Giving Fear A Workout

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Molly Mogren of Hey Eleanor about giving up the thing that defined me, a.k.a. CrossFit. Now I’m delighted to share some of Molly’s insights right here. I asked her to write about what she’s learned during her Hey Eleanor adventures, and she’s got some kickass tips to help you become your boldest self, too.


If I were to ask you, “What’s your biggest fear?” you’d probably say something like heights, snakes, planes, or snakes on a plane. You know what you wouldn’t say? Silly stuff, like cooking seafood at home, inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue (for real, not just to be polite), or finally taking that improv class you’ve spent years thinking about.

The silly stuff isn’t silly. I know, because I’ve been forcing myself to do the silly stuff and it’s changed my life.

In October of 2013, I started Hey Eleanor, a blog devoted to doing one thing that scares me every day. I expected it to be adventurous and exciting. What I didn’t expect is the enormous impact it would have on my life. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way…

Practice Makes Things Less Scary

Did you know that anyone can “be creative?!” Really. It just takes practice. Think you’re not a creative person? Try incorporating some of these 25 tips/tricks into your routine. It works.

Much in the same vein, overcoming fear gets easier with practice. A year ago, I would’ve rather shaved off my eyebrows than get up in front of an audience and say words out of my mouth. The first time I spoke to a group about Hey Eleanor (ps there were only 12 people there), my heart almost exploded. The next time someone asked me to speak, I womaned up and said yes even though I was still scared. The more I said yes, the easier it got easier. Eventually, I worked up to an 8-minute stand-up comedy set last spring. I mean, talk about progress!

Lesson: Oddly enough, facing your fears regularly makes you less scared. You get more comfortable and confident in your un-comfort zone. I feel like I can do anything.

Scary Things are Everywhere.

Initially, I thought the difficult part about Hey Eleanor would be finding scary things to do. Turns out, scary things find me nearly every day. From getting a flu shot, to a session with this crazy Chinese healer man (probably my favorite/funniest scary thing thus far) and using this creepy toilet in my basement, I encounter plenty of things outside my comfort zone.

Lesson: Before Hey Eleanor, I would’ve shied away from these things (in most cases I RARELY would’ve said yes). Now I say yes to nearly everything. It’s way more fun.

People Like Hey Eleanor Molly Better

I will admit that I was often a pain in the ass pre-Hey Eleanor. I didn’t want to help my husband, say, build a fence in our backyard or join him SCUBA diving. My default was no.

However, once I committed to the Hey Eleanor challenge, I was constantly looking for scary or uncomfortable things to do. So I started saying yes to everything, then doing said things with gusto. It’s made me a better wife, friend, and general member of society.

Lesson: People like the gal who’s game for anything, myself included.

Things That Can Kill You Aren’t Always the Scariest Things.

I’ve never heard of dying from public speaking, and yet, I can’t explain why skydiving was less scary than giving a TEDx Talk, going through a haunted basement or eating a live minnow.

Lesson: The fear of public humiliation or overcoming psychological hurdles is a real and powerful thing.


Guides are Important!

Through Hey Eleanor, I’ve done some potentially unsafe things. Hunting, scuba diving, a ride along with a Minneapolis K-9 cop. The thing that made all of these experiences feel okay was relying on a trustworthy guide. For example, my friend Georgia Pellegrini’s patience while hunting with me in Arkansas made me feel at ease while holding a shotgun (something I had never done before). Also, a confident and empathetic guide can help push you farther than you’d go on your own. I’d never have been able to kill a bird with my own hands if Georgia hadn’t pushed me to do so. It was a really intense experience, and I’ve never been that challenged in my entire life.

Lesson: Expert guidance gave me the confidence to press on, and ultimately, I tapped into strength I never knew existed.

Leaning Into Fear = Possibilities

By not allowing fear to hold me back, I’ve had the most exciting year+ of my life. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined (mentally and physically). I can do a pull-up. I can make a commitment to something as “drastic” as the Whole30 and stick with it. I tried SCUBA diving (my biggest fear), survived and actually loved it. I’ve cooked amazing meals for my sweetheart, friends, and family. I can talk in front of a big group and not breakout in hives.

I’ve met all sorts of great people, who’ve then introduced me to other great people. By giving a TEDx Talk (so scary!), I met someone who wants to help me publish a book. I also met someone who wants me to help teach a group of at-risk but driven teenage girls how to lean into their own fears. I even met Melissa Joulwan!

But if I had to pinpoint the most important thing I’ve learned, it’s that the only limits in my life are ones that I have created for myself. It’s one thing to know that intellectually, but a whole different thing to have lived it. I feel unstoppable. It’s the best thing ever.

Read more of Molly’s adventures at her funny, sweet, inspiring blog Hey Eleanor.



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