The things we are most scared of are often the things most worth doing.
Evan reminded me of this last week as I was having a meltdown and freaking out about going on a 3-day bikepacking trip with a group of women that I barely knew. I was scared I would somehow be in over my head. I knew they all had way more bikepacking experience than me — they’d all done long trips whereas all I had under my belt was a few weekend trips a year for the past few years. I was scared of looking like the newbie. That’s all it was, really. I knew I was a strong and could physically do the ride. While the forecast showed a rainy weekend, it was warm. The majority of my bike camping experience has taken place in the winter, when freezing to death is actually a legitimate concern. This was supposed to be easy. And it was only three days, for god’s sake.
But I still found myself freaking out about how to pack, what to pack, how much water to take, whether to sleep in a tent or under a tarp, if I should take my new camera or not, you name it.
In the end, none of it was a big deal. I slept on the ground under a tarp and it was fine, even though there were a couple tiny holes in it that spritzed my face in a brief downpour on Friday night. We ended up being close enough to civilization all the time that we could fill up on potable water and I didn’t need the water filtration system that I brought, but oh well. I learned that I could do without even more than I thought I could. I never used the spare pair of shorts I brought, but fresh socks did wonders after a day and a half of rain. I discovered that I’m not as addicted to coffee as I thought I was, at least when I’m in the woods. I took my new camera and figured out a good way to carry it and keep it dry.
Most importantly, I was reminded that showing up is half the battle. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best or you make a million mistakes. Just show up and be present. Try your best. Maybe things don’t go as planned (they rarely do) but no matter what happens, make the most of it. If nothing else, it’ll make for a good story.
I was also reminded that being scared is okay. Being scared of doing something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you are never doing anything that scares you, you’re stuck, and I don’t want to be stuck. I want to grow. I want to learn things, get better at things.
Sometimes I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable and complacent in my existence lately, bailing or avoiding a lot of things that scare me, whether they be social situations, putting myself out there in a relationship, doing long solo bike rides or learning new skills.
This past weekend was a good reminder to go ahead and do the scary things, especially if I know they are going to be the experiences that I remember most fondly or make me a better person. Despite my fears and despite the fact that it rained most of the time, I had a great trip and made some new friends and adventure pals.