Have you watched “The Croods”? If not, do yourself a favour and watch this exciting, inspiring family movie starring the voice talent of Emma Stone. The Croods are a cave family living in prehistoric times relying on their sense of fear to keep themselves protected, safe and sound, cocooned in their little familiar world, and avoidant of any risk or danger that might jeopardise their lives. In short, fear has kept them alive. But it has also kept them confined; inhibiting individual family members from living their lives to the full.
In many ways I’ve lived much of my life like the Croods. Fear has long been my ally signalling danger with a blast of adrenaline and cortisol surging through my body and subsequently bringing with it great waves of nausea, muscle tension, sleeplessness, hyper alertness and fatigue. Fear has kept me safe from many dangers and it has also kept me small in some ways, becoming an obstacle to achieving some of my dreams.
Getting up ‘close and personal’ to your fear is the first step towards reaping its benefits whilst simultaneously learning how to keep it in its place. Throughout my own journey to uncover the true nature of my innermost fears, my eyes were opened to its duality. On the one hand fear has a protective, almost loveable quality, and on the other hand shows characteristics of being a bully by giving voice to my harsh inner critic – self-deprecating and self-defeating. Not wishing to succumb to the tactics of an overprotective ally or an inner bully, I have made conscious choices to work towards my dreams despite what my fears tell me.
My mountain bike escapades have taken on a new dimension since I made this commitment to myself. I have always shrunk away from the idea of racing because I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace, I don’t have the technical skills, I would get in everyone else’s way, I would probably hurt myself and possibly the rest of the field too, I wouldn’t cope with the heat, my butt would get too sore, I would panic and do something ridiculous like crash on the start line, I would feel miserable ………
One day recently I made the decision to take action against these fears. I quickly registered for an MTB event before the volume of my inner voice increased any more. “Chicks in the Sticks” is promoted as a women’s only 3 hour enduro event that will ease me into the world of mountain bike racing. The forums are all so positive, the photos full of smiles and camaraderie, and best of all, the grading categories speak the language of newbies like me! I’ve entered “Have a crack” specially for those of us with no prior race experience but simply wanting to have a go.
I’m sure my fears will continue to challenge my decision to register, but for now I’m feeling excited! Excited because I’m having a go at something that I thought I probably wouldn’t ever have the guts to do, excited because I’m standing up to my fears, and excited to be part of a community of women who ‘get’ where my confidence is at.
So here I am with only a few weeks to go before the big day! My ‘very-informal-training’ has included going on longer family weekend rides and bringing a greater degree of intensity and variety to my weekday exercise. And I am absolutely loving it! I’ve booked in for some coaching prior to the event to become familiar with the trail and improve my skills to ride the more technical sections. Each of these actions brings new evidence that I CAN do it, and that I WILL do it.
As the Croods and myself have learned, avoiding everything you fear might keep you hanging on for dear life, but it isn’t much fun. It’s claustrophobic and confining. Life has no variety and risks the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams. By confronting those things we fear, we find new ways of being and doing, and it can open up a whole new world!