My biggest fear isn’t being taken out by a massive ocean wave, nor looking up at a 100ft granite cliff I’m about to climb. It isn't the fear of falling or getting lost in the mountains. Nor does it include spiders, snakes and monsters that live in the dark.
MY BIGGEST FEAR IS FAILING!
Failing myself, or failing others.
I signed up for my first half marathon this weekend. Nervous of the 13 miles of trail I was expected to run, anxious about the 1350m of accent which stood before me. I was scared! Butterflies churned in my stomach, my mouth uncomfortably dry and my mind distracted. I wanted to bail. It would be easy to request a down grade to the 10km course. I knew I could at least achieve that. Then again, it would be easy to blame a spontaneous injury, and opt out completely. Either of these options would eliminate the possibility, that I might fail to complete the mammoth challenge I’d naively signed up for.
I stood on the start line hovering deep at the very back of the pack, not wanting to get in anyones way.
This fear of failure, is not new to me... The desire to not even start is overwhelming. I'm intimidated, I feel stupid even attempting to run this race. People may just laugh at my efforts, and god forbid, imaging that phone call to ask to be picked up half way round, because I just can't do it.
What is it about failure that we really fear. Is it the possibility that we may show up our weaknesses? Look stupid in front of others? Disappoint ourselves or the ones who believe in us?
Fearing something because we don't yet know the outcome is an emotion that doesn't make any sense. Yet here I am crouched down, tying my shoe lace, thinking of any acceptable opportunity to take the easy route out. Why? Because I really had no idea if I could actually do it!
Failing to finish this race, would confirm I’m not good enough and would consolidate all my self doubt. Failing would make me feel stupid, for even dreaming it was possible in the first place.
I have stood in front of rooms of people, telling stories about my adventures hoping to inspire others. Spoken about taking chances, chasing dreams, leaping into the unknown, and striving to achieve goals. I have learnt all too many times that failure is really just an opportunity to grow, become wiser, and bounce back stronger and higher than before.
Yet, again, I find myself fighting this fear of failure. On this occasion, it’s a barrier I just can’t seem to see past.
If I don't try to run this race, then I’ve really just failed to try. Surly that is far worse than trying, and failing. So I started, and that was the hardest part (so cliche). Once I picked up momentum, I just kept going. One step at a time, the miles slowly rolled by. I found myself smiling. Loving the trial beneath my feet, the woods, rivers, moors and cliffs I ran steadily through. Enjoying the challenge I had entered into.
14 miles, 1350m of climbing, 8 jelly babies, 2 Jaffa cakes and 3 hours later, I stumbled across the finish line.
I wasn't the fastest, and yes, I did walk up that epically steep hill on mile 12, but I completed my very first half marathon.
My fears faded...... until next time.