None of us like to confront difficulty. We instinctively feel more comfortable with what we know and with what we know how to do. Think of how comforting it is to have someone proclaim you an “expert” in some area. The opposite of this is a fledgling, a newbie, someone who is lost and less adept at the task at hand. Nobody wants to be that person.
That said, I have been finding that there’s a tremendous value in doing the things that scare you most. Doing things that scare you will make you happier because simply put, you feel darn good about yourself when you overcome a challenge.
On my recent trip to see my close friend Sarah (mother of seven!) and her family in Brittany, France I witnessed first hand the value of doing difficult things. Sarah and her family are huge walkers: they have walked for days across areas of France and Italy. No terrain gives them pause. On my first morning, Sarah suggested a picnic on the beach. I put on my sneakers and hat and off we went.
Little did I know that getting to the beach meant climbing over a series of enormous rocks that went on for about half an hour. Below appears Sarah’s unflappable mom Anne (my beloved French mother) making her way across the stones. Let me note that she wasn’t even wearing sneakers!
At first, I said to myself “no way!” I gingerly wrapped my way around the first rock and looked back, thinking of withdrawing from the group. I considered how easy it would be to fall and break a knee, hip or even a tooth. Then, I took my eye of the landscape and focused on just the rock ahead. Step by step, rock by rock, I made my way. Sarah’s little boys skipped over the rocks as if they were running on a flat carpet, so accustomed were they to this type of landscape.
I fell into a trance, not thinking, not questioning, just doing. Just getting there. A human body walking over rocks. Part of a group of people I love dearly but single in the effort it took.
Once I forgot about how difficult the walk was, I enjoyed it. Two hours later, we had made it over rocks, wet sand, grassy marshes and landed onto a gorgeous beach where the rest of our group met us with a picnic. We feasted on cheese, avocado, ham, bread, chocolate bars and looked out to the rough sea. The kids and Sarah took a dip. I sat in the sun, exhilarated, proud.
The next morning, I woke up and guess what I did? I took the same walk by myself. Challenge makes us stronger. It lifts our spirits because we realize how capable we are. We feel whole and complete. That day, the walk seemed a little tricky, but I didn’t even give it a second thought. Returning home three hours later, though, I was more than ready for lunch!
Do something today that petrifies you. When you come out on the other side, you won’t be the same person. That’s growth.
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