Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Personal Dares: Shake Up Your Life!

We all had a group in school, even if it was the outcasts. They often defined our activities and choices and even dared us to join them in acts of stupidity.

Me? I was without category. I hung with the brilliant students but got As and Bs. I hung with the stoners but didn’t do drugs. I hung with the cheerleaders but didn’t cheer. I hung with the math geeks but sucked at math. I hung with the moody depressing Goths but was cheerful. I was, I suppose, without peer. I liked it that way. No one ever directed my choice of clothing, my hobbies or what I did with my body. I was free to be me. Basically, I was saying "I'll hang with you, but you do not define me." Instead, I looked inward for who to compete with (me), who to outdo (myself), and who to dare to do something new (me); I was my own competitor.

Did you ever just dare yourself to do something? Whether it was to spontaneously hit the road with no destination in mind or climb a rock face off a hiking trail just to see the view? Did you ever prod yourself to do the very thing that most scared you? Some therapists call this counterphobic behavior, but shaking up your world now and again is highly recommended.

We think we know ourselves until we up and do something completely different. Do you remember the “Seinfeld” show when George decided to do the exact opposite of what he normally did and he succeeded for the first time in his life? That is totally true. When you’re in new territory, doing something different, expanding your boundaries, you meet some new part of yourself you can call upon in the future.

The part of you that threw her arms up in the rollercoaster when she was terrified out of her mind just met a concept she may never have realized; reality can be taken many ways. A person on a rollercoaster can be excited, nervous, terrified, or having complete abandon. She just learned she can experience this event different ways. She isn’t any different, she simply let herself “let go” instead of bracing. It’s rather symbolic of life, isn’t it? It’s all about choices; brace or let go, force or resist, hate or love...

I’ve done the usual things; overcoming fear of heights and fear of speed and snuck into abandoned places and crept around closed cemeteries; the usual kinds of dares, but on a more weekly basis, I just to shake up my life so I don’t take things for granted. I hate to repeat the same day over and over again and get a myopic view of my universe. The last time, I went to a neighboring town and acted like a tourist. I strolled along the shops, engaged in friendly chatter with the store clerks asking recommendations for where to lunch, had a really nice lunch at a place I’d never heard of, and sat near a fountain and watched the people go by as the people were foreign. I came home later on feeling like I’d been on a vacation.

So, this week, this month, this year, did you give yourself a personal dare? Did you live up to it? What did you learn about yourself?


  1. Yep! I always like to use the phrase "throw your hat over the wall", which I believe derives from the story of the young boy who wanted to see inside the walls of the king's castle, so he threw his hat over the wall. Why? Because now he had to go get his hat!

    Always be daring enough to throw your hat over the wall!

  2. Dan,
    I totally agree! I'm curious by nature and I love to do urban exploration. It helps being a middle-aged woman--no one thinks you're a threat if you creep around a cemetery after dark, they aren't going to pat you down for candles and witchcraft stuff and if you're taking photos of an abandoned site they tell you to just move on. Hee hee