"Do one thing every day that scares you." This is one of those quotes that seems to be always floating around- in graduation speeches, splashed across yoga t-shirts (yoga is pretty frightening), someone probably even has it tattooed across their shoulders, likely the final event in a string of very bad decisions one night in college. It sounds nice. It's probably meant to convey the challenges of life and the sort of "taking the bull by the horns" type of attitude we're all supposed to have. This is utter crap.
Fear is important. Fear keeps us from killing or maiming ourselves. A lot of people are afraid of heights. This makes sense: if you fall from a great height you can die. Some people are afraid of snakes. Snakes can harm you. And some people are afraid of clowns. This is rational. Clowns are creepy and they all secretly want to murder you in your sleep. It's evolution and self-preservation at it's basest form. If we all did something every day that scared us, we would spend our entire lives whimpering and rocking in a corner. And a lot more people would be killed off Darwin-style through astonishing acts of stupidity. You know on second thought...
Of course some fears are irrational. Mageirocophobia: a fear of cooking. Eisoptrophobia: fear of seeing yourself in a mirror. Automatonophobia: fear of ventriloquist dummies. Huh. You know what, I may need better examples.
Ok, here's one. When Boy was little he was afraid of birthday parties. More specifically, the standard "Happy Birthday To You" song. He's over it now, and if you ask him about it he'll chuckle in a self-deprecating way and say he doesn't know why. It was pretty embarrassing for a while. We'd be at a party; nerves on edge as the Elmo cake was being brought out and candles were being lit, mentally mapping out which grandmother I'd have to take down in order to get to him in time. Then BAM singing happens, and it's too late, he's screaming and writhing on the ground and I'd have to wrestle him away from the crowd kicking and screaming while everyone watched in horror.
But because of this fear we switched to playing The Beatles Birthday instead. Which is a pretty cool tradition, actually, if only the song immediately after wasn't "Yer Blues," a horribly depressing tune about wanting to kill yourself. Because nothing says Happy Birthday quite like songs about suicide, and a hysterical toddler.
So my advice to you is to not take the bull by the horns. Bulls are huge, angry creatures and you will most likely get gouged. Take it easy. Enjoy your life. And watch out for clowns.