Portrait of Haley
20 Times I “Did Something That Scared Me” and It Didn’t Work Out
08.14.19

They say you should do something that scares you every day, and they often say it in script superimposed on a photo of a woman hiking. But sometimes something scares you because it’s a very bad idea and you should not do it. I’ve learned this lesson by way of many ill-advised decisions, which were made in part under the guise of proving to myself that fear has no place in my emotional toolkit. Turns out it occasionally very much does.

Below, a list of times it might’ve behooved me to heed it over the course of my twenties, an exorcism I’ve been called to perform in honor of my 30th birthday today. Allow yourself to imagine it in Curlz MT superimposed on a photo of a cat in a wig.

1. The time I dyed my long hair dark brown and looked exactly like Moaning Myrtle, age 20.

2. The time I snooped in my ex-boyfriend’s desk drawer while “looking for a pen” and found a pro/con list about me that declared me “cute” and “unadventurous.” Age 20.

3. The time I told my parents I was dating a guy who was 10 years older than me, divorced, and the father of two children. Age 21.

4. The time I sent an email to my entire company and accidentally included a photo of my friend cooking in his underwear. Age 22.

5. The era during which I let my hamster Judy Dench run free around my apartment under the belief that it was the only time she was truly happy, a privilege that ultimately resulted in her death. Age 23.

6. The time I dropped acid and lived 100 years in 10 minutes. Age 24.

7. The time I “dared to put down roots” by moving to a quieter neighborhood and investing in a car. Within 18 months, I would move away and sell the car. Age 25.

8. The time I adopted a second cat on a whim in a pathetic attempt to prove I was spontaneous—a cat who did not get along with Bug and was generally a bad idea. Age 26.

9. The one time I answered “yes” when my doctor asked if I’d ever done recreational drugs, a decision I thought was evolved, but simply earned me a lecture. Age 26.

10. The time I got a spray tan for my sister’s bachelorette party and woke up the next day looking…how to put this?…problematic. Age 26.

11. The time I accepted the position of maid of honor for my sister’s wedding and forgot to bring the rings to the ceremony, resulting in the wedding party subtly slipping off their rings and passing them down the line until I had 12 rings in my hands, which I passed to the officiant when asked. Age 26.

12. The time I moved into a basement with no windows or doors because “it had so much space,” then spent the year whining about having no light or privacy and having too much space. Age 27.

13. The time I went platinum blond, which ruined my hair and made my skin look inexplicably pink. Age 27.

14. The time I went to Paris by myself using a ticket purchased for an anniversary trip that would never be, thinking I would “find myself,” but in reality finding myself alone and crying in a foreign country during the results of the 2016 presidential election. Age 27.

15. The time I went to a yacht party alone and proceeded to nervous-drink several cans of rosé and later suffer from the worst hangover of my life, during which I was sure I’d disappointed my mom (?). Age 27.

16. The time I boldly didn’t double-check the amount of salt I was supposed to put into rice krispy treats, using ¼ cup instead of ¼ teaspoon, resulting in a dessert my boyfriend dubbed “rice krispy punishments.” Age 28.

17. The time I read gossip about myself on the internet and experienced my first panic attack. Age 28.

18. That summer I cut all my favorite pants into mediocre shorts. Age 28.

19. The time I watched honey comb mukbang with my boyfriend out of morbid curiosity, resulting in a mental/aural image I have yet to escape. Age 29.

20. Every time I’ve taken a shot after 2 a.m. Ages 20-29.

Feel to add your own.

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