Twelve Fears 2016 Challenge: Why Am I Doing This?

Twelve Months Twelve Fears

This year, I forgot about all the normal New Year’s Resolutions – which I normally toss aside by February anyway – and set myself one simple challenge that will last the whole year. Throughout 2016, I plan to do one thing that scares me every single month. And for someone who’s as easily frightened and frequently anxious as me, that’s a pretty big deal. In fact it’s so easy to find things that scare me on a daily basis, that my definition for the challenge should really be doing one thing that terrifies me every month – big things that really, genuinely scare me and that take all my guts to face.

What I’ve Done So Far

Twelve Months Twelve Fears

Me Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh

When I started the challenge, it was just a personal thing so I didn’t really bother announcing it on my blog except in a few general posts, so this introduction to the Twelve Months Twelve Fears challenge is  a few months late. I’ve already ticked off a few major things for the first couple of months, which you can read more about in these blog posts:

January: Skiing for the first time ever

February: Set off on my first ever solo backpacking trip! (Read more about why I was so afraid in this post).

March: Bungee jumping in Rishikesh, India. You may have already seen the video on my Facebook page, but a blog post will be coming very soon so stay tuned.

Why Am I Doing This

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

So, why have I decided to spend 2016 throwing myself off bridges and down snow-covered mountains for no good reason? If you’d asked me back at the start of the year, before I actually started to doing any of the challenges, I would have told you it was about teaching myself to be braver, because I often lament what a coward I am.

Twelve Months Twelve Fears

Ski selfie with my fellow bloggers in Tignes!

But, the main feeling I got after my first skiing lesson wasn’t to do with the rush of excitement or the exhilaration of doing something scary. I definitely felt those things, but stronger than that was the sense of feeling proud of myself. I don’t know if I have particularly low self esteem, but in my life the instances where I can honestly say that I’m proud of myself are rare.

Back in 2014, while I was in La Paz, I went to a place called Urban Rush where I rappeled (like abseiling but facing downwards) down a seventeen story building dressed as Batman. Looking back, the fact that I wanted to do it seems insane – completely at odds with the kind of person I am and particularly with who I was at the time. I did it because my then-boyfriend wasn’t doing it, and I think I was trying to prove something to him. I also did it because I was desperately trying to prove to myself that I could be brave and fun and spontaneous and reckless like all the other backpackers we were meeting. I was trying to be the person I thought my ex wanted me to be, I was trying to be the person I thought I wanted to be. In short, I did it for a lot of reasons and none of them were good. But, I did it. And it was terrifying, but it was also fun, and when it was over I remember feeling so incredibly proud of myself. For most of the rest of that trip, especially in Bolivia, there were often moments where I felt exceptionally proud of myself – and it was a good feeling.

Twelve Months Twelve Fears

Running down a building face first with Urban Rush Bolivia

Whenever I’m scared to do anything now I look at the tattoo on my wrist which I got on the same trip in South America, and I say to myself “you ran down a building”, and I remember that I can do anything. I often put myself down for being coward – because I am scared of Me Squarea lot of things, many of them stupid. Wasps, heights (or edges of heights), ordering food in restaurants, asking strangers questions, the dark, seaweed, breaking bones, travelling on my own, men who are or might be hitting on me, men I fancy, talking to new people… the list goes on and on, and every day I find myself feeling scared or anxious about something, whether trivial or huge.

But what this challenge is showing me is that actually, I am very brave. I’m perhaps even braver than a lot of people who don’t feel fear as often. Because when I’m scared I carry on and do it anyway. So the reason that I’m doing this Twelve Months Twelve Fears challenge this year is to keep on reminding myself of that fact. To keep on giving myself reasons to be proud of me, and to build back up the self confidence which I allowed the early years of my twenties to destroy. And hopefully to show other people that it’s ok to be scared, and that no matter how scared you are it can be a really good thing to force yourself to do something anyway.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? I need inspiration! Plus, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this 2016 challenge, so please leave a comment… 

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Twelve Months Twelve Fears Travel Challenge with Emily Luxton

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

23 Comments

  1. Go for you – my scariest thing this year was going in a cage with 4 large lions. And only with 3 guards and a wooden stick. I like the idea of pushing yourself. But only if it is something that you want to do. You will only regret the things you do not do – have fun !

    • Wow that does sound scary! Where did you do that? Also – they weren’t sedated lions were they?

