I Double Dare You

Posted On: 06.28.12

Okay, I’m probably dating myself, but do any of you remember the Nickelodeon show Double Dare? I don’t remember much about it other than that there was a surplus of gooey green slime and that I loved it.

Anyway. Tangent.

Don’t you think half the battle is daring to begin? Why are we so paralyzed by the thought of starting something? Are we afraid of failure, of learning that we aren’t good enough, that we don’t have the gumption to follow through?

But how sad is it if we never dare to begin?

Are you intimidated by the idea of beginning something new? Is there something that you wish you had the guts to begin? Does it scare you that you might never begin? What shows do your kids watch? Is it just me or are they not nearly as innocent and fun as Double Dare of latter day?

Oh, and...

  • Your Ex Is Engaged... My friend and blogeague Meg has posted a wonderful and honest piece today about learning that her first boyfriend is engaged... I loved this post so much that I wanted to share it here. Haven't we all been there? Learning something that shouldn't affect us, but does? {I think I need to write a whole post on this one!}
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45 Comments for: "I Double Dare You"
  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley

    Yes indeed it is 5:36am and I am up and commenting on my own post. Is there something wrong with this picture? Perhaps :)

    Anyway, along the lines of this post about beginning new things, I am really excited to tell you about starting something… In a couple of weeks, I am beginning a screenwriting class! Husband and I are going to take the class together on Tuesday nights – online – and make it like a weekly creative date. I have zero clue what it takes to write a screenplay or if I would ever want to write one, but I am curious, and think it is good for the heart and soul to try new things. And how much fun to do something like this with my man?

    Anyway, I will keep you posted on how it goes, and what I learn – I am sure there will be some wonderful life messages buried in the lectures – but was excited about all of this and wanted to share. Okay, off to enjoy the approximately 21 minutes before the wee ones wake up!

    • Laura

      Oooo, screenwriting sounds like so much fun!

      I definitely think starting is half the battle. Maybe more than half.

      I guess the follow-up question is: how do you get yourself to start?

      • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

        That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? How to start… I don’t know but maybe if we acknowledge that there is something valuable in simply starting, in making the first step, and try not to even think about continuing or finishing, we will be more apt to begin? I really don’t know. I think I am just realizing how tragic it is that most likely all of us have dreams inside us and things we would like to tackle and we might never start, you know? All certainly worth thinking about. And glad you enjoy my little quote photo secret :)

        • Laura

          Not thinking about continuing or finishing is such a good idea. I once read that the key to getting over procrastination is to say, “OK, I’m going to do it for 15 minutes.” Everyone can do 15 minutes. And once you start, you’re halfway there.
          I also think sometimes we discount the effort that it takes to start. We beat ourselves up for procrastinating, for pondering instead of just doing, but the pre-start period is part of the work, too. I remember being in college & having trouble writing my senior essay. I had done all this research, and I just couldn’t get myself to just write the thing. I remember sitting in my professor’s office, embarrassed & unsure of myself, having confessed that no, I hadn’t written a single word. She smiled & said, “It took me four months to write the first sentence of my dissertation. Once you start, you’re almost finished.” I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe it’s not always this dramatic leap of faith. Maybe we don’t always just jump in. Maybe some of us first have to gaze out at the edge, tip toe towards it, peek down, and distract ourselves enough not to realize that we’ve actually taken the leap until we’re in the air, at which point, the free fall takes over, and there’s nothing left to do than to let the law of physics do its thing. …which then makes me think, if you don’t realize the leap that you’re taking, does it still count as taking a leap? If part of the problem of starting is this fear of failure, then maybe tricking yourself into thinking that this actually isn’t a big deal at all (when it actually is) is the biggest leap of faith at all.

          • Laura

            Oh, and yes! I LOVE the photo quote secret. thanks for sharing. :)

          • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

            Of course!

          • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

            I have been doing a bit of trickery this week… I have been waking up earlier than the girls to do a bit of fiction writing. I say to myself, I will write for twenty minutes and before I know it, more than an hour has passed and the kids are up and we are in the full swing of morning mayhem. I do think that we should focus on taking small steps, chipping away at big projects… Thanks, Laura :)

    • Meg

      Love the idea of your creative weekly date — that sounds like so much fun. Screenwriting is intriguing — can’t wait to see what you (both) come up with!

      • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

        Meg – I have no idea what screenwriting is, or whether it will even appeal to me. I just really like the idea of taking a class, of learning something new, and can only imagine that the course will enhance my other writing. We shall see!

    • Dara

      How great! It’s far easier than writing a novel, IMHO. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. Have FUN! :)

      • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

        I totally thought of you and your hubby when I signed up for the course! I am sure I will have many questions – technical and interpersonal – in other words, how is it to “work” (even for fun in this instance) with one’s other half? I’m sure you have some good stories, no? :)

  2. Meg

    Oh, “Double Dare” was my show! My sister and I were absolutely obsessed. Brings back good memories just thinking about our lazy summer days at my grandparents’ house, nothing more important to do than enjoy the Nickelodeon afternoon line-up.

    I’m definitely intimidated by just beginning — something that manifests itself often in my writing. Many of us probably feel that way, though — the burden of trying to actually sit down and begin crafting the book you’ve imagined for so long. I recently talked about the memoir I want to write (yes, memoir — and I’m only 26… but it’s a humorous piece, I promise) with my mom, and she told me to give myself a deadline.

    After our chat, I was so gung-ho to get started! Really, really pumped. “I’ll make my deadline Sept. 1,” I told her, figuring that would give me plenty of time to get organized and get crackin’. That was months ago. And now it’s almost July . . . and I have yet to write a single word. Every time I open that blank Word doc, a flood of panic washes over me. I don’t know why. I write daily at work. I write daily on my blog. What is it about that Word doc that’s so intimidating?

    Maybe I’ll “start” the book in an email to myself, copying and pasting the text to Word later. In fact, that could work . . .

    P.S. Thank you so much for linking to my post today — I debated even sharing that, wondering if it was too personal or would make me sound whiny, but I’m glad I took the leap. I really appreciate it. xo

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      First of all, your post today is great and I am sure so many people will love it, and relate. Isn’t it amazing that the posts that we hesitate with most are usually the ones that resonate most with readers? And I so love the idea that you will begin your book by writing emails to yourself. Isn’t it fascinating that we are much more likely to tackle these big things by starting small, and casually? I often jot notes in my iPhone that turn into posts or scenes from my novel. There is something so liberating about commencing in this tiny, un-intimidating way.

      Good luck with the memoir! I don’t think you need to apologize for being so young and wanting to write one, btw. We all have stories worth telling, right?

      xox

  3. A few months ago, I wrote a post about starting a senior adult ministry at a nursing home. I like to step out of my comfort zone, but you’re absolutely right when you say it’s the biggest hinderance to getting anywhere. Starting is half the battle. Good luck with your screenwriting!

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Wow. The idea of starting a senior adult ministry is unique and intriguing! I think that we should always challenge ourselves to step outside our comfort zones, as you say. Now we all need to brainstorm together and figure out that magic formula for beginning. If only, right? Thanks, Travis! Oh, and I am not sure there is any true screenwriting in my future. I think my true loves are fiction and blogging, but I guess you never know, right?

  4. Dara

    Indeed fear of failure is the problem. People say they are going to start doing something — write, start a business, take up surfing — and instead they start popping out with excuses instead. If only what they said they were going to start doing is coming up with great excuses!

    I truly believe the problem is, once a person TRIES to accomplish a dream or a goal, that person can quite easily fail. And the fear of failure is so paralyzing, they can’t even begin.

    I’m not one of those writers who tells other young writers “only do this if you can think of nothing else you could possibly do with your life.” Rather I tell them the only thing stronger than fear of failure is the belief that you only regret the things in life you do not TRY.

    Two years ago, I went skydiving. I was petrified. But I overcame the fear by just closing my eyes and taking a literal leap of faith. Falling through the sky that day is a visceral memory I often use when I’m staring at a blank page at the beginning of a new project.

    All I have to do is jump in.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Wow. The skydiving metaphor is so good because, yes, there are times when I am facing the blank page and I just do it – I dive and trust and it does, in many ways, feel like falling. I have noticed that I go in and out of confidence about starting new things. There are moments when I cling to the familiar and it feels very cozy and then there are days when I look around at people and the world and crave trying new things, commencing new adventures. I guess this makes sense though? The ebb and flow of curiosity and creativity?

      All of that said, I will never go skydiving. Way too much of a scaredy-cat. Wonder how many of my readers have done this or other equally terrifying things??

