Truth and Dare: When fear holds you back


In Truth and Dare posts we share a true story, then a dare for our readers. If you take the dare, share your experience in the comments to be entered in this month's giveaway.


In the middle of the track season my freshman year of high school, one of our best runners needed a pace buddy for her 400-meter run. It was near the end of a workout, and everyone was sprawled on the ground near the track. Coach called for volunteers. We looked at each other, but no one spoke up.

No one wanted to run with Molly.

It wasn't that we didn't like Molly; she was one of the nicest girls on the team. The problem was that Molly was a born runner. Worse, she was a born distance sprinter. Compared to the rest of us, she was a long-limbed gazelle who made a 400 look like a cake walk. Not only would being her pace buddy involve moving (not a favorite activity at the end of a workout), but no one had a chance of keeping up with her.

Coach started to turn red, something we were used to seeing. The color would start near his hair line, then work down his face. Soon, he’d been spitting and making us run laps.

I decided to take one for the team. But I would do it on my own terms. I would volunteer to run with Molly, but I wouldn't push myself. There wasn't a chance I'd win the race, so why try?

I raised my hand.

Within seconds, Coach had Molly and I lined up on the track. I crouched down, waited for the starting call.

“On your mark, get set, go!”

Molly took off. I scrambled to follow.

Her long legs ate up the bouncy red track, taking her halfway around before I managed to hit the quarter mark. The girls cheered us on and I followed Molly at my own pace, which was closer to a fast jog than a sprint.

Coach was beside himself. “What are you doing?”  He hopped and bobbed at the starting point like a cranky lobster, spitting and waving his arms. “Move, Gallagher. Move!”

His words rolled over me like water. I was convinced that I was doing the right thing. By pacing Molly - or trying to - I got the team out of running laps, but by holding back I avoided all of the unpleasantness that came with running full-out - the sweating, panting for breath, the nausea. And even if I did want to go through all of that, there was no way I could beat Molly. She was so much faster than me.

“Go, go, go!” My teammates chanted.

Molly tucked her elbows in and stretched her long legs even further, her feet dancing over the track so that it looked as though she was walking on air. I followed, padding along like I didn't have a care in the world.

Molly crossed the finished line and our teammates cheered. She slowed to a walk, caught her breath, then turned to watch my progress. I passed the halfway point with a smile. Then the three-quarters mark. I wasn't even out of breath. 

By this point, Coach was purple. When I finally did crossed the finish line, he threw down his baseball hat in one direction and his clipboard in the other. He didn't give me my time - ha - but instead stomped off to the water fountain.

I slowed to a walk, a little out of breath, but not much. Molly joined me. “Thanks for running with me,” she said.

“No problem,” I beamed. 

She gave me a look - confusion? disappointment? - then walked away with a little wave. I watched her go, feeling out of sorts, but not sure why. The feeling got worse before it got better.

Later, I realized that even if I had run as fast as I could, I may not have beaten Molly, but I would at least have had the satisfaction of knowing that I tried. And by not pushing myself, I lost the chance to at least feel good about my effort.

Since then, I've come to decide that true adventure means doing something you're afraid to do, even when you don't know what the outcome will be. Being adventurous doesn't have to mean climbing mountains or traveling around the world, it can mean simply pushing yourself on the track, or taking a chance when you know you might not succeed. Heck, it can mean starting a new site and posting photos of yourself in pirate regalia on the internet. :)


This month, I dare you to do something that scares or intimidates you - whether it's writing a short story, going for a walk by yourself, sharing a blog post, taking a dance class, or running full-out in a race you know you can't win. Give it everything you have - only you know what that will look like - and just go for it! 

Share and win

Share your personal dare in the comments for one entry in this month's Truth and Dare giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Earn more entries by:

  • Posting your dare experience on your blog (be sure to link to your post in the comments), +3
  • Sharing your dare via Twitter (use the hashtag #idareyou and mention @YABuccaneers), +1
  • Sharing your dare via Facebook (use the hashtag #idareyou and mention YA Buccaneers), +1


So, what's your dare?