When I was in high school, I was involved in an organization called YoungLife. Part of their program included a week-long summer camp in upstate New York. Every single person I knew who attended the camp described it as “the best week of their lives” and “life changing”. And it was no rustic, run-down camp with lumpy mattresses and moldy showers. I wonder why the mattresses were bad, they could have used the Mattress guide and replaced them. Or, they can just go to sites like dewaard & bode to buy a new one. Instead it included a week of life on the lake with sailing and beaches and sports and zip lines and swimming pools nestled in the woods. But every year when I was asked to go, I turned it down.
Maybe next year.
There was one part of camp that absolutely terrified me.
Part of the week for every single camper included taking part in a ropes course. High up in the trees, strapped in with harnesses and carabiner clips, every camper was expected to navigate a course of tangled ropes and bridges and high wires and most terrifying of all—a giant swing at the very end. My club leaders described it to me in detail. They told me how you sat on a platform with a coach behind you, talking you through it, walking you through each step until you were ready to push off and go. You’d drop for a split second or two, then your ropes would catch and you’d swing out over the stream below until you were finally pulled in to a stop by a guide on the ground. It was invigorating. And amazing. And exhilarating.
And it was the one thing that kept me from going to camp.
Finally I reached the last opportunity that I could go. I’d be graduating from high school the next summer, going on to college and this was my last chance.
I could fight the peer pressure and the desire to experience “the most amazing week of my life” no longer–I signed on the dotted line and despite being secretly freaked out about what was ahead, I found myself climbing on that bus and going to camp. Crap.
Midway through the week, our group’s assigned day for the ropes course arrived.
One by one I watched my friends navigate the wobbly course deep in the woods, high up in the trees. Some would get tripped up on the x-patterned ropes that required you to move your carabiner from one line above your head to another. Some would fall, dangling from their harness and using all their strength to pull themselves back up onto ropes. Others would navigate the course like they were more monkey than human. Contorting their bodies and throwing their heads back in bliss as they dropped from the air off the swing platform.
When it was finally my turn I knew I didn’t have any more excuses. Slowly and steadily I navigated my way through the course, doing my best to remember the steps of my friends before me. The encouragement from friends on the ground and the instruction from the ropes course leaders stationed around the course helped me push on.
But still the hardest part was ahead of me.
Finally I got to the swing. Shaky legs and sweaty hands I sank onto the wooden platform and positioned myself in front of the instructor. I immediately told him I needed some time. That I wasn’t ready. Don’t push me. He calmly explained every step and assured me that he wasn’t going to do anything until I was ready. But that he would have to give me a push to get me out over the platform when it was time.
The longer I sat there, thinking through what was ahead, what was required, how far up I sat in the trees the more I felt myself begin to panic. I tried to talk myself through it, ask every question I could think of about possible horrible scenarios and safety issues, and find out if there was any way I could change my mind.
But quickly I reached a point where I knew doing this thing, conquering this swing, going for it, was something that I really wanted to do. I wanted it. I wanted to experience it. I wanted to know the feeling of finishing it. Of knowing I could do it. I was pretty sure the scariness was going to be worth it. I didn’t want to waste anymore time.
I was absolutely ready. I was absolutely not ready.
But without one more thought I heard myself saying, “Go ahead. I’m ready.” Without hesitation, I felt the firm push at my back and I was going. I was doing the thing that I knew was going to be so hard and so good and so exhilarating. I was doing the thing I had avoided.
And I was surviving.
And I was okay.
There is nothing quite like conquering a fear or doing something we think we absolutely cannot do. Sometimes we hold our breath and even though we may not be completely ready or have gathered up every ounce of courage we can, or had time to do all our research, we still push off and go for it. Because we know–the part that comes next, the part at the end is going to be totally worth it. And that’s what we want. That’s what gets us off the platform, quiets the voice that must work through all the possible outcomes and details and let’s us just go.
This fall, when I saw myself signing on the dotted line to become an Independent Consultant with Arbonne, it was a little like getting the firm push on my back off that wooden platform. When I heard about the opportunity, something inside me couldn’t ignore it. It offered hope. It was something I knew I wanted. In my heart, I knew it was all about helping people. I knew it was what I wanted.
I also knew it was going to require some really hard things too.
Getting over fears. Stirring up some gifts and talents that had gone dormant in the swirl of life and motherhood and postpartum and busyness. Letting go of worry. They were all good things. The light at the end of the tunnel was a good thing. An amazing thing. But I had to just hold my breath and go for it.
It doesn’t matter what your hard thing is–starting a new business, homeschooling your kids, running a marathon, asking someone for forgiveness, cutting ties in a bad relationship–a lot of the same principles apply. The end result will be so worth it, but sometimes it’s just so hard to jump.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself, about doing things that aren’t always easy for me, the past few months:
- 99% of the time, my biggest fears are things I’ve exaggerated 99% in my head. They aren’t as scary as I’ve allowed them to become.
- Things that push us outside of our comfort zone can be really, really good things. Don’t resign yourself to being a certain way until you ask yourself if maybe pushing yourself to grow wouldn’t be for the best.
- Always remain grateful. When you get discouraged, always find something in your journey to be grateful for. There’s probably more growth, more success than you’re noticing in the tough moment you’re experiencing right now.
- Surround yourself with things and people that keep you motivated, keep your cup full, and pour encouragement into your life. You will need them. Often.
- Have a servant’s heart. Remember why you’re doing what you do. Why it’s important to you. And how doing this thing can help and impact those around you.
- Write down your why. On days when you feel like you can’t do one more thing, reading this could be the thing that helps you push just a teeny bit harder.
- Ask yourself “Why not me?”. I’m often guilty of thinking that I’m not the kind of person who does this, who succeeds at this, who can be good at this. And that for some reason, I’m going to always be stuck where I am right now. But you know what, “Why not me?”
- Be bold. Be confident. And stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Just like number one on this list, chances are what you assume everyone is thinking about you (which you’ve probably told yourself is the worst possible thing) is really not at ALL what they’re thinking. You. Are. Loved.
I would love to tell you a little bit more about my work with Arbonne. I’ll be hosting a private event on Facebook called Discover Arbonne this Thursday at 9pm Eastern–hopefully when all our kiddos are tucked away in bed. Learn what it’s all about, and what opportunities there are for you. And if it’s not for you, that’s fine! I promise you’ll walk away from the evening feeling inspired and encouraged. Thursday doesn’t work for you? Shoot me an email. I have a little something for you, too.