I feel like my first true adventure happened when I was sixteen years old. Although my folks had taken me traveling and on hikes through the woods, my whitewater rafting experience with my Dad was a true adventure – one that was unpredictable and a little daring. Sure enough, we came home to my (likely terrified) mother to report that our raft had flipped on a class five rapid, leaving the two of us to rely on our swimming skills and lifejackets to traverse the remainder of that section of river. It was definitely scary, but I came away from the experience triumphant.
I suppose something happened after that: I could not get enough adventure in my life. I signed up for my first triathlon the following summer; I moved thousands of kilometers away from my parents to go to university. I became obsessed with travel, embarking on a trip to Romania to work in an orphanage, a gap year in Australia, and another gap year traveling around southeast Asia and the south Pacific. I signed up to run a marathon, and then figured if I could do that, I might as well sign up to play on a women’s tackle football team. Soon after, I had broken the record for the fastest swim across the Northumberland Strait, and summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
Each experience, beginning with that rafting trip, built upon the next: every time I stepped into the unknown I took a risk, a leap of faith, and I was forced to take a deep breath and assume that I had the strength and courage and wherewithal to complete the next challenge. Every time I succeeded, I became that much more aware of my own strength, courage and wherewithal. I became confident. Confident that I could do anything.
Imagine if we gave our daughters opportunities to see their own strength and courage – by encouraging them to try new – maybe scary – things, to dare, and to dream. Imagine if we did that for ourselves. Like yoga, or meditation, or learning to play the piano, building confidence through adventuring is a practice that you must dedicate yourself to. It starts with going for a run in a downpour, and when you learn you have the willpower to commit to that, you might sign up for the next community swim meet. When you know that you can jump into that pool and give it your all, perhaps you’ll plan a solo camping trip. Soon, you’ll find that your newfound self-assuredness – your belief that you can do anything – will have you asking for a raise, asking your partner to marry you, and generally putting yourself out there because you’re accustomed to the gallop your stomach does when you step into the unknown, and you have cultivated a little voice inside your head that tells you you can do it.
Has an adventure boosted your confidence levels? What happened? How has it affected the way you approach the rest of your life?