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Halloween Haunt: On scaring yourself & taking risks


“I can’t go through with this,” I said in between bouts of shaky laugher. The looming two-story warehouse stood ominously under the overcast night sky. With only a few more feet before the front of the line, my two friends and I linked arms in solidarity and watched the purple strobe lights dance on the outside walls above the entranceway. I had a feeling the werewolves inside Backwoods Hunting Resort & Spa weren’t going to give me the massage I’ve needed since Week 1.

I’ve never been a fan of haunted mazes, especially not ones with professional actors in full costume, and yet I bought a Cardinal Nights ticket to California’s Great America Halloween Haunt anyway. My experience inside Backwoods consisted of collapsing onto the floor of the first room, pushing my guy friend ahead to scope out the next room and shrieking at everything that moved. Why would I put myself through the stress of being scared when I could’ve been in my dorm room watching “Hocus Pocus” instead?

There’s something exhilarating about being at the edge of your comfort zone. When I rode a large roller coaster with loops and corkscrews later that night, I panicked all the way to the top of the hill. My friends laughed at my embarrassing state of fright, but I was quite impressed that I didn’t faint during the ride (although I’m sure my animated expressions and minute-long scream were funny).

Ever since I’ve gotten to Stanford, I’ve made a habit of scaring myself. From moving across the country to attending Eurotrash for an entire ten minutes, I’ve gone out on a limb a hundred times more than I had in my pre-Stanford life. Of course, I’ll always be the quiet, cautious one with a book in hand, but seeing my peers be courageous every day has motivated me to take risks of my own, even if they’re as small as running through a haunted maze with my eyes closed half the time.


Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997 ‘at’

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