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Say hello to your fears By Sara Grace C. Fojas | Manila Bulletin

As soon as YouTuber/influencer Michelle Poler was introduced as the speaker to the students of Miriam College, the Henry Sy Innovation Center auditorium was filled with dance music, and Michelle went up to the stage and started dancing (like no one was watching). She went down the stage and asked the students to dance. She just kept dancing and dancing until she could no longer breathe. Then she went up the stage and said:

“My friend challenged me to start this conference dancing like a crazy person. Of course, I said no! But then he repeated my message back to me, and then I had no choice but to say yes,” she says. And throughout the morning, all Michelle talked about was facing her fears when she did her #100daysofFear project and what she learned from them:

Learn to let go.

I did crowd surfing! The band invited me to the stage and jump on the crowd. Then it just went so fast I didn’t want it to end. For the first time in my life, I was happy to let go and not be in complete control of the situation. This is for me to learn that sometimes we have to let go and try to enjoy the small moments of joy we can’t control.

Kindness and empathy are things we cannot just buy.

When I decided to approach homeless people on the streets of New York and ask them what I could do for them instead of giving them cash, something remarkable happened. The first man I approached was a gentleman and he told me to help the woman sitting across the street instead. He was concerned because she looked hungry. I was concerned for him and asked him what he needed but instead he wanted me to help someone else. I was shocked and even ashamed to think of this as a fear in the first place. I approached the woman and asked her what I could do for her and she asked me to buy food for her starving cats. In that moment, I realized that they might not have material goods but kindness and empathy are things we cannot just buy.

Going solo is not a bad thing.

Being on my own has always been a no-no. I would rather spend hours with someone I can’t stand than be alone, so on day 83 of my project, I challenged myself to travel solo. I was by myself, listening to my own thoughts, and enjoying my own company and, as it turns out, I’m pretty fun to be around with. I had so much fun that day that I now keep challenging myself to do things on my own. I’m still not type of person who wants to be on my own but now I get to enjoy my alone time, which I wish I was able to do earlier in my life.

Learn to trust.

Skydiving was one of my biggest fears, but this experience taught me the experience of trusting because if we don’t trust, we’re always going to be asking ourselves “what if?” We’re not allowing ourselves to enjoy any kind of experience so that day I decided to trust, first in God, second in myself, and third in Mike, the guy who jumped with me. After I decided to trust, I was soon enjoying every second of that experience trusting that things would always work out in the end.


Friends are found in the most unexpected ways.

Another fear of mine was dancing in the middle of Time Square in New York. I found this terrifying because I was the only one listening to the music. I looked like a pretty crazy person to everybody out there. But as soon as I was able to let go of my embarrassment and started to enjoy the song, people started joining me, which I was not expecting, and it sort of became like a big party in the middle of Times Square. That night, I only did not make new friends who I’m still in contact with but I realized that I enjoy dancing in public and it was one of the most memorable videos in my channel.


Our need to fit it in might hurt our authenticity.

Society has its own set of rules and expectations and that creates fears and makes us behave in a certain way. So the fear of not fitting in, not belonging, or not being loved and accepted is just one of these fears that dictate our life choices and the way we present ourselves to others. Belonging can be amazing, it’s what enables community, friendship, or team building. But if we’re not careful, our need to fit in may hurt our authenticity and we live in a time where authenticity is the most valuable asset anyone could have.


Listen to your heart.

For my final fear, my 100th fear, I was approached by a big brand that wanted to sponsor my last fear. My first reaction was to be excited until I realized they wanted to have me rappel down Rockefeller Center in New York. I thought about it, I would’ve loved the press that this stunt would bring and the opportunities with that renowned brand but something deep down didn’t feel right. So after much consideration, I decided to decline the offer because I wanted this last fear to go beyond physical fear and have a more meaningful impact. So instead of that, I decided to give a TED talk where I shared my story to the world to inspire hundreds of thousands to go after their fears. This decision not only marked the beginning of my speaking career but gave me confidence and taught me to listen to my own heart.

The enemy of success is not failure, it’s comfort.

We know that failing is a possibility, one that we don’t want to be held accountable for. Comfort is what keeps us from raising our hands to suggest the next big idea. It convinces us to stay with partner and friends we no longer love and in places we cannot get much out of. Comfort begs us to watch one more episode instead of facing the blank canvas on our blog.  Good things come to those who wait. People with accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They went out and made things happen.


Imagine all the possibilities.

When I first started my project, facing all these fears, I was having a really hard time to go through all of that—and then it hit me that I was asking myself the wrong question all along. I was asking myself the same question that we all ask ourselves before taking a risk: “What’s the worst that could happen?” It’s a distinctive question that will let you assess the level of threat. But this question only brings negative thoughts into our minds. So to gather the courage that we need, I switched the question and started asking myself: “What’s the best that could happen?” and I started seeing possibilities that were hiding behind each of the fears.

Life will always give us choices. Some will take you into comfort and safety. Other choices will challenge us and take us forward into growth. Identify which one is the growth choice and pick that one. Sometimes it’s the scarier one. So next time you’re thinking about your next move and you feel the fear, just think that it may be the right one.


Courage begins with the will to think about the best case scenario.

It’s about creating your own luck, sending that email or raising your hand to propose some idea. It’s what gets us what we deserve and something even more. Courage is contagious so what started as a personal development project turned into my purpose, a social mission to encourage people all over the world to say hello to their fears. Am I afraid to fail? You bet I am. But I am 100 percent more terrified of not trying at all. This project gave me the willingness to go after my fears so instead of looking at every fear as an obstacle like I was doing before, I now see it as an opportunity that can lead us to discover the next big thing and that is the best that could happen.

Michelle’s talk is part of the Miriam College’s “Girls Be Brave” campaign to encourage students, especially girls, to engage in subjects they tend to fear the most like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  Through the campaign, the school will be implementing a series of activities that make the concept of personal courage more concrete. The initiative emphasizes that, in the 21st century, girls and young women have to take courage in threading unknown territories for women such as STEAM.

Michelle Poler became popular on YouTube when she began her #100DaysWithoutFear project in which she had to face one fear a day for 100 days. She filmed herself on each challenge and posted them daily on her YouTube channel. She braved different kinds of fears from holding a tarantula and skydiving to posing nude for a drawing class, and helping people in need. In a matter of days, Poler had over 4.5 million views on her YouTube channel. Since then she has been invited to TedX, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, and to schools and universities within and outside of the US, teaching audiences how to tap into their full potential in both their personal lives and their careers.

SOURCE: Manila Bulletin > lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2018/01/26/say-hello-to-your-fears


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