my other videos and that’s what I came up with.”
Tung said the experience actually helped meet more new people than he every thought he could on his own.
“That actually turned out to be one of the most fun things I did,” he said. “It was funny to see people who didn’t want to stare and others would come right up to me and ask why I was dressed up as a wizard. I talked to more people in public that day than I would have in a month.”
Some of his adventures were a bit more physical like dancing in a flash mob, playing paintball and even signing up for a women’s pole dancing class. The class he took never had a guy participate, so they had to set up a special coed class for him in which he was the only guy.
“Pole dancing was actually kind of fun,” he said. “It just playing around and swinging on a pole…If it were easier to take the classes, I would probably try that again.”
Some of the challenges took more guts than a Navy SEAL paratrooper, like voluntarily signing up for an audit with the Church of Scientology. Tung went back FOUR times.
“It was an interesting experience,” he said. “In the beginning, they get you to think a lot about self-help and it’s very ground but once you get to the Tom Cruise level, then you start to learn about the weird stuff. I just did the trial auditing session, which was a little creepy and weird but I didn’t go any further. They take you into a room and you’re alone with a stranger and you’re supposed to talk about some very personal things and deep seeded memories and re-live those memories and it’s just odd to do that with a complete stranger in a room with no windows.”
The stories that received the most response from his readers were more personal, like reconnecting with his mother and father and revealing some very personal truths about his past and his goals in life.
“I think I have the standard Asian family relationship with my parents. Chinese kids will hide a lot of stuff from their parents and I was no different,” he said. “A lot of the things I did in the blog are revealing things I was hiding like how I got caught shoplifting when I was in the seventh grade and my dad knew but my mom never knew and one of the things I did was tell her that after 20 years. It ended up bringing me closer to my parents and breaking down those walls, which was pretty cool.”
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The ultimate climax of Tung’s journey though his blog was overcoming perhaps his biggest fear and ultimate goal. He even timed the moment for the final day of his fear year.
“I knew for a long time that I wanted to leave my job and it’s so hard, especially these days,” he said. “It sort of felt like I was being a brat to want to go after my dreams but I have to quit my job. Why couldn’t I keep this job and go after my dreams? The truth was I didn’t have the time or energy and I knew for a long time that I wanted to quit and having the blog made the perfect motivation to actually do it.”
Tung said it and the 364 other little moments of fear-conquering helped him accomplish something that most people can only dream of doing for themselves.
“It definitely taught me you need to believe in yourself,” he said. “It also felt very empowering to quit my job, like I had a true control over my life because when I was working at my job, I had to work there, so it was like I was trapped. Quitting was very freeing and showed I could actually change my own life. It’s kind of why I did this blog.”