A few days ago, I took on a big challenge – a 25-mile charity walk for work in the Peak National District. I’ve had this walk on my radar for months, and to take something of this size and scale – is a big challenge for me. The most I’ve ever walked was 10 miles, as part of my training leading up to the challenge.
On the morning of the walk, I still hadn’t decided if I would walk or not, or how far I would even attempt to make it to. (You see, my confidence was shaken as a few weeks ago I experienced severe hip injury that paused my training for the challenge.)
I was nervous. Really nervous.
I was nervous to fail. To be the last one across the finish line. To be the ‘bigger’ girl struggling with this physical challenge – when for everyone else it was easy breezy.
Nervous that I would make a fool of myself.
Now, before I continue I should give you a bit of a back story. You see, growing up I was bullied quite a bit – for being too tall or overweight or needing a bra in the 3rd (!) grade or being kind of geeky and awkward. I remember many times returning from school heartbroken over what some of the kids had said about me – all for no reason.
Although it was nearly 30 years ago, those taunts from my experiences of childhood bullying is still something that I carry when I take on new challenges – what if I am made fun of again? What if I fail or make a fool of myself? So many times, my brain goes into ‘flight’ mode (of fight or flight) as a deflector, telling me not to try to even try asking what’s the point?
But on the day of the challenge, I didn’t listen to the negative voices in my head and instead I went for it. I entered ‘fight’ mode.
The walk started with a 45-minute hill climb, during which I kept repeating, “I am a warrior. I am capable. I am a warrior.”
I watched the majority of the group grow further and further away, and I had to keep reminding myself to walk my own walk – and that comparison is the thief of joy.
And I kept going – past the first check point a mile 8. When I reached mile 10, I nearly started crying as I was about to beat my personal best for distance. And with the horizon clear, and the views of the Peak National District – I was inspired.
Step by step, I grew in my confidence in myself – and I was quickly reminded that those negative thoughts and inner demons are wrong: it is always worth trying. It is always worth going the distance and it doesn’t matter what place I finish, if I try.
In the end, I couldn’t finish the whole walk so I had to drop off a bit early – resulting in a walk alongside a mountain creek with boulders and fields of sheep – not a bad detour I must say!
And when I arrived at the final checkpoint with the guides, by van I was greeted with cheers of support from colleagues and I felt an absolute wave of pride and gratitude.
Walked away with some powerful lessons about myself. How much more I can handle and what I am truly capable of. And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to prove our critics and naysayers wrong – even when that’s ourselves. It’s pretty easy to say that this challenge has changed my outlook on life and energized me to take on other challenges I was too afraid to attempt previously – now I am thinking, ‘Why not?’
This quote perfectly sums it up:
Here’s to taking on big challenges that scare us. Challenges that have us bringing out the fighting spirit in us, and to tell those negative thoughts to go to hell.
When was the last time you took on a challenge that scared you? How did you handle it?