It’s been a while since my last post. I haven’t been slacking though, honest. I’ve been busy ticking things off my list.
Most recently, I ran the Great Manchester Run and achieved my goal of reaching 10K. (Hooray!) I finally see why some people get hooked on running as the buzz on finishing was immense. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of myself – yes lots of people run a lot further, but it was something I never imagined I’d do. It once again brought home to me a realisation that has been taking shape over the past couple of years – I can be my own worst enemy, and equally I can now kick that enemy’s ass when needs be.
Ever since I was a teenager I was convinced I wasn’t very athletic. There were all sorts of reasons for these assumptions – bullying PE teachers; a few of humiliating experiences trying to execute a forward roll; awkward encounters with the opposite sex stumbling through the Gay Gordons; gangly legs that seemed alien and too long for my body.
I convinced myself sporty activities weren’t for me – I wouldn’t be very good at them. I’d fail. And who likes to fail? Best not try.
I’ve discovered I really, really don’t like to fail. I’ll admit it, I’m scared of failing. It goes a lot deeper than just not wanting to try sport; it’s ingrained in all aspects of life. It has stopped me from trying to make friends (they might not like me), going for jobs (I’m not what they’re looking for), trying new things (I won’t be able to do it, I’d look stupid).
The irony of this is clear; all those missed opportunities are the failures. The failure to try – and usually because of how I’d look to others. I think it’s a common weakness that most of us have to some degree; the real challenge is how to overcome it.
The good news though is the answer is simple. Just. Do. It. (Nike have the right idea). I discovered ignoring my inner voice that has so much to say about failing is the best way to shut it up. Then after, I can have a word…
You said I couldn’t run 10K, but I did. What have you got to say about that now huh?! Nothing? Cat got your tongue?
Yes, it’s worrying I’m talking to myself. But I hope my point is clear – you’re not always right about what you assume you can and can’t do. I constantly surprise myself these days. I find myself at the top of mountains, speaking to strangers at tram stops, on planes to all sorts of places, dangling from a rope at great height, dancing the night away with people I’ve just met, and running over finishing lines.
Part of me thought I couldn’t do those things, and so when I do, it’s one in the face for my doubts. Each time I try and succeed, I chip away at my assumptions about what I can achieve. Even when it doesn’t work out as I hoped, I find the ‘failure’ is never as bad as I imagined. Trying new things becomes gradually less of an ordeal as the doubts have less substance and weight any more.
I’m sharing this not as a huge pat on the back to myself. I’m sharing this because sometimes I really wish others around me would discover this too. It’s a great gift to be free to do as I wish with less fear, and a gift I’d like to pass on. I often hear ‘I could never do that’, or ‘but you’re brave, I don’t have the confidence’. The question I’d throw back is – how do you know? It’s cheesy, but take a chance, grit your teeth, jump in and just do it.