I am competitive to say the least. I like to win at things and don't like failing or getting things wrong. I believe it makes me look silly, and I just really like being not brilliant at everything but at least good at most things. A sport, a board-game, a debate - the list goes on. I think most people are to an extent the same but I know I have that really competitive streak mixed up with not much confidence. Over the past few years I've got a bit better at not having to win at everything but there still is a certain desire to do all sports well and prove myself (even if its just to me).
Last week we had a wonderful morning out on the Grand Union Canal near Paddington with Paul from Active 360. We met him at the Adventure Travel Show the weekend before and he had very kindly offered to take us out on our gorgeous Origin boards and give us some hints and tips on standup paddle-boarding. That morning Andy recorded me saying that he would fall off first - my background in dance and climbing means I am confident in my balance, and inside I wanted to prove I was best.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I was being fished out of very cold water. The wind caught my board, rammed me into the edge of the canal and like a cork out of the bottle I was off. My pride, one glove and weirdly a pair of earrings were sinking faster than you can say 'oh shucks' and my confidence had taken a real battering. But then something weird happened. I laughed. I laughed as bankers were looking on, as Paul checked I was ok, as Tanya took pictures and as Andy smirked before giving me a hug of a good friend. I laughed because it was funny and a lesson well learnt in how to get back up after a fall.
I looked hilarious. Soaking wet, and a little stunned by my sudden slip, I was not exactly the glamour of London personified. Yes I felt silly but as I wrote above, I also had the thought that falling off in this safe environment was a really good learning experience. Now when I go over on the Danube, when I am tired and cold and very grumpy it won't be such a shock. I got back on my board, stood-up and the nearby builders, Paul and Andy gave a little cheer. I don't think they will ever know what this cheer did for me - but I had to try very hard not to cry, in a good way. I had fallen in, was looking like a drowned rat and was still going on my board.
I am a bit tougher than I thought. And I am going after something I enjoy with determination to be better at it, without arrogance.
I may still be more competitive than most people but I learnt that looking silly in the pursuit of something that you enjoy or something you really want is ok. So readers my gentle challenge to you this week is try something new, even if it means you may fail a few times along the way. It might just be the thing you need to believe in yourself a bit more.
Photo credit http://www.tanyaraab.uk