I’m an overthinker. Always have been. I’m also a reflector. It’s a potent combination. It means that if you invite me along to do something adventurous there’s every chance I’ll want to tell you about everything that could go wrong, then lie awake wondering why I’m not more excited about it. Over the years I’ve found various strategies that help me to overcome my fears so I don’t have to miss out, but there were times when it was crippling. The picture above is of ‘the big slide’ at the park where I spent countless hours as a child. Honestly, it scared the shit out of me for a long time. It was big, really big, and the handrails weren’t high enough, the metal was red hot on sunny days and the cool kids would fly down head first. I wasn’t one of the cool kids. I have no idea how many times I climbed those steps only to come back down the same way. The walk of shame! I can still remember the first time I came down that slide. I was sitting at the top trying to pluck up the courage to go for it. I’d probably been there a while – there was usually a queue up the steps, so turning back was almost as scary as the slide itself. And then my mate pushed me, and off I went. I survived. I was angry, but I wasn’t crying – it was the air in my face that was making my eyes water. I remember going home that evening, proud that I’d done the big slide, and I’d done it more times by then too. I probably went to sleep wondering whether I was ready for the roundabout blindfold challenge. This was 43 years ago. Occasionally I look back on moments when I bailed. The job I didn’t apply for, the challenge I shied away from, the holiday I didn’t book, the thing I didn’t buy, the race I entered but didn’t turn up for, the party I didn’t show up to. I wonder what life would have been like if I’d said ‘yes’ more. And then I remind myself that this is all in the past. More often I reflect on the wins. The things that made me proud at the time and still make me proud today. For me, this is the quickest way to bring myself back to my happy state. If I could change one thing about myself today, I’d choose to be more brave. I’ve worked on it over the years, but I’m still no daredevil. Instead I try to surround myself with people who can inspire me, challenge me and remind me what I’m capable of. People who will push me off the slide when I’ve climbed up the steps. I’d love to hear from you. Think about the people you surround yourself with. How do they make you better than you would be without them? And tell me whether you’d have come down that big slide face first!
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