I grew up in a small (and VERY active) town in Alaska. Growing up, everyone participated in every sport, simply to have enough people to field an entire team. I was extremely athletic but I never thought I was a “good” athlete because I was always chasing the faster kids. Until I reached high school where it turned out that the kids I was chasing actually had the potential to become elite athletes (they set state records regularly). This meant that sports became a lot of fun for me, especially running sports.
After college, where I focused less on activity and more on being an adult, I found myself stuck in a rut that lasted for nearly 10 years. As a teen I had been fit and because of this in my 20s I developed the mentality of “Why bother if I’m not going to be good at it?”. Eventually this meant that I stopped being active out of the fear that I wasn’t going to be good at “it,” whatever it was – a hike, a run, etc. I didn’t recognize that I had let my worries govern my life.
Then, last November, just a few months after my son’s first birthday, my father died extremely unexpectedly from undiagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia. After the shock wore off and reality set in, I came to the epiphany that no one else, regardless of how much they loved me, was going to make my life go the way I wanted it to. I had to take control and make my life happen my way. I left my job in March to focus on being a full-time stay-at-home-mom and within two weeks I was getting outside 3-5 times a week with the Anchorage branch of Hike It Baby. I had wanted to go on outings with them since I first heard about them in August 2014 but timing didn’t work out and I had that nagging fear of “What if I’m not good enough?”.
Through HIB, I reconnected with a high school acquaintance, and my competitive spirit kicked in. I ignored the whiny excuse voice that was asking “What if I fail?” and started getting stronger and stronger. Suddenly, I was participating in a Couch to 5k program 3x a week. Since the first week of April I have completed two races and am now training for a half marathon in August. Almost more importantly, I’ve completed several hikes that were previously reserved in the category of “Why bother if I’m not going to be good enough?”
I’ve had some amazing experiences since I decided I didn’t care if I wasn’t the fastest or the best. I’ve found that amazing things happen outside of the realm that I thought was possible. I’m blowing through those excuses and just today hiked 2000 vertical feet in 2.2 miles with a 30lb toddler on my back.
Was I fast? No!
Did I finish? Absolutely!
As I was hiking up the mountain, taking my time, I literally kept taking one step at a time and putting one foot in front of the other. You know what happened? Pretty soon I looked up and the top was in sight and then I was there. The possibility lies in each of us. If fear of failure is all that’s stopping you, then instead of saying “Oh, I can’t do that,” think about responding with “Why not?! Let’s do it!” Rid yourself of all the reasons that you can’t get outside with your kids and dive in.
Erin Pennings’ main duty in life is making sure that her sweet, but very busy toddler, Emmett, doesn’t dive head first off the highest thing he can climb. She is also an outdoor junkie, formerly avid traveler, animal lover, and a lifestyle blogger who loves food. Follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SalmonAtSeven.