Greg was just a “normal” person. But, one day, he had an epiphany. He knew that he wasn’t living as vibrantly as he liked. So he decided to scare himself–at least once every day–and write about it in his hilarious, quirky way on his blog, ScareYourselfEveryDay.com.
Thirty-six-year-old Greg did it. He got through the whole year, scaring himself each and every day. He broke out of his comfort zone in many ways. He attended trapeze school and climbed a mountain. He tried all kinds of icky foods (like live octopus) and took an aerobic class with Richard Simmons. More emotionally, he told his dad what he thought of him and quit his job.
His blog chronicles the entire year. It’s fascinating. It’s funny. And it inspires us all to live outside our comfort zone, even if it means eating in a restaurant alone.
1) What inspired you to scare yourself every day and then write about it?
I was at a crossroads in my life. I was 35. I had a career. I made a decent amount of money. I lived comfortably enough. I lived alone. Did what I wanted. Could play video games and drink wine on a Friday night. I could easily have spent the rest of my life that way. And it wouldn’t have been a bad life. But there was a nagging feeling that I wanted a good life.
As dumb as it sounds, I saw Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “Do one thing a day that scares you” on the side of a yoga bag and that’s where the idea started. I would do one thing that scared me every day for a year and document it in a blog. I decided to write about it since a) I’m a writer and it would force me to write every day but mostly because of b) It would be harder to cheat or give up if I was doing it in the public eye.
2) What did you learn about yourself? What have you accomplished?
I learned more than I could’ve ever imagined. I learned that I’m stronger than I thought. That I could change my own life. Write my own story. Be the person I wanted to be. I always labeled myself as “shy.” I realized putting a label like that just limits yourself. If you are going to put a label on yourself, know that you can change that label. I’m going to be “extroverted” at this party! And boom! I’m talking to strangers!
The main thing I accomplished was deciding to do something and seeing it through to the end. For me, that was huge. I was always a big dreamer but never really did anything. Finishing Scare Yourself Every Day proved to myself that I could be a doer as well as a dreamer. That has made me believe that almost anything is possible if I set my mind to it.
3) How is life different now than before you started?
I’m different in that when I’m confronted with a situation that I want to avoid or not do, I stop and think, “If I was still doing SYED, what would I do?” More likely than not it would be to do that thing. So I do it. And in that way, I’ve opened myself to experiences I never would have before SYED. And it’s enriched my life as a result.
I am definitely more outgoing. Like I said, I took the “shy” label off. It’s still not my “natural” state to be completely outgoing, but I talk to people more than I ever did before.
I’m also a happier person. I don’t feel stuck in my life. As you may have read in my blog, I quit my job over a year ago. And while it’s not always been easy, it’s exciting and fun to try to make my dream of a writer happen. I don’t feel shackled by a paycheck, as odd as that sounds.
4) What kind of feedback did you get from people about your plan?
The feedback I got from people was almost universally positive and supportive. My friends and family were amazing. I was surprised when people I hadn’t heard from in a very long time, sent me emails or messages encouraging me or offering suggestions for scary things to do.
As the year went on, sometimes the response from my friends was a bit less enthusiastic. I think it was wearing on me as well as them. At times, they wondered if I was just “using them” for a blog entry. “Do you really want to be here or is this just for your blog?” It was a valid concern. But they were one in the same to me. But those incidents were few and far between.
“I lived comfortably enough. I lived alone. Did what I wanted. Could play video games and drink wine on a Friday night. I could easily have spent the rest of my life that way. And it wouldn’t have been a bad life. But there was a nagging feeling that I wanted a good life.”
5) What was the scariest thing you did throughout the course of this year?
I get asked this all the time of course and you’d think I’d have a canned response. But honestly it feels different every time someone asks me.
I think the thing that gave me the most anxiety was doing Mortified
, which is the live show where people read diary entries they wrote as kids. Public speaking was always one of my biggest fears. In this case, not only would I be standing in front of a few hundred people and speaking. I would be reading diary entries I wrote as a 12 year old about my frequent masturbation habits. There were many sleepless nights before my actual performance. But when the time came, it was the most amazing experience of my life.
Since then, I’ve performed at Mortified 3 more times. I also appear for a tiny amount of time in the new documentary about Mortified coming out next month. That’s crazy!
6) What’s next for ScareYourselfEveryDay.com?
I got a lot of press after SYED ending because my video summary of the year went viral. I got a lot of amazing opportunities from that. I started working with a book agent and tried to sell a memoir about my SYED year. Unfortunately, that didn’t sell. It was heartbreaking but it was a great lesson in how to deal with a major setback. We are still working on making an SYED guide to help people plan their own Scare Yourself project. Hopefully that will be published someday.
I ended up working with a movie production company to make SYED into a movie. I’ve written the script. We have a director and producer on board and are now working with a big talent agency in LA. Currently we’re trying to get a lead actor attached as well as funding for the movie. It’s been a long process (almost two years) but we’re making progress and I’m really excited that at how close we’re getting. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
7) Feel free to add anything else you’d like to mention.
I’d just like to add that the most unexpected result of SYED was how it resonated with so many people. It started out as a very personal thing. I wasn’t doing big stunty scary things like skydiving or bungee jumping because those aren’t particularly scary to me. In fact, I’ve done all those before the blog. But going to a party alone or eating dinner in a fancy restaurant alone, terrified me. I never expected anyone else to care but they did. Not only did people care, but they were actually inspired by SYED. I’ve gotten many emails about people saying, “Today, I scared myself…” That is truly amazing.
Sure a book or a movie would be a great. But if the only things to come out of SYED are my self-growth and inspiring some people around the world, I would be extremely happy.
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