Do What Scares You

Military parachuting

How much do you prioritize personal growth?

Some people go to high school, go to trade school, and work their trade. They have families and social lives, and they may like a simple shift life. Others go to high school, then college, then post-graduate school, then they work a desk job. They also have families and social lives, and they may like a simple 9-5 life.

Though our backgrounds and experiences can all be boiled down to the same bullet points:

·       child is born

·       child attends school

·       child has combination of hardships and rewards

·       child goes through awkward puberty phase and is no longer considered a child

it’s what we do after these bullet points that really counts.

Think of it like an athlete. Does someone who plays basketball in high school that has WNBA or NBA aspirations stop when practice stops? No. They usually try to play and learn the sport as much as they can. So think of the sport like your brain – you’d want to develop it as much as you could, right? Enter the catchphrase:

Do what scares you.

These four words carry so much weight, yet some of the meaning is left behind as we put them in fancy fonts, and use them for Instagram or Facebook posts, or as another way to self-promote.

I don’t want that to happen to you. Really look at this phrase. DO denotes action. Not talking about action, but actually DOING something. WHAT denotes a verb – whether it’s moving to a new city, asking out that cute barista, or getting a new job. SCARES means fear. Think of wide eyes, heart beating fast, white knuckles, brain going into overdrive. Last but not least, we have YOU. What actually scares you? For some people, it’s getting deployed overseas, for others, it’s going to a new place or moving into a new neighborhood.


I keep repeating this because it’s been one of the formative phrases for me. I’ve always held the belief that if I’m scared of something, it’s because it’s out of my comfort zone. As someone who hates complacency, being scared and going out of my comfort zone is the only way I can grow as a person. Sometimes, that’s meant moving to a city knowing 7 people and having $1,200 to my name. Other times, it’s meant being in a new freelance situation, where I have to meet a new tutoring student, or do a type of translation I haven’t done before. And other times? It’s being in a new social situation, like a networking event or house barbecue. The introvert in me wants to run pell-mell back into my comfort zone, which means being in my pajamas on the couch. Yet if we don’t do things that scare us on a semi-regular basis, how much are we growing?

What I can say from my personal life is that happiness and contentment in life are directly tied to personal growth and development. You have to know yourself – really know yourself – to know what boundaries you’re willing to cross in order to grow. But what does science say?

Based on the fairly new field of positive psychology, certain levels of happiness are malleable and can be learned. Activities like journaling, meditating, and reflecting are key to finding what makes you feel certain feelings – such as contentment, exhaustion, accomplishment, motivation, and disappointment. Our self-directed scales of happiness and well-being are usually concurrent with a trauma or stressful experience – basically, we feel as though we grow from adversity.  

To come full circle: how much do you prioritize personal development? Knowing ourselves and pushing our boundaries can be key to increasing our happiness and contentment.

Sources:, "‘Positive Scientists' Say You Can Learn to Be Happier" 

Psychology Today, "The Secrets of Happiness" 

Psychology Today, "Personal Growth" 

"Personal Growth and Personality Development" 

Psychology Today, "Do Something That Scares You"