It’s very easy to get caught up in our own fears and insecurities, to live in our own little bubbles and miss some achingly good opportunities in the process. Every now and then I need an external jolt to tell me to get over them; to have the courage to get on with things. Often this comes in the form of seemingly small encounters, as I was reminded this week.
I’ve been holidaying in New Zealand’s stunning South Island for the past five days, nestled among the snow-capped mountains and mirroring lakes (I’m quite embarrassed, as an Australian, to have never visited these shores before. It’s a piece of heaven and I’ll definitely return.)
Over the course of the trip, which has primarily been a skiing holiday with some family and friends, we’ve been debating the virtues of physical thrills and risks as you get older, and the fear that comes with them. Skiing can be a scary pursuit, even when you know what you’re doing and have done it many times before. I learned to ski as an adult, which was initially quite terrifying and challenging in a completely new way. These days I love it, but often still find it confronting to let myself get a little out of control in order to improve. So as we all tried to push through our physical fears on the mountains in New Zealand – particularly as one of our crew was learning to ski – we chatted about some of the reasons why we avoid those scary situations.
Often, as adults, getting out of our comfort zones is something that can be quite easily avoided, particularly in a physical sense. Unlike when we are younger, no one is pushing us to run or swim or toboggan or physically challenge ourselves. So a lot of the time we don’t. This tendency seems to increase as we get older – according to our group, anyway. There just aren’t that many day-to-day opportunities to feel that fear, so it can become quite foreign.
But maybe this conscious boundary-pushing is something we should think about proactively doing more often? Perhaps intentionally pushing ourselves would lead to personal growth in a new way? Maybe we should view fear like this in a positive light? Perhaps Kate McCormack (a lovely business and marketing guru helping us with our plans for The Bulb) was right when she told us that “sometimes feeling scared is a good sign”?
For some potential answers, I’ll take you back to the slopes. One example of whether it’s worth pushing ourselves through our physical fear barriers to improve, to learn, to feel the thrill and adrenalin, even as we get older, came in the form of an ordinary encounter.
Our friend told us about a man she was talking to on a chair lift about his skiing, having seen him zipping around in impressive form on the mountain. He told her that he was 78 and he’d only taken up skiing when he was 70. Seventy! Here we were – in our early thirties – discussing whether we were too old to be learning new tricks, to be pushing ourselves physically and facing our fears, when this older gentleman was putting us all to shame not only with his form but through his attitude. He was absolutely smashing out there, not letting the natural worries about whether he might get hurt or scared get in the way of trying.
It was such a refreshing story for me to hear. Life’s too short to be stuck in our little fear bubbles. Mr Ski Senior reminded me that it’s never too late to start something, to challenge yourself, to perfect a new skill, even if it seems scary and pointless at the start. As is often said, you’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than those you did. What’s something you’re scared to do but would like to? Go on – get started.
(Written by Sarah)