When I started out perusing my dream of exploration and adventure, I was living in Scotland training in an outdoor centre. The deal was, that if we worked hard during the week, on our days off we could borrow the centres gear and use it for ‘personal development’ other wise know as adventures. Providing of course that both us and the gear came back unscathed.
I was about to say that my first adventure wasn’t that big, but that would be a lie. Back then it was huge! To me at that time it was the most daunting trip I had ever dreamt up. I was going to drive the whole way across Scotland to go sea kayaking, yes thats right, the real deal, kayaking on a proper ocean. Not just any old sea, but the wild untamed west coast of Scotland. I had never organised my own kayak trip before, let alone gone kayaking without an instructor.
I think back and chuckle at this first adventure. The crossing looked so far, the wind felt so strong and the waves seemed so big. Every bone in my body was oozing with nerves, my heart was beating and my head constantly thinking up every possible reason not to go. The ‘what ifs’ were endless.
This was an adventure. I wanted to reach the summer Isles. I felt like I needed to experience what it would be like to wild camp on a deserted island, and be self sufficient carrying all our gear within our kayaks. After what seemed like hours packing our two days worth of food an gear into our boats we carried them down to the water ready to launch.
We set off paddling strait ahead into the choppy waters. Wind attempting to push us of course. Waves slapping at the sides of our boats vigarously, the situation felt serious and daunting. We were on our own. Two young ladies taking on the world. Looking after ourselves in the unforgiving wilderness.
Four years on and my comfort zone has somewhat changed. ‘Big’ crossing are no longer 1km of distance but 40km of open water. ‘Big’ waves don't just tickle the deck of my boat they launch themselves metres into the air before crashing down on top of me. A strong wind is no longer 15 mph of steady breeze but terrifying squalls which rocket down the sides of mountains, picking up spray which stings the side of your face, whilst you brace your boat with all the strength you can muster.
But the fact is at the right time in my paddling career both of these experiences gave me the same buzz. Four years ago when paddling across a stretch of unknown water to a cluster of small uninhabited islands, I was at the edge of my comfort zone. Battling the demons in my head which were saying I couldn’t do it. Yet I did, and the rewards of getting out there and doing so were amazing. I felt on top of the world. Like I could do anything.
Four months ago I was paddling in a foreign country 400km from the nearest settlement, in winds I would have previously never imagined surviving let alone paddling through. Making decisions which would effect the safety of the whole team and having the biggest adventure of my life. I battled with the same demons in my head which doubted what I was capable of, and yet I did it.
What I am trying to get at, is that it doesn’t matter about the scale of adventure your taking part in. Whether your at the start of your new found love for a sport, or a seasoned expert. We all have the ability to put ourselves out there, push our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to cope with harder situations than we would ever have thought possible. Our confidence will grow, and our experience will deepen. Our adventures will never fail to keep us on our toes.
Don’t compare yourself to others. If you feel the love for what you are doing, then you are doing it right. If you come home with a story and a smile on your face then it was a true adventure. Its ok to dream big, but you can always start small and gradually as your confidence grows let your dreams grow. All I can say, is just make them happen. Live life!