Maybe you've heard the following quote before: "Do one thing every day that scares you." It's generally attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Well, I have a confession; I don't do one thing every day that scares me. In fact, no offense meant to Eleanor, but if taken literally, it just doesn't seem like the best advice. I don't know how actually doing such would feasible for anyone. I understand the sentiment though, to be sure, but I think Eleanor should have been a bit more realistic about it.
What I think the quote really means to gets at and perhaps warn about is the complacency that can happen when we forget to confront our fears. It's a tough thing to overcome. Complacency often comes with the territory of our everyday lives. Many of us do the same things, see the same people, listen to the same music, and eat the same foods, day in and day out. While there is nothing inherently bad with routine or schedules (in fact, I feel that I thrive on them), it's possible that those routines and the associated complacency begin to rule us as opposed to us ruling them. They begin to hinder us and our growth instead of contributing to it, and that simply is no good. After all, not much has ever been known to grow in comfort zones.
It was with all of this in mind that I agreed to go canyoning in the Swiss Alps with Tanya and Brock just before our European adventure was about to begin. I want to clarify that I used to be incredibly reckless as a child. I was rewarded with broken bones, a once ruptured spleen, a once lacerated liver, and many, many scars. I feel like I should apologize to my parents for getting into so many accidents - accidents that included everything from rolling a four-wheeler to falling off of a swing set. After all of that, I have, unsurprisingly, become the opposite. Today, I am a very risk-adverse person. While I consider myself adventurous, I prefer to keep my feet on the ground. Discovering a new place? Sign me up! Skydiving out of a plane? No. Just no. I am a firm believer that there is nothing that could ever motivate me to do so. I avoid rollercoasters like the plague. I take the roads less traveled - not in the way that Robert Frost meant; I just want to avoid the traffic and statistically have a better chance at avoiding any possible accident.
Basically, even though I love the outdoors and traveling, me agreeing to go canyoning was a pretty big deal. Canyoning in Interlaken consists of you sliding, repelling, and jumping through some of the naturally created canyons in the Swiss Alps. These canyons are filled with water - very cold water, that is. Looking at the promotional video made me really unsure. Reading the reviews made me even more unsure. But I thought When am I ever going to be able to do this again? You need to get out of your comfort zone! You'll be safe with a helmet and everything. So when Tanya finally asked, I said yes and committed.
And I am so glad that I did. While at times terrifying and at others, totally exhilarating, it was amazing to be out of the blasted comfort zone for those two hours. It was nice to be challenged both mentally and physically in such a memorable way. I know that I will never ever forget the experience or what it now stands for. Despite my initial fears, the truth is that I was actually pretty safe; we had the right equipment, we had two amazing guides, and I followed all of the safety protocols. Sure there was a risk - but there is risk in literally everything that you do. Additionally, a bit of risk now and then can do a world of good at the right moment; taking a step out of that comfort zone, even if just a small one, can be exactly what you need to feel both powerful and free. After we were done canyoning, I felt like I could do anything (except skydiving), and I know that we could probably all do with that feeling on a more regular basis.
You can see one of the guides in the light blue at the top of the waterfall. These guides were seriously the best; so funny and so reassuring. It's amazing out how much of an impact these people can have. One moment I was terrified and the next I was laughing and felt totally confident - I love how these photos capture all of those emotions, too. Both guides were also incredibly patient and helpful. I highly recommend AlpinRaft if you ever visit Interlaken, Switzerland!
I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone this week. It doesn't have to be as big of a step as canyoning. It can be small. It can be tiny. Maybe it's going to a conference alone. Maybe it's trying a new food that you usually wouldn't. Or maybe it's speaking up in a meeting where you normally would keep your mouth shut. We don't have to do it every day, unlike what Eleanor said, but it's probably good to grab our fears and insecurities by the horns and prove them wrong every now and then.
Thank you, as always, for reading.
PS: the names were already printed on the helmets. We just got to pick which one we wanted. I felt like Wino was a good fit for me. :)