Many of my favourite experiences have started the same way. I see something – an event, a race, a course, which is 10 months away and think “that sounds like fun”. So I sign up, excited at doing something new and feeling pretty badass. Then the day arrives and I find myself standing on a jetty, or the start line, or climbing into a minibus and I think “what the f**k have I let myself in for?” My heart pounds and my palms sweat as I realise just how inexperienced and out of my depth I really am. Who am I to have thought that I could do this crazy thing?
And these have always been the best things.
From learning to sail, to driving a minibus (having not driven a car since passing my test, 12 years ago), to climbing my first wall, the things I feel the best about have all started with me utterly bricking it.
Apparently I have 2 states of confidence – one which, from the safety of my sofa, believes that I am the ultimate badass, able to take on anything and anyone, go anywhere and do anything I can set my mind to. The other one, facing the harsh reality of doing tough things, remembers the times I tried to go for a run and barely made it to the end of the road before feeling sick and dizzy, and how some teenagers on a bus once (age 28) made me cry.
While the first one may be overly influenced by all of the inspirational stories and films I fill my life with, I’m starting to learn to trust it a little more, because I’ve discovered that, actually it’s not that far wrong.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it than just deciding to so something like running in a race, or climbing a mountain, and I don’t want to do-down the hard physical and mental work, as well as the knowledge required to go and have adventures, but if you’re prepared to work hard and prepare well, actually achieving something that feels impossible isn’t so tough.
And to go from knee-trembling, voice quivering fear, to triumph, is the greatest high I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t think I could, but I did. By pushing outside of my comfort zone, I’ve explored the edges of my abilities and discovered what I’m truly capable of. And I haven’t found my limits yet.
Each time I do it I grow more confident too. I figure if I can reverse a minibus around a corner, I can probably sail on to a pontoon backwards too, right? If I can run for an hour in the sun, I can ski into the wind for 5 hours, surely? Knowing that I’ve been here before, scared and unsure, and that I’ve made it through really helps me through each new challenge. Each discomfort I face helps me find the next one a little more bearable.
Facing my fear, and following it, has made me grow in so many ways, and has given me so much joy. So it is, that I’ve come to welcome that fear before I take on a new challenge.
It tells me I’m following the right path.
Mountain leader in training, Skipper, sometimes Viking and total coffee addict. Runner, hiker, Girlguiding leader, animal lover. British/Irish, aspirant Norwegian.