Originally, the idea was to just try doing some things that scare me and see what happens, but somewhere along the process, I decided to pick several and do them within a single day. I picked a Saturday because it’s an off day and because I already have a class in the morning, so I’d be downtown by midday anyway. So, here is the list of things I tried: 

Ask a barista for a “surprise me” drink

Seems like an easy enough task, right? I thought so, too, which is why I put it first, but on the way to the coffee shop, my heart was beating in my chest like a nervous butterfly. Through the glass door, I saw that there were other customers there, which made things worse. “They will hear my weird order!” screamed a panicking voice in my head as I stepped inside. I waited my turn, approached the counter and, mentally bracing myself, placed my order. To my surprise, the barista smiled, asked me a few questions about my preferences and set about making the surprise drink. No frowns or misunderstandings!

As my drink was handed to me by another barista in a few minutes, they both looked at me expectantly: “Do you like it?” I did, and to be fair, with a popcorn-flavored cappuccino, how could I not? Turns out, it was a pleasant experience for all three of us! Smiling from ear to ear, I went along to my next challenge.

Window shopping at a luxury store

If you’ve ever felt nervous at an “expensive” store, you’ll know why this was on the list. For this, I decided to go big and head to Au Pont Rouge, the fanciest place I could think of, bar DLT. Another glass door – and a security guard – saw me in as I entered this world of high fashion. To be honest, I expected this to be scarier: not one assistant came up to me during my expedition and those I did pass just greeted me politely (or ignored me, which was fine). So, it wasn’t really a thrill, but I kept thinking: “Am I in The Devil Wears Prada?” Baby pink dresses, multilayered ballet-like skirts, gold sequins, and high heels… The world of glamor definitely knows how to entertain. 

Compliment a stranger

At first, I thought I’d be able to do this before reaching the department store. But here’s the thing: it’s really hard to just come up to someone and say something, even if it’s something good. What if they are busy contemplating life, are going through something, or are just not keen on talking to strangers? I know, I was overthinking this. I nearly talked to a girl on the subway and another girl in a gorgeous dress who I saw on the street. But eventually, I went into another store (which I wouldn’t have dared enter before), where my assistant happened to have the most beautiful tattoos – which I awkwardly mentioned as I was about to leave. She smiled and thanked me, and I knew all was well. One day, I hope to be able to say nice things to strangers on any day.

A bonus observation: as I was looking for someone I could compliment, I started noticing “compliment-worthy” things in every passerby. Unusual outfits, bold choices, warm smiles, and cool-looking headphones – everyone seemed so unique and full of interesting stories to tell. 

Ask someone on the street for directions or sightseeing advice

For this one, I felt a little weird asking for directions when I actually knew the place like the back of my hand. But still: around St. Isaac’s Cathedral, I asked a woman on the street how I could get to Sennaya Square. She smiled, gave me the directions, and even explained it twice to ensure I got them. My own default route would’ve been different, so I decided to actually follow hers – and what a pleasant walk it was! I discovered a new vintage shop with the most beautiful porcelain, as well as a “witch” shop with all kinds of mineral stones, scented candles, and other magical objects. It felt like I also took a shortcut because I ended up on Sennaya much earlier than I expected – and with my faith in humanity leveled up.

Have a photoshoot in public

My final public challenge was a photoshoot at the Seno space. Normally, I would’ve been mortified, but maybe because of all my pleasant encounters during the day, it didn’t feel scary at all. There weren’t that many people, but I was sometimes in someone’s way – and dared myself to try and pose a little. And nothing happened! I mean, I did get my pictures, but no one looked at me weirdly or rolled their eyes or did anything else that I imagined people would do at someone taking pictures in a public place. Moral of the story: most of the time, scary things are much scarier in your head.

Put on a blindfold for an hour and go about your day

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

Having spent several hours walking about and defeating fears, I came home very nearly exhausted, so, for my last challenge of the day I picked something light. I rolled out my mat, put on my headphones and a blindfold, and did a 50-minute-long yoga session. You might say it’s cheating, but I did sometimes feel I was about to stumble headfirst into a wall. Also, the class featured quite a few balancing postures and tricky transitions, which sometimes had me a little disoriented. However, by the end, I must admit I didn’t even really notice that my eyes were closed: it felt like in an hour, my body adjusted to the space and movement, without any need for visual input. I felt like I found my point of focus within – and that was the best ending of the day. 


It was one of the happiest days in a long time for me. Every next task on the list made me smile wider, eventually leading me to trust the world (and myself) a little more. I never used to fully believe that sense of elation which people describe after having faced their fears, but I get it now. Do things that scare you – they might turn out to be things that make you happy.