  5. Kristen

    Double Dare – of course I remember! No one could ever find the flags in the slimy nose or the saucy pizza. They just don’t make shows like this anymore.

    Is there something I wish I had the guts to begin – yes! I really want to move ahead in my career, but the position I want requires public speaking – a ton of it and I’m terrified. I think I’m going to join Toastmasters or something similar to help aliviate my fear of speaking in front of people. I have to do something if I want to have the guts to take the next step forward.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      I don’t know the details, but doesn’t the fear of public speaking rank super high among human fears? I think so. I think it is wonderful that you are pondering steps you can take to minimize this fear, and move forward. I’ve never heard of Toastmasters? What is it? Yes, I can Google it, but I’m feeling a shred lazy. Thanks, Kristen!

      • Kristen

        No worries. Sometimes it’s easier to ask.

        Toastmasters is an organization that teaches communication (i.e. public speaking) and leadership skills. Various groups meet throughout the country/world. Coincidently, one group meets in my office building every Monday. I think I need to check it out.

  6. Stand up. I will do it, someday. Heck, it’s on the bucket list! And it terrifies me- which is part of the excitement. And yes, Double Dare is way more fun and innocent than the shows of today!

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      I love stand up! And have so so much respect for those people who can get up there on that bright stage and try to be funny. I hope you do it one day! And indeed there is something about terror that adds to the ultimate exhilaration, huh? Thanks!

  7. Leslie

    Yes, beginning is hard! Sometimes continuing is hard too, but so often I find once I begin something that it’s not as hard as I thought. And that makes me wonder why I don’t just “begin” more often.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      I really have been pondering this all day… Why we don’t begin things more often if beginning is indeed half the battle? I think it must be that if we don’t begin something, then we can’t possibly fail at it. But the thought of never beginning, of playing it safe all the time? Kind of depressing, no? Thanks, Leslie!

  8. Tessa

    What I have found, about this rather thorny issue, is that, yes, while it IS all about the fear of failure, I now know that I actually set myself up for failure – by setting the bar too high, by having too glorified a vision of the way I want to be, by taking on too much – and I do this to myself – it’s not the result of anyone else’ expectations (or society’s…….). The part I am worst at / or really good at – depends which way you look at it – is the “glorified self” thing – it seems that I like to view/imagine/envision myself as SuperWoman – and, therein lies the problem.

    I just started a summer holiday and, in the runup to the event, I was constantly making all sorts of decisions eg. I’ll get up early and exercise for 90 minutes each day, I’ll do something madly cultural each day, I’ll read that pile of books that I’ve been longing to get to, I’ll go swimming at some new places I haven’t been to before, I’ll catch up on all emails, I’ll clean out all the closets and springclean the apartment from one end to the other (the vision here includes washing and cleaning EVERYTHING)- and I’ve only mentioned the first six things from a list of about 35 very ‘bright ideas’.

    I’ve learned to take a step back from all of this and say “hey, wait, you know what, I’ll just do 50% of that”. In the case of my summer holiday planning I said “Hey, you know what, I am not going to do any of that until I’m good and ready.” I’m happy to report that I am on day six of my holiday and I haven’t so much as even looked at “the list” yet – I’ve been far too busy reading and commenting on your blog !!

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Another awesome comment! I so so get it about setting the bar WAY too high… I do this all the time. And then I wonder if I should stop expecting so much because in so many ways I think it is these sky high expectations that have helped me accomplish some things in my life, you know? I so love that you have been procrastinating by spending time here. A huge and happy compliment!!

    • Laura

      Tessa! This whole great expectations thing makes me think about a lot of the discussion surrounding the recent Atlantic article on whether woman can have it all. Some people argue that maybe the problem is the very idea of “having it all.” Maybe we don’t ever get it all, maybe the point is to keep reaching. Maybe if we reach our highest expectations, then there’d be nothing left. In that sense, maybe it’s the flip side of the fear of failure: the fear of actually succeeding. I’m not sure about any of this stuff, but I do think that expectations are a tricky thing. I’ve always been a huge dreamer, and so much of what motivates me are those dreams/goals/expectations (whatever you want to call them). Maybe it’s not about lowering the bar, but about realizing, if we don’t reach that bar, that maybe we set it too high. But here’s the other thing: you probably wouldn’t set the bar so high if you didn’t think that somehow, somewhere, you could reach it. If you truly believe that the bar can be reached, then a small failure is really an invitation to try again, to readjust, to keep going. It can be hard to do that (and I’m definitely not one of those people who can do that easily — I feel like I’m in a constant state of assessing whether I just set the bar too high or whether I should keep trying), but to me, setting the bar too low is just as sad as never trying.

      • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

        Ah, the Atlantic article… So so fascinating and worth chewing on. I have a draft post called “Having It All Is Hard” and guess how many words are in said draft? Zero. A conspicuous sign that I have no idea where to begin on this one… I agree that setting the bar too low is so sad. Thanks for your comments, Laura!

        • Dara

          As a working mom, I’d love to hear what you and your readers have to say about the Atlantic article. It started quite a lively conversation in our writers room the other day (we are one of only a handful of shows run by two women, both of whom have have kids). I’ll tell them to chime in with their conclusion if you write the post.

          • Dara

            I’ll chime in. Jeesh I wish I could edit my posts after I post them here.

          • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

            I so want to write a post on this one and will, but it almost feels too big, you know? I don’t even know where to start. As I said in another comment, I have a draft post entitled “Having It All Is Hard” – because in many ways, in important ways, I do feel like I have it all – I have a career I’m passionate about that is pretty flexible and I have my girls… But it is infinitely more complicated than this. Infinitely. Soon, I hope! Interested to know what you and your colleagues – and all my readers – think about this one.

      • Tessa

        Hi Laura, Personally, as a perfectionist, setting the bar too low just doesn’t happen for me but, in setting the bar too high, I’m always taking on way more than is humanly possible to achieve. I mean, look at the list of 35 things on my vacation “to do” list. I’d be worn out after a week if I tried to stick to that schedule.

        I’m achieving stuff all the time and also very, very good at just adding, adding, adding more. So I’ve learned now to take the step back and say “why do I think I need to be doing this?” and, many times, I can’t find a reason, it’s just ‘cos it sounds like a good idea – and I do, in a way, like to do it all and hate missing out on anything. But the brakes need to be put on to stop me taking on just far too much.

        I’m not saying that women can’t have it all. Of course we can. But we need to be mindful of the bits of the “all” that we take on, because “having it all” does not literally mean that and that’s where I think folks can go wrong.

        After burning myself out totally from just doing too much, I rebuilt my life from the bottom up, only including absolutely necessary activities required in my various roles : home, relationships, work…… Now I try to do ‘better at less’ and concentrate on the things that are really important to me. I’ve become somewhat of a minimalist in many areas of my life and found it to be very ‘freeing’.

        I also liked the idea that you touched on about “having it all and then’s there’s nothing left”. Yes, I’ve heard this one before, but honestly, for me personally, just the odd moments of having absolutely nothing to do, absolutely nothing to strive for, absolutely nothing to plan etc., are total, utter bliss. I certainly don’t fear the ‘nothingness’. I actually want to be able to ‘sit and stare into space’ – but from choice – not because I am so exhausted or overwhelmed by life.

        Thanks, ladies (you too, Aidan, down below). An interesting discussion.

  9. Monica

    Fear is what keeps us from taking the first step. The first step is always the hardest, I know, but instead of focusing on the fear of taking that first step, we should use that time to do other things, like prayer, meditation, spending time with family and friends, etc. That way we don’t have to preoccupy ourselves with the fear of finally taking that leap of faith, I like to call it. :) Thanks for inspiring me, your posts always make me think from the heart.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Thanks so much, Monica. If only we could all have the faith to begin things that matter to us. Sometimes, I wonder what life would look like without fear. Hard to imagine, right?

  10. Aidan, the weekly creative date is a great idea. Anything that we do to improve and grow is inspiring. Have fun! :)

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Thanks, Ayala! I think it will be fun and really interesting too as we have never done something like this before. I shall keep you – and everyone here – posted.

  11. I don’t remember watching Double Dare but I am pretty sure that it didn’t start until I was finishing high school or in college so I was a little past that.

    I definitely have been making an effort to push myself outside of my comfort zone. It is awkward, but I think it is part of the grand adventure of life and that they should lead to some very cool places.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Yes, I think that it is often the awkward and uncomfortable things that are most important for us to do. And rewarding. Can’t wait to hear about the cool places.

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