How many times in your life have you hesitated because of your fear or even been paralysed by it?
Decided it’s not the “right time” to apply for a new job or promotion because you don’t think you’re ready?
Hesitated to enter an event (or even tell someone you’re considering it) because you aren’t sure you’re good enough, will be ready in time or your pale skin, stretch marks or dress size means you don’t fit what you think a runner, triathlete, ultrarunner or mountain biker look like?
Feel so sick at the thought of doing the swim in a triathlon you don’t enter the race?
We’ve all been there.
We all have fear and self-doubt that holds us back - in small and big ways - throughout our lives.
It’s completely normal because the human brain has evolved over thousands of years to protect you from risk or danger (or what it perceives to be risky or dangerous). The old “fight or flight” response doesn’t just kick in when you run across the road to avoid being hit by a car; it is triggered any time you start to get near the edge of your comfort zone.
But as today’s guest, Beth White, says the reward of pushing past your fears is always worth it.
When talking about the fear of open water swimming that many women have, Beth said:
“I really believe we have to look at our fears and try to overcome them. Once you have taken it on and succeeded, the good far outweighs the thought of what could be down there [in the water]….The reward is so amazing when you finish that triathlon, no matter how fast you were or what position you came in, that far outweighs what could be underneath [the water]. It’s just a matter of getting through that challenge.”
And this applies equally regardless of whatever (fear) story you’re telling yourself about your goals and dreams.
Beth knows a thing or two about challenges, fear and dealing with the unknown.
Now a mother of 3 and remedial massage therapist, she was about 5 years old when her family realised there was a problem with her sight.
She was initially diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa a rare, inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. But she didn’t let that stop her; from rollerskating, riding her bike, wake boarding and even scuba diving Beth has tried just about everything.
Each of her children were tested for Retinitis Pigmentosa after their birth and Beth and her husband David were reassured that none had inherited the condition.
But as Samuel, Beth’s middle child, got older, Beth started to notice behaviour changes that convinced her he had inherited the same condition.
Genetic testing revealed two shocking things; first Beth had been misdiagnosed most of her life; she doesn’t have Retinitis Pigmentosa. Instead, she has a condition so rare, it doesn’t even have a name nor a known prognosis.
And secondly, her 3 children had also inherited the condition and each face the prospect of losing their sight.
Since then Beth has thrown herself into triathlon and is on a mission to raise funds, awareness and to inspire people with her story.
Oh, and did I mention she is also the current ITU Paratriathlon World Champion for her category?
In this interview we talk about:
* her childhood, growing up surrounded by boys, and trying to keep up with them (she refused to let her limited vision stop her),
* the practicalities of being a visually impaired triathlete especially in the swim (which is a source of anxiety and stress for many women) and how she manages her fear,
* the “mum guilt” she experiences, knowing her children have inherited the same condition (with no known prognosis), and
* the importance of trusting your gut intuition and believing in yourself.
Notes and resources:
Eyes Wide Open - Meet the kids on a 'must see' adventure before they go blind - Sunday Night, Channel 7 (June 2015).
Ready For Elite Step Up - Daily Telegraph (July 2016)
Daily Edition - Channel 7 (July 2016)