Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fears


I have been called fearless. Brave.
But the truth is, we all have our fears and I am no different.

Words that have always given me perspective and pushed me forward: “Courage means being afraid, but going on anyhow.” (Dan Rather)

I was a scaredy-cat as a little girl. I was afraid of the dark, of heights, of ghosts, wild animals, spiders, getting lost, the water, sharks, rejection...
Somewhere along the way I learned to stop letting fear stop me. And that has made all the difference. It has taken me on 3.5 thru-hikes. It has taken me into and out of relationships. Career changes. Race distances in the triple digits. I have been afraid of them all, and yet, each has made me stronger as I overcame those fears.

I am still afraid of many things. Some days it seems like an inconceivable notion that I sleep in the woods alone. That I have faced grizzly bears, wolves, bobcats, rattlesnakes, advanced hypothermia and dehydration, etc. That I risk security in finances, relationships, and life to pursue a life that John Muir would be proud of.

I wonder daily what I am thinking taking on a task so huge. A challenge so big. Who am I to think that I can do this?

Even so, I will step onto the trail and face fear.

Fear of:
Rattlesnakes
Heat exhaustion
Dehydration
Pain
Injury
Cougars
Things that go bump in the night
Hunger
Failure.

Scenarios run through my head constantly. Ways I could die out there. Ways I could fail. How hard it will be to press on. How easy quitting will feel. Wondering how the exhaustion of finishing 1,000 miles in 3 weeks will feel when I know I have 1,700 to go. The numbers scare me. Can I really do this?

The truth is, I don’t know if I can or not. However, I think I can, and that is more than half the battle. And, as immortalized in the words of Churchill, allowing the fear to overwhelm and paralyze me is the only thing that I truly need to be afraid of.

I am learning to embrace the fears. To accept them as ways to learn and grow. I am forging a mindset now that I can carry with me in the darkest, hardest moments. This will be more than a physical challenge. This will be more than a mental challenge. Whether I succeed in the ultimate goal or not I will push myself beyond my current limits and find a stronger, braver woman in the process. I am blessed and thankful for that opportunity, no matter how scary it seems.