A Platform Designed to Help You Face Your Fears
100 Days Without Fear started as a personal project but will soon evolve into a point-based social network rooted in acts of bravery
Sometimes the wisest words come to us in childhood, simple words that we carry and find the most comfort in as adults. A. A. Milne, an author best known for his books about a teddy bear named Winnie the Pooh, wrote one of the most poignant quotes on self-doubt and fear, “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Fear is inarguably part of the human condition, having fear is inescapable, but facing fear is something different altogether.
Michelle Poller, a young woman from Caracas, Venezuela who moved to New York City in 2014 to pursue a Masters in Branding at the School of Visual Arts, realized that fear had become a major presence in her life. More than just a voice heard off in the wings, fear had become the director. As part of the Masters Program, Poler and her classmates were encouraged to create a 100-day project for themselves. Poler chose to use the assignment as an opportunity to overcome her fears, one day at a time.
Her project, 100 Days Without Fear, has grown from a personal, individual experience into a larger movement that Poler wants anyone struggling with fear, no matter how big or small, to join. PSFK had the opportunity to talk with Poler about the project and where she hopes it will go.
To start her 100-day project, Poler wrote a list of 20 things she was committed to do, including facing her long time fear of dogs and other everyday fears that were limiting her life in some way. Over the course of the project, the fears moved from what Poler described as obvious fears to ones that were deeper and not as easy to overcome, like the fear of losing her parents and the fear of aging.
“At the beginning it was very difficult because facing my fears was something completely new for me, something I had always avoided. But after going through the first 20 or so, I realized that the action itself was never as bad as the fear I had beforehand. That thought helped me most along the way,” Poler told PSFK.
She added, “I was in the denial stage and had a very hard time accepting the fact that I had committed to face all of these fears.” It was only over time that she started to realize what was behind and beyond her fears. Poler shared that “the feeling of accomplishment was always bigger than the feeling of fear and uncertainty; that is what made me want to face my fear every time.
Since completing the project Poler has learned that there are “some fears you can face in a day, others you face over time, and some we’ll never be able to overcome.” When asked if completing the 100 day project, which culminated with Poler giving a TEDx talk in Houston on October 18th, 2015, has changed who she is, she responded “I still consider myself a fearful person and I’m surprised when others say that I’m brave, but facing my fears completely changed my approach to life. I used to see fears as obstacles that needed to be avoided along the way, now I see them as opportunities to do something different.”
The impetus for doing a TEDx talk for Poler was to inspire others and spread her fearless message. She believes that sharing fears is contagious and wants to create a platform for people to be honest, open and ultimately face their fears. Poler explains that “from the first moment I started posting my fears, people have told me that, thanks to my videos, they are now facing their daily fears.” Poler went on to say that she credits the millions of viewers and hundreds of thousands of followers that she had during the project for enabling her to keep facing her own fears.
Poler is now working on 100 Days Without Fear 2.0, which will be a tool to help people to face their fears. She envisions a platform where individuals can share facing their fears as well as challenge friends and family to do the same. Poler explains that when individuals face their fears and share their experience via video, pictures, or simply writing about it, they will have the opportunity to receive points. The more likes they get for facing their fear and inspiring others to do the same, the more points they will receive. Overtime Poler’s idea is for users to exchange accumulated points for rewards to tackle bigger fears that are more costly or out of reach. For example, when a user accumulates a significant number of points, they could get 50% off at a local skydiving company. The discounts will be provided directly from the companies offering the services. Poler is currently speaking with both local and global companies that are interested in being involved with the project.
Creating the 100 Days Without Fear 2.0 platform and immersing herself on an entrepreneurial path is actually a fear of Poler’s. While helping as many people as possible face their fears is the ultimate goal Poler explains that at the moment her project is not generating income, she is still searching for funding and that she is constantly learning. While the road to her goal is unclear Poler was quick to add “I know that I have the passion, and the drive and that will make it happen.” Perhaps the greatest lesson from Poler is most evident in her parting line “I’ve never been more scared in my life, but I’ve never been happier.”