      My challenge is definitely only about doing things I want to do. That’s another part of being brave, I think; being brave enough to say when you don’t want to do something and not caring what other people think of that! 🙂

      • In Mauritius, in February. No they were not hence why I was so scared and I said to my husband – why are we doing this. And he replied – you wanted to do it. You are right, but this is your life and you would not get another chance to live it. So have a great time in India !

        • Good, I hate hearing about the tiger “sanctuaries” in Thailand where people can go pose with a drugged up tiger – so sad 🙁 But waaaay scarier going in with some completely alert lions! Why on earth did you want to do that?!

          I’m back in Thailand now after three weeks in India. Travelling Asia has been an amazing start to my year and the perfect opportunity to face a lot of my fears 🙂

          • I did the tiger ‘sanctuaries’ in Thailand and they were so drugged up and I was in two minds about it afterwards. I love cats, big ones and little ones. And lions are joint top with cheetahs and I just had to do it. Like you doing a bungee jump – I would never do that but put me in cage with dangerous animals and I am game. I would have regretted it and they were so beautiful. Have fun in Thailand !

  2. Of course you’re brave- don’t forget that you did the Via Ferrata in Spain- and didn’t stay back like the coward that I am 🙂 it’s amazing that you’ve decided to tackle your fears and I am excited to see how this new journey goes. All the best Emily! So proud of you for doing this.

    • Haha you’re not a coward at all! It’s equally brave in a different way to not do something you don’t want to do. I’d never push myself into doing something if I didn’t want to do it – only when I’m afraid but still want to try. Still though, when I’ve been so scared about stupid things like asking for something in a shop, it’s hard to remember that I’m brave. That’s what the challenge is all about!

      Thanks so much Natasha 🙂 I’m really excited to see how the whole challenge unfolds – I still have nothing lined up for this month so need to find something!!

  3. As I read this post I found myself laughing and nodding and feeling great! It’s an awesome idea and that video of you bungee jumping is ceerrraaaaazzzzyyyyy by the way!
    You are so brave!! And a wonderful inspiration!
    I think it is perfectly ok to feel scared of all those things on your list, as long as it doesn’t stop you from doing things. From following your blog, you seem pretty unstoppable! A bit of fear just makes it even more exciting!
    I’m already looking forward to your next blog!

    • Aw thanks so much Sarah! I don’t think I’m an inspiration at all but I hope that I can show other fraidy-cats like me how much joy can come out of overcoming your fears sometimes 🙂

      I definitely am unstoppable though. I think because I’m my own biggest critic and I really hate disappointing myself, so if I decide to try something and I chicken out I’ll just berate myself for days – sometimes years! – afterwards. So in the end it’s easier just to get on and do it.

      Oh and yes, the bungee video is insane. When I watched it back I couldn’t believe it was me. I’ve made a slow-mo version which I’ll share in the blog post when it’s finished (should be tomorrow or the next day) so stay tuned haha. Thanks so much for your lovely comment 🙂

  4. This is a great challenge and good on you for completing the Urban Rush in La Paz. I was way too scared! I did, however, mountain bike down death road, immediately followed by a head first (supposedly) 80kph zip line above the jungle canopy. Both of those things terrified me, but I felt such an enormous sense of achievement afterwards 🙂

    • Haha, I went there at the end of the free walking tour and I was the only one from our group of twenty or so who wanted to do it. But it wasn’t really out of bravery, it was more from this feeling that I had to do it for some reason. Maybe because I was trying to pretend to be brave. Anyway, it was amazing fun!

      A few days later I did Death Road too and freaked out about halfway down and started crying. I had to get back in the van for a while until I’d calmed down. I did get back on the bike afterwards though and again I felt really proud of myself for giving it another go despite how scared I was. Death Road seemed scarier to me because I was completely in control, with Urban Rush I was in a harness with two guys in charge of braking me from each end – so it felt like less could go wrong in a way!!!

  5. I think it’s excellent! You’re doing something for you! And you can be damn proud about it too. Scariest thing I ever done? Paragliding in Pokhara- Nepal. At first I was all though, but when I was all strapped in and ready to throw myself of the hill, I tought: I’m mad, I’m not doing this. I’ll pee myself, get me out of here….!! So.. maybe a little idea?
    I do have a blog coming up about my biggest travel fear, but it’s more health related than scary things related.

