Fate seems to be telling me to write this post; the timing is just right.
In the past few weeks, I have actually done several things that scare the heck out of me. Most were things I agreed to do with ample prep time…although one was a spontaneous decision the day before. In each situation though, I found myself saying at one point or another “what the heck was I thinking”…for agreeing to do this, or for thinking I was capable of this, or thinking that this would be fun…
The happy news is that in every single situation, the fact that I DID IT turned out to be a good thing…sometimes even a great thing. It became a good lesson in learning to feel fear and doubt and continue to move forward and try new things.
To you some of these situations might seem like a no-brainer; like, seriously, why wouldn’t you try that?! For me, each situation brought up a variety of fears or anxiety that might cause me to pause for one reason or another. Let’s dive in to my recent situations and see if hearing about them might help you in some small way…
#1: Tent Camping at Lake Red Rock
I love the outdoors and being active doing many things outside – biking, hiking, walking the dog, boot camp workouts – just to name a few. There are some outdoor things that cause me grief…for example, mosquitoes. Mosquitoes LOVE me, I mean like, no one else will be getting bitten but I’ll be getting eaten alive. I get huge welts from mosquito bites – the kind that you scratch and take at least a week to go away.
Because of this and a general dislike for being hot while sleeping, I’m not a big fan of tent camping, especially in the summer time. I also will say that I had a horrible tent camping experience with my ex-husband that left me a little doubtful that it could ever truly be fun. What can I say…I have baggage…
So you can imagine my lack of excitement when my husband (Brian) asked if I wanted to go camping at Lake Red Rock in May…on our anniversary weekend. Yep…not exactly my idea of a fun way to spend my anniversary…LOL… To give him credit, we had talked with camping friends prevously and bought nice equipment from REI back when I had agreed that camping and biking in the fall could be fun. And he wanted to go this particular weekend because his twin brother and family were also camping and celebrating my niece’s birthday. We really had no other plans, so I agreed.
The closer we got to the weekend, the more I was dreading it…and the more excited he was getting. He was buying all kinds of additional camp equipment, planning the menu, gathering his fishing gear, etc. while I was still pouting a little in my corner thinking…shouldn’t we wait until we try this a time or two before investing in all this camping “stuff”?!?! Meanwhile I’m making a list of things I can bring to feel more comfortable – an extra pillow, books to read, my bike, my hiking shoes – so I would have something fun to do alone if I was bored or they were off fishing all day (I have zero desire to learn how to fish).
In the end, all my worry and nervousness was not necessary – we had a great time with family, I got some quiet time to read and walk in the morning, I was actually able to sleep (somewhat comfortably) on my sleeping pad in the tent, and we had plenty of bug spray to keep most of the mosquitoes at bay. I still think I’ll like camping in the fall better, but we had amazing food and a great time.
#2 Mountain Biking at Whiterock Conservancy
Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I had several photography commitments on Friday & Saturday, but planned on biking on the paved trails Sunday & Monday. As the weekend progressed, plans shifted and I received a surprise text message from Lee, a biking friend, asking if I’d be interested in going mountain biking together at Whiterock Conservancy on Monday.
For those not familiar, Whiterock is in Coon Rapids, IA (about an hour-ish away from me here in Des Moines) and has gravel, single track mountain bike trails, and double track trails. It’s hilly and rough…definitely challenging terrain. I had been there once before during Fall back when I had my 29er, but I hadn’t been back since I got my fat bike.
My first thought was holy hell…it’s early in the season, my friend Lee is a very skilled MTB rider, and I’m pretty much a newbie. I’ve mountain biked several times, I just would say I’m still a beginner. However, I also know that I have two trips coming up to Cuyuna Lakes MTB Trails – one toward the end of June and one for a week early September – and I could use some practice. I literally didn’t let myself think about it and said sure!
