One month away from my 38th birthday, I am reflecting upon life lessons and pearls of wisdom. While I may not have half the wisdom of someone in their 70’s; I definitely have more wisdom than when I was in my 20’s. If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would most definitely tell her to not be afraid to seek support, to let down the walls and find strength in people around her. Over the years what I have come to learn is that sometimes we need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or a hand to help us through a scary or difficult time.
This past weekend, I participated for the second year in Fall Fit, a female fitness weekend getaway organised by SHE getaways. Over 400 women travel 3 hours north of the city to a YMCA camp ground and experience “camp” for the weekend. We sleep in bunk beds in cabins, eat together in the common hall and spend the full day on Saturday participating in various fitness classes and activities. Each year, the camp runs a polar bear dip; at 7am both Saturday and Sunday, the camp bell is rung to alert campers to make their way to the water for a dip. Last year I did not participate in this activity; there was nothing about submerging myself in cold water in the early morning while it was only a few degrees outside that interested me. This year though, as much as I still had no interest in being cold, I was interested as to why everyone was so excited to do it. I thought to myself, there must be something that I am missing and if I truly was going to walk the talk and act as I coach and motivate others, I needed to do it. Often when I am teaching, I will tell participants that change happens outside of their comfort zones, and if they want change, they must get uncomfortable.
Knowing that there was a strong possibility of me “chickening out” I called upon my two friends who came with me to hold my hand and force me in the water; more specifically, I told them to ignore anything I said and gave them full permission to use any necessary force to pull me in and submerge me underwater.
As cold as the air and water was, the experience warmed my soul. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and experienced the feeling of satisfaction of doing something uncomfortable. Most importantly, the experience solidified my belief that in life, we often need the help of a friend, or collective help of friends to guide us through our fears and push us to the other side. One hundred percent, without a shred of doubt, I know I would not have ran into the water on my own, but with my friend’s support I found the courage to keep running, block out the feeling of cold (fear) and welcome the feeling of joy (success).
While it may be easier to sometimes shut others out or turn away support, we must remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; in other words, we are better together. The next time that you find yourself faced with a difficult decision or situation, no matter how small or big it may be, remember that you are surrounded by people that can help you; whether that be an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on or a hand to guide you.