I was painfully shy as a child. I didn’t start out that way. I was always quite happy playing make-believe, building teepees and minding my own business. It wasn’t that I was afraid to be in the limelight I just wasn’t interested in it.
I remember hearing people commiserate saying “ooh, she’s very shy and quiet”. I also remember chastising them in my mind, growling “No I’m not! I’m just quiet! Why can’t adults tell the difference?!” At some point I must have started to believe them. I did indeed become very shy.
As I got older it started to hold me back. It wasn’t just that I didn’t talk much, I stopped doing things too. When you do things people pay attention and I didn’t want attention.
I realised the ‘shyness’ was holding me back. I deliberately put myself into situations where all eyes were on me and tried to convince myself that I wasn’t uncomfortable. It was difficult but it helped.
As I got older and more independent I developed new relationships, free from the judgments and disapproval I had endured as a child. That helped more. Each year I came out of my shell a little further but even then I missed out on activities I should have done at college or University.
ALL GROWN UP
About 18 months ago I decided I was old enough to do whatever I want. I no longer care when people stare. I laugh at myself and people laugh with me.
“We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!” – Benjamin Franklin
With this realisation my life took a turn I hadn’t envisioned: Freed from the shackles of self-doubt and peer-pressure I began a spate of silly and challenging activities I hadn’t known I wanted to do.
The first challenge was fairly mundane: I registered to run a 5 km Tree-athlon for Trees for Cities in Heaton Park. The first time I put on my trainers I expected to run for at least 10 minutes without stopping. I managed to run for 1 minute then gasped for 6.
I persevered, followed a fitness plan and completed the race in less than 30 minutes; planted a tree, had a picnic and watched a falconry display. (Heaton Park doesn’t do festivals by halves).
Next I set my sights on 10 km, but something else came up instead: Manchester was to host a new event called Shine, a half and full marathon running / walking / skipping through the night. I approached a friend and asked if he would join me in a half marathon. He refused. He said “If you’re going to do something, do it properly.” So I did. I did the full marathon.
I’d learned that I could run, albeit not particularly quickly. I decided distance wasn’t a challenge anymore so I needed a new type of challenge:
Have you heard of the Hardman contest? It’s ludicrous! They have you walking through fire and swimming in ice. I deliberated over it for a month but settled instead for a unique multidisciplinary urban obstacle course: the Manchester Urbanathlon.
If you read about the Urbanathlon on my Events Page you’ll know that “competitors run, wade, climb, crawl, slip, slide, scramble and dangle to the finish line, ensuring they complete the race in sweaty, soaking, mud-splattered splendour.”
Hardman aside, where else can you vault over derelict cars, scrambled up a giant haystack or inch your way through concrete pipes? I finished the race battered and bruised but I loved every minute. I would happily have clawed my way up the climbing wall again this year if I wasn’t attending a wedding on the same day.
Next up was the 1 mile Reverse Running event, also known as retro-running. You can read about my experience in my earlier post here. If my description inspires you to try it yourself there is still time to enter: The race is taking place at Heaton Park on Sunday 14th August. You can register online or sign up on the day between 9 and 10 am.
THE NEXT CHALLENGE
You might wonder where I’m going with all this. To tell you the truth, I’ve gone off on a tangent somewhat. You see, when I sat down and started to type, my aim was to write an introduction to the Day Zero Project, otherwise known at 101/1001.
OK, I’ll be quick: My next challenge is to complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days. The tasks must be specific with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined.
As you may have guessed my list is filled with things I probably should have done when I was a bit younger. Meh! I won’t let that stop me.
Rather than ramble on any longer I will save my list launch for another day. Sorry for the false alarm. Please continue to watch this space! :p