I wonder if Magellan felt nervous before he voyaged into unknown waters? Did Vasco de Gama lay awake at night second guessing his decision to trust a centuries old sea map and establish a sailing route to India? And Columbus? Was he secretly over-thinking every aspect of his big journey into the cavernous Atlantic Ocean? How did they handle the twists and turns of planning the unplannable without going stark raving mad? This was what was racing through my head at what I like to call, “my 2:00 am meeting with myself.”
I really hate these meetings. Every participant second guesses any decision that the committee has been working on for weeks. All of them naysayers with lots of criticism and no alternate solutions. What a bunch of defeatists. Problem is, listening to them really undermines my confidence.
My “9:00 am meeting with myself” is with a completely different group. Encouraging folk, armed with real data to back up their decisions. These voices attempt to undo the work of the 2:00 a.m. crowd. The meetings can run all day, full of optimistic charts and graphs, the team working through their checklists with excitement and enthusiasm.
So this has been my internal rollercoaster for the last several weeks. Fear creeping out at night whispering, “Don’t do it, it’s too hard. It’s scary. Remember your initial disappointment when you moved to Thailand? It will be bad. You might have to do uncomfortable things.” No facts or figures, just raw emotion. And as a former counselor, I know that my amygdala (in charge of the fight, flight or freeze response) has taken control and my cerebral cortex (rational brain) has taken a back seat. My escalated cortisol levels could help me fight a tiger, but for this problem, all it does is cause anxiety and a nice case of gastrointestinal issues.
So what to do? Go for a nice long ride and attempt to “metabolize” my anxiety. So, that’s what we did. Rick and I headed to Sequim for a gorgeous 25 mile ride that took us from the Railroad Bridge Park on the Dungeness River, to long country roads leading to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, through the historical site of the original town of Dungeness and back to our car. Perfect blue skies but cold enough that I wore my down puffy jacket. What we didn’t count on was the wind. So for about half the ride we had a headwind with gusts up to 18 mph. Not kidding. I looked it up on my weather app. At one point we had ridden with a tailwind down a long beachfront lane called Three Crabs Road. It was really great being pushed along from behind. I clocked upwards of about 15 mph without much pedaling involved. Then we had to ride back. It went from an exhilarating cruise to an exhausting, all out push against the wind which slowed me to about 5 mph. I had to focus entirely on staying upright and not being propelled into the ditch by the wind. Of course the very good news was that all that focus and energy expenditure cleared my head. Back into my body, I remembered why I was even pursuing this cross Europe cycling experience. The beauty, the mental and physical challenge, the adventure.
Back at home, I shared my fears with a real-life encourager, a friend from high school that has always been that person that helps me be my best self, just by being there. Her uncomplicated words really helped. “Your trip sounds amazing! Trust yourself.”
Trust yourself. Straight-forward and simple. Nothing more. But more importantly, nothing less.
I think I’ll cancel those 2:00 am committee meetings. I mean, what a bunch of worrywarts.
Windy and clear, overlooking the Salish Sea.