Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

ExScarEd - title Card

My son Dylan just started first grade last week.   

In the weeks leading up to it, he coined a new word to describe how he was feeling: ExScaredEd. A combination of excited and scared, he said that was the best way to express how he was approaching this new year.

I love it.  

I love, love, love it.

Since then, he added “ExNerveEd” to describe being excited and nervous, and “ExSKYted” to express being extra-excited. Which are both pretty cool too.

But I’m stuck on ExScaredEd. Because isn’t that such a powerful emotion to think about? And especially when starting something new, like first grade! So many unknowns… a brand-new teacher, a brand-new set of classmates, a brand-new desk, brand-new rules and routines. New supplies and new clothes. A new schedule. Or at least one that is new—again, having been abandoned for the summer months. And other new-again things, like getting on the bus, and walking through the school halls, and navigating the cafeteria. 

I was ExScaredEd for him, just thinking about all those new and new-again things.  

As one of my favorite children’s book characters, Scaredy Squirrel, points out, the unknown is a scary place. And it can be tempting to avoid all together, given how scary it feels. Because the whole point of the unknown is that it’s NOT KNOWN, right? You don’t know what’s there. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if there will be snacks.

Yes, the fear of the unknown can be powerful enough to turn us away, to keep us safe and cozy, squarely in the middle of all the KNOWNS… whether we actually like those knowns all that much or not. 

But we often forget about the exciting part.

We forget that in the unknown there are possibilities. Maybe we’ll love what’s there. Maybe we’ll discover things we didn’t even know existed. Maybe we’ll grow, change, laugh, dance. Maybe there will be Thin Mints.

Yes, the unknown is scary. It can be very, very scary. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s good to feel scared! After all there might be a big furry green monster eating all those Thin Mints before you even get there.

But if you believe that’s all it is, well, you just might be missing out.

Dylan’s fully ExSKYted about first grade now that he’s a week in. He’s loving it. And I think because he allowed himself to be ExScaredEd going in, he stayed open to whatever adventure was ahead.

So if you’re facing any sort of unknown right now, and if you’re feeling scared, I invite you to take a page out of Dylan’s book and try on ExScaredEd for size instead.

How can you step into the unknown today, fully ExScaredEd?



Wings & Whimsy Challenge: Ignite

Challenge: Is there something unknown ahead of you that's
making you feel scared? Take some time to write about it and
see if you can find the exciting parts, too. Tell me about it in
the comments below, or tweet it to me @ErikaPetrelli1

Buy the Book

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.