The call came just after lunch – a celebratory birthday lunch that involved a glass of red or two.
It came from an amazing women I know called Andrea who heads up a local businesswomen’s organisation. She had a question for me ~
Would I agree to strip off for a “Calendar Girls” inspired photo shoot to promote a charity event?
(If you haven’t seen the movie, it tells the true story of a group of older English women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia research).
“Yeah, sure. No problem” I replied, not thinking twice about the request.
I got up close and personal with sunflowers. Literally. Outside my comfort zone but all in the name of charity #comfortzonesareboring
But later in the afternoon – as the alcohol wore off – I suddenly thought to myself…
“What the fuck have I done?”
You see, I’m a massive introvert. And it’s fair to say that I’m in the worst physical shape of my life.
As the day of the photo shoot drew closer, I’d get that feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I thought about it. You know the feeling of dread that sits in your stomach like concrete. Yep, that feeling.
However the more I thought about it, the more I became aware of the feelings that it brought to the surface for me (nerves, excitement, fear, dread).
But I also realised this experience was teaching – actually reminding – me of a number of lessons that apply equally to sport and life and that we keep coming back to here at SpartaChicks:
Fears are stories we tell ourselves
Everyone is scared of something. Some hide it better than others. But everyone is scared of something.
Of being judged. Being left out. Not being heard. Being alone. Being first. Being last.
Whether we admit it or not, we are all scared of something in our lives.
But most of these fears aren’t real. They're imagined. They're stories you've invented. Fears are stories you tell yourself.
Think of the last time you were in a situation that challenged or pushed you outside your comfort zone. Whether it related to your next race or a difficult meeting at work, let me guess. You imagined in your mind’s eye, every possible scenario, conversation and outcome – all of which fed your nerves and anxiety about it. But while they might seem very real, those stories and scenarios are just that – stories you’ve told yourself.
This ‘adventure’ challenged me to admit what I was afraid of (being judged about my body) and whether it was real or imagined (imagined I decided).
Yeah sure, there might be someone judging me. But I decided it was their issue and not mine. My own challenge was to assess the opportunity I was given to do this shoot with some objectivity rather than from a purely emotional (irrational and insecure) perspective.
So what are you scared of?
And, most importantly, which fears are real and which have you invented?
No one who counts is judging you
Sure. There may be someone judging me right now.
But whether it’s about the shape of my body or the fact that I even did the photo shoot, you know what? It doesn’t matter. And their opinion doesn’t matter.
Because it’s my body and my life.
And because they
Brené Brown articulately addresses the distinction between the critics who count, and who don’t, in this brilliant talk. If you fear the judgement of others, the single most important thing you can do today is take 22 minutes
Living courageously is fun!
As nerve-racking as it was, I haven’t laughed and giggled so much as I did during the photo shoot in a very long time. It was so much fun!
Living courageously – by doing things that force you to tackle your fears – triggers all the “feel good” hormones in your body and makes you feel good.
Of course, champagne can help too 🙂
Surround yourself with amazing people and you’ll astound yourself
It’s been a few years now since the photo shoot and I still catch myself looking at the picture, shaking my head and saying “I can’t believe I did that”.
I’m still astonished by the fact that I ~
(a) agreed to do it and
(b) went through with it.
Am I glad I did it? You betcha!
Will it be something I’ll always be proud of? Absolutely.
So I guess if you’ve read this far, you’re wondering what the finished product looks like….
Without further ado, here it is ~
(If we haven't met yet, I'm the one in the middle of the front row). See, I told you that I laughed a lot that day!
Leave a comment below and share one life experience that's taught, or reminded, you of something you've experienced or learnt thanks to sport and adventure!