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Arts and Entertainment

Boo! Sherman Oaks Writer Wraps a Year of 'Scare Yourself Every Day'

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Sherman Oaks resident Greg Tung just finished a year of scaring himself every day. The self-affirmed introvert challenged himself to do Fear Factor-type stunts—for fun. He's chronicled the adventures on his blog Scare Yourself Every Day (SYED).

Tung completed 365 challenges, including contacting his first crush; working for a night in a Roy Choi restaurant; letting Mormon missionaries in his home; taking an aerobics class with Richard Simmons; performing in a Mortified show; spending a night on Skid Row and eating things that are just as gross as Rocky Mountain Oysters. He recently quit his job as a web designer for NBC/Universal to work on SYED and other projects full-time. (In the midst of a recession...now that's scary!)

We asked Tung a few questions about SYED challenges and most importantly, why?

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What spurred you to create SYED? Were you bored?
Yes! I was bored but not unhappy. I had a decent job. A decent apartment. I could afford to buy myself toys. But every night after work I found myself sitting on my couch playing the latest PS3 game and drinking wine. Then I'd go to sleep, wake up and it would start all over again. It was like a self-imposed Ground Hog's Day. It wasn't a bad life but it really wasn't a good one either.

I do a lot of yoga and I had this Lululemon bag that had all these inspirational quotes on the side. One in particular jumped out at me, "Do one thing every day that scares you." I'd heard the Eleanor Roosevelt quote before but for this time I really thought about it. What an amazing concept. It sounded like a great way to experience life.

But knowing myself, I knew I had to have some external motivation for actually doing this. So I decided I would take that advice literally for a year and write about it so that everything would be public. If I failed, there would be no way to hide it.

What was the scariest thing you did this past year and why?
This is a tough question to answer because there are different kinds of scary. I will cheat and give you three answers. The first was performing at Mortified, a live show where you read from journals you had as a kid. I stood up in front of 300 people and read my intimate and embarrassing thoughts as a 12-year-old going through puberty. Public speaking is a huge fear of mine and to have done Mortified means just so much. It's one of those things I could have never done my entire life if not for this blog.

The second thing was quitting my job to pursue my writing career. I was terrified of losing my steady paycheck. While I wasn't rich, I'd become accustomed to eating dinner out or having drinks with my friends and not worrying about money. That would all change. Also the pressure from my parents to have a steady job is enormous. So that made quitting just that much harder.

The last was spending Christmas Eve as a homeless person. There were at least 10 different scary things that happened that night from panhandling for money to eating a free meal in the heart of Skid Row to befriending a homeless then almost watching him get ready to smoke crack. It was an eye-opening, life-changing night.

What's the one thing that you will never, ever do again?
I will cheat again here. The first is colon hydrotherapy. That was a horrible experience. Painful, disconcerting, embarrassing. It was like having diarrhea for 30 minutes. Awful.

The second was spending eight hours in solitary confinement. I locked myself in my bathroom with absolutely nothing to do: no phone, books, pen or paper. I even removed all the toiletries so I couldn't read labels to pass the time. It was extremely difficult and mentally taxing. I wouldn't do it again. But for both things, I don't regret doing them at all.

What did you learn about yourself in the process?
I definitely learned a lot about myself. I learned that I'm capable of doing a lot more than I ever imagined possible. That fear was the thing holding me back so often. Which is so silly because fear is all in your head. Once you let go of that fear, you are free to do pretty much anything.

I also learned that I could be the person I wanted to be. I've always called myself shy and introverted but I realized that I was just putting labels on myself. I did a lot of things this past year by myself like going to social events or outings. This forced me to break out of my shell. Again, the only thing holding me back was my fear.

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The last thing I learned and perhaps most important was I could change my own life. I didn't have to work in my job forever. I didn't have to be the guy who hid in the corner at parties. And if I wanted to be a writer, I could. Anything is possible.

Now that you're year of SYED is over, what's next?
I thought I would get a moment to rest but when SYED ended and I released my finale video to the Internet, it became a bit viral. Since then I've been working more than ever to try and take advantage of this new found attention. I hope to make a book, TV show or even movie based off SYED.

I also want to create a community site where people can come together to share their experiences scaring themselves. People have written me to say how I inspired them and how they were going to start doing scary things. I'm just one person. Now imagine if there were a place to read hundreds of stories like mine. How inspiring would that? The site could also have tips on finding scary things in your area or even partner people up so they don't have to do it alone. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities of something like this.

The video above is a recap of his scary year.