First off, I want to apologize for how sporadic my posts have been lately. The new job I am working had a crazy 7 week training schedule which left me with little time for anything else. Things are now starting to slow down, though, and I am trying to find more time for writing and (of course) video editing!
I did something last week that really inspired me to sit down and write this post. It inspired me because a) it was really scary for me to do and b) it seemed to be symbolic of what I have been going through and pushing myself to do over the last few months.
I went on a hike alone. I went on a hike alone in a conservation area that I had never been to before in a city which I am very unfamiliar. I was scared to go by myself, but I did it anyway – and it was incredible.
Let me back track a little.
Last week, I was travelling in the Niagara region for work. On this particular day, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining and there was a bit of a cool breeze, but by noon it was very warm out. I was done my last presentation of the day by around 2:30pm and I knew that it was too nice of a day to spend the rest of it cooped up inside a hotel room. I also knew that I wanted to do something to get my blood pumping since I am trying to get back into a more intense and frequent workout schedule – especially as part of the Tone It Up Fit For Fall Challenge! So, I started googling to find nice hiking trails in the area.
I settled on a placed called Rockway Conservation Area in Lincoln, Ontario. The reviews online said that this park had some of the best views of the Niagara Escarpment and trails of different lengths and levels of difficulty. Plus, my GPS said it was only about 20 minutes away from my hotel!
I love hiking by myself. Once I get a good pace going, nothing makes the stress melt away faster than jamming out to a high energy playlist as I breathe in the fresh air and take in the scenery around me. Going for long, brisk walks and runs is my favourite type of cardio workout. I find it to be almost meditative, an opportunity for me to self-reflect and process some of my thoughts from the day. However, my walks are usually in and around my home, almost always in familiar areas and places. When I do venture out and try a new trail, most often it is either a) still in a city or general area that I know or b) with someone else.
There were a million thoughts running through my mind as to why I shouldn’t go.
What if I got lost? No one would know where I was or be able to find me.
What if I get assaulted or raped?
Will my van be okay left alone? What if it gets broken into or stolen?
What if I look stupid and this is a waste of time? What if I can’t find the park or trails?
What if I am not a strong enough hiker to do this? I recently sprained my ankle – what if I got hurt again or got stuck somewhere along the trail?
I could go on for a while. I am really good at coming up with reasons not to do something or the worst possible outcomes for any scenario. A therapist once explained to me that this was a nasty habit of catastrophizing, something that often comes along with an anxiety disorder. Normally, these type of thoughts have created a kind of dependency in me – I lean on others to provide me with the reassurance I need to try new things or push myself to do something which scares me.
Today was different. Today, I took a moment to stop and accept these thoughts. Yes, they were all real possibilities. I could get lost, I could hurt my ankle and get stuck, or there could be someone out there who wants to hurt me. I also took this moment to remind myself that there was an even higher likelihood that everything would be fine, that I would enjoy myself and go on a wonderful hike without any of these bad things happening.
Anytime one of the negative thoughts or fearful questions came up, I would say to myself (sometimes even out loud!):
“I will be okay. I are okay. I can do this. I am a good hiker. It is okay to be afraid, but I am going to do this anyway. This is my truth!”
So I went. I drove to the park, I parked the van, I started walking. I continued to freak out a little every time I made a turn (“Oh my god – you are going to forget the way you came and get lost!”) or anytime I saw someone else on the path, or heard a weird noise (“This is it! Someone is following you or hiding in the bushes. You are in for it now!”), but I also continued to push forwards and repeat the positive messages and affirmations in my head.
And you know what? It felt great.
I hiked for over an hour and discovered this amazing waterfall deep within the conservation area.
And – nothing bad happened. I didn’t get assaulted, my van didn’t get broken into, and my ankle was fine. By getting outside and doing what I was afraid of, I had proven my fears wrong.
I had an incredible time and best of all, I had been my own support system. I had given myself the reassurance I needed to push myself to do something that scared me. I had done it by myself – that felt better than anything else.
Becoming a real adult is a scary thing, and the journey to loving yourself and figuring out the person you want to be is filled with emotional and difficult moments. What I learned today, though, is that I have everything that I need to be successful inside myself. I just need to accept that it is okay to be scared and do whatever it is that scares me anyway. Sometimes this means stopping for a moment to tell myself (even out loud, if I need it) that everything is going to be okay.
I am toying with the idea of making this a recurring post and blog series of all the things I push myself to do and when I have these “scary” moments. I want to record the progress and hopefully inspire you to do something that scares you as well. Let me know if you want me to do the series, and please leave a comment down below if you have any suggestions for things that I should try! I would also love to hear success stories and if you end up pushing past some scary moments of your own.
I love you all and thank you for coming along this journey with me. <3
I will see you all soon!