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My top memories are also my scariest

I had a conversation at the gym recently, and I was sharing an experience I had back in September when me and my friend traveled to Australia. I competed in an adaptive competition, but we decided to stay for another week to make the most of it. My favorite part of the entire trip was an excursion we took to swim with whales. We weren’t touching them or anything – this was not a zoo adventure. We literally got on a boat that took us out into the middle of the ocean. Once we spotted a pod of humpback whales, we’d jump into the water to see if we could watch them pass underwater.

The experience was incredible, to say the least. You know those rare but wonderful moments in life where you realize just how small and seemingly insignificant humans are in the grand scheme of the universe? I was in awe of these creatures, who had the power to  completely wreck our boat if they wanted to, but they didn’t. They lived an existence entirely unknown to me, on the opposite side of the world, and yet had more raw power than I had ever witnessed so close. And here I was fresh off of winning a CrossFit competition, thinking I was slightly important and stuff.

As I was trying to describe the experience to my friends, I said the words “in the top 5 most incredible experiences of my life, hands down.” Then, as I left the gym and started my drive home, I started to wonder, “what other experiences would you put at the top of your list?” 

I continued to think, and as I started sifting through recent memories and filtering out my favorites, one common denominator was shared among all of them.

I was extremely scared to do every single one. 

Some of the experiences that came to mind looked like this: 

Snowboarding in Colorado. We decided at the last minute the night before that we would go, but we also experienced a snowstorm that day, and weren’t sure if the roads would be icy. We had to figure out how to get a car, what time we would need to leave in the morning before dawn, how to maneuver our way up the winding, snowy mountain (I was the driver, and I was terrified at the thought), and how to get back to the airport in time for our flight. Let alone the actual feat of learning how to snowboard.

Or cliff-diving in Mexico. Another experience we had no idea what to expect – literally on our way to the site, we experienced a massive downpour, our tour guides were telling us we were about to “have fun in the jungle,” and we realized we didn’t know what we had signed up for. I thought we were going to hang out on the ocean, lazy river style.

My first ever CrossFit Games in 2021, along with all the emotions it brought. I fought serious imposter syndrome in the months leading up to the competition, and that week was jam packed with facing and fighting fears of all kinds, basically every hour on the hour.

These are to name just a few lifelong memories that will always hold a significant place in my heart. And I considered not participating in all of them. I felt severe anxiety leading up to every single one of them, and wrestled with thoughts like, “is it even worth the trouble? It’d be so much easier just not to go, or not even try. Maybe the anxiety in my mind is a sign I shouldn’t do it.”

These experiences have opened up my eyes to some pretty incredible views of the world. I’m so glad I participated in all of them.

And yet, I had to fight fear leading up to, and sometimes even throughout, all of them.

Let it be known: fear is a pretty common emotion. It ain’t going nowhere. Don’t allow it to dictate what you do, because if you’re waiting for it to disappear first, chances are you’ll be waiting until the moment and opportunity has passed.

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