Are doing things that scare you a good idea or is it just a cliché?

So it’s something we hear all the time. To quote Baz Luhrmann: “Do something every day that scares you”. But I wonder whether this is advice that should be branded around or whether it is a foolish suggestion that has no positive impact on a person’s life and indeed could be seen as having quite the opposite effect and proving detrimental. Clearly everyone is different so advice can never be universally helpful, however, is being afraid beneficial at all? Should we ‘face our fears’? Or are we better off steering clear of the things which we fear the most?

I have always seen fun as being in different categories. There are those things which are always brilliant, from the build up, to the activity itself and finally the aftermath. It’s all great fun, really enjoyable and everyone is glad it happened. Such as birthday parties, a wonderful holiday, skiing untracked powder…! Then there is another type of fun. The fun which makes you feel apprehensive beforehand, utterly terrifies you throughout, yet once it’s over you can breathe a great sigh of relief and are thrilled you did it. Although I’ve never done one myself, I imagine that a sky dive or a bungee jump are examples of such activities. People do these things to challenge themselves, to push their limits and to gain new experiences. But is there a third type of ‘fun’? The fun which seems like a good idea at the time and which you feel like you really should do, but which terrifies you and which you look back on afterwards and admit that it probably wasn’t worth the fear and panic. Now this doesn’t sound like a great deal of fun! But overall aren’t these experiences which shape you as a person and inevitably make you stronger?

Living in the mountains is what has got me thinking about this. There is so much excitement around us, so much to explore and new challenges to face every day. Many choose to stay within their comfort zones and keep life simple, enjoying the scenery and opportunities that the landscape provides. However others don’t want to stay where they feel comfortable and choose to take this a step further, or two or three! This could be anything from basic rock climbing to jumping off a cliff side wearing a wing suit! Why people choose to do some of these things, well you would have to ask them, but through mountaineering and alpine sports I have learnt more about myself than in anything else I’ve done. I don’t have a huge risk tolerance and would by no means describe myself as extreme or particularly adventurous, certainly not compared to a lot of the people in this valley!  But I am happy to try new things and have a go at something I never thought I would achieve. But being in the mountains is a scary business and no matter how long I spend in amongst them, I don’t think I will ever really feel brave.

I have done many things I am proud of and which tested my limits of both fear and exhaustion. And when it was all over I was happy I’d made it and would even consider doing it all again! But then there is the occasional time when things don’t quite go to plan and if I’m honest, I’d never do again if I was paid! I’m happy to say that I’ve never come to any harm in the mountains, yet I know many that have and I am fully aware of the potential consequences of a minor slip up or accident. Being scared is not something many people enjoy, including me, and I have realised that there are a million and one things I can do which challenge me and make me happy, without having to terrify me at the same time. I think it is so important to step out of your comfort zone every now and again, not to live in a safe bubble all your life. But personally I don’t think that doing things that scare me is beneficial. Things that test me, yes. Things that physically exhaust me, yes. Things that challenge me, yes. But things that scare me, I can live without.

Stunning scenery but slipping is not an option!
Not for those with vertigo!
Not for those with vertigo!