    • Haha, “I’ll pee myself”! Similar thoughts were going through my mind before the bungee 🙂

      I did a tandem paraglide in Colombia and actually it was one of the few extreme/height related things that didn’t scare me. Probably because I was strapped in with a trained professional who had just won the world championships for paragliding (or something similar)! Also the feeling as we took off was nice and gentle, none of the stomach lurching that you’d expect. How did you find the paragliding after you did it?

  6. Just looking at the photo of you bungee jumping makes me feel scared! I think there are many ways to be brave and it’s a great challenge to set yourself and remind yourself that you can do anything.

    Just over two years ago I went to Vietnam and Cambodia for over 2 months. I was/am an introvert, it was the furthest I’d ever been from home, and I was on my own travelling for the first time! On that same trip I went canyoning in Vietnam (abseiling down waterfalls!) Looking back, I can’t believe I did it, but I felt so proud afterwards. After doing that and travelling on my own I realised that I can do anything, and we are brave in many ways even if we don’t realise it at the time.

    Thanks for sharing Emily!

    • Haha – when I watched the video back I couldn’t believe it was me. I remember watching a video of my ex bungee-ing a few years ago and it made my knees feel week. I’m staggered really that I was able to do a jump myself – I’ve come a long way in the past few years!

      I’m an introvert too, and sometimes I can be cripplingly shy. What’s funny is that most people who know me or meet me would never know it – somehow I come across really confident. I think travel has done that for me – the more people I meet and spend time with, the better I get at feigning confidence. Travel is so good for us – and that’s why I wanted to do this challenge, too, because facing fears and making ourselves proud is really good for us too 🙂

  7. very impressive. I am not a fan of heights and bungee-jumping is not something I think I could EVER do. I balance that with the fact that I dont really want to do it anyways!your video was amazing. hmmm i think i need to find other fears to conquer!

  8. Great post! I believe overcome your fear will makes you feel really proud and rewarding. I was shivering when I watched your bungee-jumping video that was posted on facebook, but that was one of my mission.

    The two scariest things I have done: jumping off a cliff in Hawaii – I stood atop the cliff for nearly 30 minutes and could not jump. and that I ended up having another girl jump off with me.

    Mfirst time zip-line experience in a rain forest in Alaska,. i was not scared as hell when I did it but I ended up stuck in the middle of the line once. Dont even ask me how I got out of that hahahahaha…

  9. I love this! Way to face your fears! I’m hoping to face my fear of going under water this year!! Roars to you!

    • Thank you! I’m really pleased with how the challenge has been going so far – it’s definitely helping to boost my confidence 🙂 Good luck with your own fear-facing. Do you have any plans in place to make it happen?

  10. Well, I don’t think I’ve done something truly scary because I am also a very fearful person (I’m even fearful of crossing my way from the bus to my university campus because I’m pretty sure there are snakes on the fields =p) but the scariest would be hiking up the Corcovado to Christ Redeemer on flip flops. I saw three different monkey species and fortunately I didn’t see any snakes otherwise I would pass out. Anyway I was so pumped up that it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Keep going, I hope I can become as brave as you =)

    • Thank you!! I honestly don’t think I’m all that brave – I get scared of everything. But trying all these new things has definitely been really good for me – and I think it’s helping make me a little braver 🙂

  11. Hi Emily – I did a similar thing to you when I turned 30… my present to myself that year was to do 30 new things. They didn’t have to be scary or exciting or anything in particular but I’d seen too many friends get down about turning (can’t believe that now – I’m 42 and living life so much more than I was then!!) … anyway, 30 things in a year really meant that I had to think of something every couple of weeks! But what a fun year it was!! I didn’t realise until I did it how easily I had let every day life become an excuse not to just push a little bit… I can’t even remember the 30 things now but I do know that it started a momentum that lasted long after my self-challenge was over. You will probably find the same… Good on you for stepping up, on your terms and just for yourself, not for anyone else! You go girl 🙂

    • Awesome idea. I was actually thinking of repeating my challenge next year but with new things – it’s getting harder and harder to find scary things to do! Next year I turn 30 myself so perhaps I can pinch your idea 😉

      It’s amazing how much you can let life slip by you. I was stuck in a bit of a rut last year and letting myself feel dull and down a lot for no good reason. After starting the challenge and pushing myself more, I found myself loving life a whole lot more too! It’s been so good for me!

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