What’s that thing they say about bravery? It’s being afraid and doing it anyway. I’ve had quite a few adventures of late….I went to Peru and ran the Jungle Ultra for the fifth time. I climbed a mountain on a via ferrata and then slept in a glass pod hanging off the side of the mountain. I spent a few weeks in Cusco by myself and explored the countryside around the city on foot. I did a 5 day hike with my husband David where we independently circumnavigated Mount Ausangate, with me being in charge of the navigation. I did a couple of solo backcountry camping trips. And with all these things, the words I heard the most from people were “you’re so brave”.
Really though, I don’t think of myself as brave. I’m not sure what I am. Yes, a lot of these things pushed me outside my comfort zone. Is that being brave? I’m not sure. I guess in some people’s books that’s what bravery is. I also have to wonder sometimes if being female and doing things by myself is what makes people think I am brave. If a man went on a backpacking trip by himself for a night would people call him brave? I wonder. Maybe some men can weigh in on this in the comments.
I’ve touched before on how we must go outside of our comfort zones to attain personal growth. I’ve also talked about how doing things that make me anxious allows me to have some control over my anxiety, rather than the other way around. In fact, that is the reason I started doing semi-extreme things to begin with. But a funny thing has happened along the way, as things do, and this is the braver I am, the braver I get. The more things I do, the less things that scare me.
As I mentioned, recently, I decided to take myself backcountry camping. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Like years. But I always had an excuse….I didn’t have the right gear, I didn’t have anyone to go with, I didn’t want to take time away from my training, I didn’t know where to go, the weather is bad, etc etc etc. Basically, I was just scared, scared of the unknown, scared to try something new, something outside my comfort zone. But I made up my mind, this was going to be the summer I went backcountry camping. No more excuses. So, with some trepidation, off I went. Well, first I had a warm-up in May with my friend Jo and my daughter Clare in Oregon. We only got a little lost, and the snow we ran into was only thigh deep, but we had fun. Then I did the Ausangate trek. I was pretty nervous going into it about the navigation part because, as anyone who has ever been with me when navigating has been a thing knows, it is not my strong suit. I’m getting better, but I’m still pretty weak at it. Turns out it was all good….yes, there were a few places where we took a bit of an alternate route, but we were never actually lost, and we made our way around it with no problems. So, in light of these things, I decided that it was time to take myself into the backcountry of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
I was a little nervous as I set off, but actually, I got along just fine. I found my trail, I navigated a little bit when it got confusing, I found my campsite, I set up my tent and filtered some water, it poured rain but I found a nice dry spot under a sprawling tree to sit, I cooked my food, I explored a bit during a break in the rain, I slept, then did it all in reverse. And I loved it. I loved it so much I did it again a couple of weeks later. As I was going out the door David told me he loved how brave I am. There’s that word again.
This time I went a bit further afield to a more remote campsite. As I was going, I passed a man and his son who were fishing in one of the lakes along the way. I had a little chat with him, telling him where I was going etc, and he looked at me and said “Solo? Wow, that’s very brave.” And then to his son “Look at this lady…she’s awesome!” I don’t know about either one of those, I mean, if I was a man would he have said either of those things, and why does that matter? But I digress. When I got to the campsite, I found it to be completely deserted. I was the only one camping there. I thought I might be nervous staying there all alone, but turns out I was not. I loved the peace and tranquility of the place, with the beautiful lake and the towering mountains. Being brave led me to this exquisite experience. The only thing I was nervous of was the porcupine guarding the outhouse!
So, what makes someone brave? I don’t feel brave, I just like to push myself outside my comfort zone. Maybe that’s bravery, I don’t know. It’s easy to see bravery in other people….I see people doing brave things all the time…having adventures, taking up new activities, standing up for themselves or for someone else, making difficult decisions, sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning and facing the day is a brave thing to do. But it all comes around to this…in order to grow, we must get outside our comfort zones, we must do things that make us a little bit or a lot afraid, we must be brave. Don’t languish in the comfort zone, be brave!
Just keep moving forward.