When was the last time you were a little scared? I’m not talking about those times when you were young and you thought there was a bogeyman in your closet or when you were older and you had to drive in a blizzard, or maybe you fell into a lake and were worried about drowning. All of these are very stressful moments and could evoke a fight or flight action.

When I refer to being scared I am talking about those moments in your life that occur interviewing for a job, going to the boss and asking for a raise, moving to a new city, taking your first college class, meeting someone on a date you had never previously met or giving a speech. In all of these situations we were a bit scared but as a result of these experiences, we grew from them. This is a good type of stress.

The term “eustress” was created by Hungarian endocrinologist, Hans Selye. Selye views this type of stress as “a positive stress that is healthful, improves our well being, and results in satisfaction.”

As a Peace Corps volunteer I faced many eustress moments. It seems to me that this was a planned part of the total Peace Corps experience because you were expected to grow not only in your knowledge of another culture but in your character. Experiences in the military are similar.

I remember being told that we had to find our own place to stay. Here we were in a totally different culture, having to speak another language, working in a big city of over a million people, not having a car or knowing the bus routes, not knowing too much about anything in the country and knowing just a little about our assignments.

I found the part of the city where I was to work and just began knocking on doors and asking people if they knew where I could rent a room. My Spanish was not good but I stumbled through it and within a day, I miraculously found a room with an elderly Italian family.

All of this experience of having to find a place improved my well-being and my confidence grew. My next eustress moments occurred when I visited my sports clubs for the first time and when I met my players of various ages.

This proved to be even a greater opportunity for growth because I’m sure they were expecting a six foot five guy from the states who could dunk a basketball and not a five foot ten guy who could barely jump and touch the net and whose own basketball skills were not much better than his ability to speak Spanish.

We all have faced many moments of eustress. The point to be made is that without them we don’t grow. It’s good to be a bit scared. Without a bit of trepidation, our life remains stagnant.

All of us at times have avoided situations that may have resulted in our being a better person had we taken the time to experience them. You are probably thinking about some at this very moment.

As a writer, I am pretty much an introvert. They say most writers are. That’s the way the Creator made me. My brain enjoys being alone, writing, creating, thinking. On the other hand, I am also an educator. It’s difficult to be a successful educator as an introvert. It’s almost impossible. I had to force my brain to operate in a different world. It took many scary moments before I gained confidence to face those eustress moments with optimism. These moments were compounded with having to overcome a speech impediment at the same time.

Here are some things to remember. First, it’s good to be little scared when we face new situations. These experiences make us grow in confidence and self-worth.

Second, it’s important that we don’t avoid situations that cause us to grow. I always told my speech students, “What’s the worst that can happen to you? No one is going to throw tomatoes at you or ‘boo’ you. In fact, people will be impressed that you had the fortitude to give a speech.”

After you do face these situations and go through with them, think how much better you will feel. Okay, let’s say you didn’t get the job and maybe you didn’t do as well in the interview as you would have liked, but you did it and you are better now than you were before.

Third, all of us want to do the best we can in life. We want to live a meaningful and productive life. The Creator didn’t put us on earth just to wait for someone to deliver a pot of gold to us. If we want that pot of gold or whatever it represents (ie., good family, good job, good career, good life), we have to work at it and that means putting ourselves in situations that are a bit scary. So, don’t be afraid. It’s a good thing.

(Note: Hans Selye passed away in 1982. He was nominated 17 times for the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine but never received it.)

Riddle: Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it? (Nothing.) If you aren’t scared at times throughout life, nothing of much good will happen.

100 percent graduation

We are proud to add these businesses and organizations for supporting the 100% movement: Wes Plumbing and Heating, Red Lake Elderly Nutrition, Bemidji Welders Supply, Alterations Plus, Mediterranean Gyros & Hummus, A List DJ - Gregg Erickson, Northview Manor, LLC, Fur Armor - John Mueller, Minn. CEP.

Our students are more likely to appreciate school when:

  • They are challenged.
  • They are challenged to be creative.
  • They are challenged to occasionally do a brain teaser.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.