One week ago today, I took a leap into the great unknown on a salty adventure that took me way outside my comfort zone.
For a few years during my childhood, Dad had a little boat which was moored on a canal close to home on which we would occasionally explore the waterways of Warwickshire. I remember vividly the time I saw my first kingfisher, but I recall little else. In recent years, many holidays have been taken in a France, so a quick hop across the channel on a big ferry has been a regular occurrence, but I had never been sailing.
The previous week, my partner, a keen sailor in his younger years, had returned from five days in the Solent gaining his Competent Crew certificate, full of enthusiasm. Each evening he would call home, detailing the day and his delight was evident; infectious even. He suggested I give sailing a try and whilst I agreed in principle, I had not an inkling that a few days later, I myself would be stepping on board a yacht for the first time and going sailing. To cut a long story short, after a small amount of resistance on my part and some persuasion on his, he signed me up to head off to the Solent for a weekend on board a boat called Intuition and 48 hours of intensive learning. “Go,” he told me “get involved and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that’s the best way to learn.”
I had no idea who the other people on board would be, what their level of competence was or how we would get on in a confined space. To be frank, I didn’t even know if I would make it thought the first night on board without being sick… but I did. All was well and I loved it!
The very gentle movements of the boat in the water at night were barely detectable and the sounds of the marina were soothing. I shared a cabin with a fellow artist, a mother to two boys like me and there was a lot of nervous giggling that first evening. Also on board were a father and son and our instructor Dave who had worked in the Navy and on submarines. I felt comfortable and confident under his instruction. The amount of information to take in was somewhat overwhelming. Words I had never heard before were taught to us and we learned to tie figure of eights, reef knots and bowlines. I have to admit that my heart gave a flutter as we first hoisted the mainsail. It looked so tall and I was struck by the power of the wind. The weather was kind to us and all apprehension and uncertainty melted away as we got stuck in with the hands-on learning. I was in my element… out under rolling clouds, off into open waters, enjoying the breeze.
One of the benefits of being signed up to this unexpected activity so soon was that there was little time for the anxieties to build up, but I truly had not a clue what to expect as I stood waiting at Hamble station for my lift.
My childhood and teenage years were not the most adventurous. I was never encouraged or inclined to take risks and my comfort zone was a safe and familiar place that I rarely left. I was taught always to have an eye out for the dangers or risks and though I have been a little more courageous in recent years, stepping onto a boat full of strangers with not a clue what I was doing really did feel quite brave. But it taught me something… as trying anything new does… that if you stretch outside your comfort zone, you eventually get comfortable in that new place and your world expands a little. Each time you push, your world grows more.
I felt a little tearful as we headed back to Hamble Marina on Sunday afternoon… two days at sea with strangers and all of the new knowledge I had acquired felt like such a massive achievement. I was proud of myself. On Monday morning, still swaying in my chair, I downloaded my pictures. The experiences have taken a little longer to download and it has taken me several days longer than I intended to write up this post, but I got there. These things can take a while to sink in.
The sense of space out in the middle of the water was incredible; the feeling of freedom with the wind in my hair was unbeatable; the feeling of control at the helm as the boat responded to the slightest movement of the tiller was empowering and I returned home a more confident woman.
Sometimes it is vital that we feel the fear and do it anyway; we need to step outside our comfort zones in order to grow.
I have just booked my next sailing adventure… in less than three weeks, I leave Southampton for five days! Obtaining my Competent Crew certificate is my mission this time.
I would love to know your experiences of pushing outside your comfort zone. When did you feel the fear and do it anyway and what were the results for you?