Oh. My. Gosh. WTF?!?! What did I just do!??! Lee assured me that this was just for fun and she was going to be resting often and going slow (recovering from an injury). I told myself that even though I haven’t biked a ton, I lift heavy weights daily and my legs are in good condition for biking/climbing hills. But I was scared and nervous…at the same time I was telling myself “you can do this”…
Let’s just say that the ride could best be summed up as…humbling… Ha! It was very hot and humid that day and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I walked up more hills (and more in general) than I would have preferred. However, rather than beat myself up or feel guilty about potentially slowing down my friend, I decided to list the things that felt good about the day:
- I did it – even though I was pretty much scared shitless
- After the first unexpected bridge that caught us both off-guard, I rode across two more bridges straight down the middle (this is HUGE for me…bridges freak me out! Carolyn talking to herself…look where you WANT to go….look to the other side…)
- Some of the trees were pretty tight and I went between the trees without running into them or feeling unsteady (again, this is HUGE…I tend to feel like I won’t fit between the trees, especially on a fat bike with wider handlebars… I’ve been known to slow down and run right into the tree…LOL…)
- Even though I was sweating and exhausted and had to walk my bike out, I had a LOT of fun going and spending time with Lee and meeting other biking friends
- I DIDN’T DIE!!!!!
#3 Dam to Dam 2018: Paid Photo Gig
Last year I had the opportunity to accept a paid photography job shooting photos at Dam to Dam. It went relatively well, but I ended up highly annoyed with the used 70-200mm Tamron lens that I had purchased and used for the shoot. At that point, I decided to take family photos and save up the $$ needed for the “good lens”…the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 luxury lens that was a dream.
I thought I did “okay” last year, but I try not to make any assumptions about getting the job again. As it turned out 2018 was going to be the last Dam to Dam race and I was asked to shoot for Jolesch Enterprises again as one of the photographers on the course. Woohoo!
As the weekend approached, the weather forecast was looking truly awful. 2017 had been hot, but this year thunderstorms were predicted. Although you may not be an avid photographer, you can imagine the challenges of shooting in the rain. If you get lucky and its just a nice gentle downpour with zero wind, then it’s not a bad deal. But thunderstorms – this could be a nightmare and a huge pain in the ass. You have to cover your equipment well, you probably prefer to also be covered so you aren’t a soggy hot mess, the wind can make taking pictures difficult as you need to continually wipe your lens off… Bleh.
As I’m loading up and getting parked downtown (yes, the race was still on and yes, no rain delay announced yet)…this was the outlook:
And this captures how I felt about it:
Ha, ha, ha… Oh boy…
Another photographer was in the same location and as we waited in our cars to hear if the race had started on time, we were both thinking…I don’t want to get out of the car…the first runners won’t be here for at least 50 minutes… LOL…
Again…hitting the moment of “what was I thinking” and “why did I agree to do this”…and even “this is so not worth the money if it’s pouring rain the whole time”… Ah, that little inner voice is a slippery little devil…
As it turned out, shortly after getting the word that the race started at 7:30am (1/2 hour delay), the rain stopped. We got out and headed over to our shooting location, took some practice shots and waited for the chaos to commence.
It’s a lot of work – the first few runners are spaced out and you can relax in between – but once the leaders get by and the main group starts coming through, we shot for about 2-1/2 hours non-stop. Aim, focus, shoot, repeat…for what seems like forever… After it was all said and done, I calculated that I took over 5300 photos during that time. Wowza!
In the end…each of the above experiences were a good lesson for me. It’s easy for even a fairly confident person to let the doubts creep in and that inner voice in your head get the best of you. If I would have listened to that voice, I would not have had these experiences…or the fun, adventure, and friendships shared along the journey.
Everyone has a different tolerance for fear and ambiguity. I’m not saying that you should definitely do everything you are afraid of. For example, I have a fear of heights and I’m not going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane just to “prove” I can skydive and not die. Sorry, not sorry!! I’m just not going to do it. I’m perfectly happy living my entire life and not experiencing jumping out of an airplane.
However, there are both small and big opportunities that arise during this thing called life…some that may cause us a decent amount of trepidation, but that are worth it in the end. It’s a personal choice. What I encourage you to do is entertain the idea of doing the things that scare you before automatically turning down the opportunity. We often learn and grow in those moments of fear. Only you can decide…is it worth the risk? Is it worth the rewards?
Typically I know when to work through the fear…it’s when I know I don’t want to look back and say “I wish I would have done that”…