Years ago, I was what they call in the sport of whitewater kayaking, ‘rocked’. Meaning I had been flipped over and had to swim or be rescued one too many times. The final blow was an actual blow to my head that cracked my helmet and gave me a mild concussion. I quit the sport with no intentions of returning.
Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of my boat or sell my gear. Each summer would pass and I’d look with longing at my gear and remember what it was like to paddle along the river, looking up at the nature around me, surfing waves, and smashing through rapids.
This past August, I decided that my past would no longer intimidate me. I picked up my gear, went to a pond, sat in my boat for fifteen minutes with my niece watching, and then finally flipped over and rolled back up.
I was exhilarated. My skills were still there after many years away. It was time to return.
I started by teaching my niece and a few friends in class I - II rapids. I found the kayaking community strong in New England as strangers reached out to help me find my confidence.
I was doing well. Feeling stronger than ever. Then I went to a festival where many people in the community were doing a Halloween rodeo. A rodeo is when boaters get into a play wave and surf while doing tricks.
I stood on the bank, refusing to get my gear from my car. The last thing I wanted was to get flipped over, miss my roll, and swim in front of everyone. These people were so good. I was too intimidated.
As most of the people left for a party, I stared at that wave. Three kayaking instructors had stayed to continue to play. I trusted all of them, yet I still couldn’t stop thinking about missing a roll in front of them. I just couldn’t get in the water.
Mad, I finally grabbed my friend’s arm, she too was intimidated, and said, “It’s now or never.”
I was shaking with fear as I got in that wave. I did my first stern squirt trick (I wish I could say it was intentional). Not once did I flip over, and my hair was still dry when I emerged. Amanda, a kick ass kayaker and instructor kept pushing me. “We’re here. We’ve all had bad swims. This is how you learn. You need to get your hair wet” I kept getting in, but each time I stayed upright playing in that wave.
I realized that day that I was intimidated because I felt everyone was better than me. I forgot to think about how often they had to swim, get ‘rocked’, take skills classes, to get to this comfort level.
A few months ago, after I began the pilot for what is now my Bucket List Life 21 Day Challenge, I met a lovely woman who’d been sent the invitation to pilot test. “I’d love to do it,” she said, “but I’m too intimidated by all that you’ve done.”
Wait, what? I created the challenge to help people overcome being intimidated, yet she was afraid to start due to intimidation.
Two hours later, it was said again. “You realize you’re really intimidating. You excel at everything.”
I turned around to see who they were talking about. For years I’d seen my failures, my falls, my journey to get up. I was feeling broken, yet here I was being told that I’m intimidating.
I realize I need to share more of my journey of getting ‘rocked’. Oftentimes people only see the finished dream, not the falling down it took to get there.
Sharing my journey, and putting myself out there on social media or in interviews has never been something easy for me. I hate feeling like I’m saying, “Look at me, aren’t I awesome.” In fact, I’m actually rather shy and introverted.
The only reason I do it, is to live by example, so that others can live a life true to themselves filled with the joy of living their lives as an incredible gift. I want people to realize there’s always going to be the journey of falling. It’s part of the path, and sometimes when you look back it’s the best part.
So I invite you to fall with me, and for all of us to realize it’s okay to let go of being intimidated by others. I promise to work on it if you do.
Has there been a time when you felt too intimidated to do something you really desired?