I have recently started working for a youth organisation that runs outdoor activities and adventure therapy for young people. As part of my role I will be managing some of our current contracts as well as promoting our programmes and work towards gaining new clients and contracts so my boss thought it would be good if I went out with some of the instructors a few times to see what actually happens on the programmes.
Today was the day to step out of my comfort zone…..
Today’s activity was caving. Yikes! I had had a couple of weeks to get my head around it so today I felt ready – albeit a bit nervous! I really didn’t need to worry because our instructors are trained professionals but it was a bit out of my comfort zone.
We were all dressed up like serious cavers in waterproof jackets and helmets with lights and walked about 20 minutes to the first cave. We went into 3 caves and the first one had a very low entrance so we were only a couple of metres in and we had to lie on our stomachs and slither like snakes. I said I was worried about getting stuck and one of the course leaders said “you’ll be fine, you’re skinny”. That sort of made my day – if he had seen me a year ago he wouldn’t have said that! I slithered through and it was so tight I had to have my arms stretched out in front of me and my head on the side. The instructor was in front of me so he grabbed my hands and pulled and I slithered through no problem. The bottom of the cave was sand so we knew if all else failed we could dig down and make more room. I would never want to do it in a cave with a rock bottom.
We went from cave to cave slithering and crawling, sometimes through freezing water, and at one point we were walking through water nearly waist high. We sat in one of the caves and the instructor talked about getting out of your comfort zone and into your challenge zone. The young guys doing the course are part of a programme run through the Department of Corrections and it was so cool to see them engaging and learning through the programme.
An amazing and surreal experience…
On the way back the instructor told us all to turn our headlights off and gave one of the boys a candle and he guided us back. It was a cool activity which he led really well. Everyone was helping and encouraging each other and it felt very safe. At one point, when we were gathered in a bigger cave, the boys started singing This Little Light of Mine and we were all singing and clapping. It was hilarious. Then one of the boys started a haka and one of their leaders started a reply. It was a haka she had been given from a Kuia to gift to the boys. It was written especially for them and mentioned them all in it. It went on for ages and was pretty cool. So here I was, deep within some caves listening to a haka. It was a surreal moment and one that is hard to explain as it sounds so bizarre but was deeply moving. You just had to be there…
At the end we walked up a big hill and sat overlooking the beach and reflected on the day. Everyone shared and we all had very different perspectives but all positive. I shared about being a bit nervous but how cool it had been to get out of my comfort zone. I have never been able to understand why people want to do these sort of crazy things but now I get it. I feel so great that I did it. Doing different things and seeing different places makes life interesting and every experience makes you a more interesting person. Talk about getting better work stories 🙂 Sure, I do things that other people wouldn’t do such as singing and speaking in front of people – but these things are my comfort zone so it was good to do something to challenge myself.
Today was the best NSV……
At the beginning of this year if you had told me I would be 34kg lighter and being paid to crawl through a cave as part of my new job I would have laughed 🙂 Back then I was in a job that I loved and had no intention of leaving and weighed 131kg. There is no way I could have done what I did today! I would have got stuck! Fast forward to today and I felt light and fit and kept up easily with all the others. I shared this all with the group and told them it was a NSV (non sleeve victory). They thought it was great!
So glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. Bring on the next challenge!