The Fear of Adventure

The Fear of Adventure

Do you have a fear of adventure?

In my previous post, I raised a couple of perceived barriers we face in adding adventure to our lives: Time and money. We may wish we had more of both!

However, there is another barrier. Our fears. Our fears are personal and they are not always rational. Most fear is misplaced or artificial. Except my fear of buzzing flying insects. That is real!

Perhaps there are some fears we may not wish to confront.

Overcoming Your Fear

To overcome a fear, it is often said the best way is to confront the fear. Take it head on.

Recently my fears have centred around pushing my health too much and aggravating my asthma that has been hard enough to manage in everyday life.

My fears after heart surgery were my health, fitness and being a beginner again. I was coming off a long period of forced inactivity. Eight weeks since my open heart operation and three months prior to that when my heart issues had set in. 

I had little confidence in my ability to walk for any extended period of time. I was rehabbing on a treadmill for only 10 minutes a day, three times a week, and carrying a chest protecting comfort towel wherever I went as an amulet against internal (coughing and sneezing was soooo painful) and external pains (such as bumps or sudden movements).

How I Overcame My Fear

Weeks later, with many more minutes on the treadmill, I had gained some confidence in my walking ability and discarded my comfort towel. Health and fitness were still at the forefront of my mind. Caution remained paramount. Taking a short walk on the pinnacle of Mount Wellington and having a coffee at Lost Freight (great coffee is always a good idea) afterwards seemed like an easy Sunday morning out. Except, somehow we took the wrong track and I managed to walk a section of the Zig Zag track down to the Pinnacle Track. Then we walked back up.

After the waIk, I felt that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I had come through unscathed. I took on more walks on the Mountain. My fear had been nullified by the confidence of success. Bushwalks on the Mountain became a regular post-op activity.

Coffee at Lost Freight at The Springs has become an integral element to my Mountain adventures.

This is where the mantra of “Do what you can manage” comes in. 

My recovery continued, I returned to work and I was now walking longer walks on weekends too. I was beginning to take bushwalking seriously. However, I began hearing voices inside my head about not being a good bushwalker, not being knowledgeable, about not the equal of my peers. What did they think? This intruder, this interloper into their world. Did I belong in this world?

My main bushwalking mates were experienced and strong walkers. Compared to them, I was unfit, slow, and unaware of the most useful skills. In truth, I still am.

I grew up in a family where my father and sister were extra-outdoorsy in their pursuits. They were kind of intimidating to me.

As the tacky game show said, I was the “weakest link”. I felt like I didn’t belong in this outdoorsy world. This fear was real to me, but equally ridiculous.

This is what I felt I was when I was bushwalking with friends.

In previous excursions prior to my operation, I was blatantly aware of my place in the pecking order. I was just along for the ride, so I hadn’t been bothered by the chasm of skills and experience. Whereas when I started walking after heart surgery my low level of knowledge and experience became an issue for me. I wanted to feel part of each adventure and did not want to be that weak link, that beginner. I wanted to snap my fingers and be good at bushwalking.

What I Know Now

This was all on me of course. My personal anxieties. My personal fears. No-one actually thought this other than me. My mates knew I was just learning and are all too keen to show me and help me with things. My sister and dad are always good for a chat and guidance and not there to intimidate me.

I know now that:

Sometimes, you have to learn. Sometimes, you have to ask a question. Sometimes, you have to be a beginner again.

How About You?

Your fears may be similar to mine. They may include your health and fitness, having the “right” clothes or gear, a sense of non-belonging, you have no one to go with, the feeling you have no “outdoorsy” skills, maybe it’s because of a loss of control or perhaps just beginning something new.

Are fears like these keeping you away from adventurous pursuits? Are you choosing to evade a fear you have because you don’t wish to confront it?

“He (or she) who has overcome his (or her) fears will truly be free” – Aristotle

It is perfectly okay to have fears of the unknown or the uncomfortable. The best way to overcome your fears is by confronting them. You may find your fear is a construct of your mind.

Have you noticed that I have not mentioned any fears of dying, of heights, of water or the dangers in the Tassie wilderness? That’s right! Just fears that might stop us going out the the front door. The real adventure comes next.

If you have any fears, why may they be stopping you from leading a more adventurous life?

Remember to start small. Dream big.

I’ll leave you with a short film by English adventurer Alastair Humphreys. It’s called “Fear?”.

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