The declaration

It’s four weeks until my flight leaves.

I’m freaking out a little. I’ve actually avoided writing about this until now, mostly out of fear. Although I’ve alluded to it in previous posts, I’ve just kind of popped it in there really casually, and so far no one has questioned it. But the time for casual allusions has passed. So I now declare: in about four weeks’ time, I will begin my attempt to solo through-hike the Bibbulmun Track, which stretches about 1000 km from Perth to Albany, in the south-west of Western Australia. I want to write a separate post about my reasons for doing the walk, which vary depending on when you ask me, but it is definitely related to mental wellbeing, movement, nature, challenge

So, why so scary to declare it?

Mostly because I’m afraid that I will fail in my attempt. For various reasons, such as:
– My body will break down and I will get an overuse injury and will be in too much pain to keep going (this is my number one fear).
– My body will be going well until I have some sort of injury/accident (roll my ankle, break my leg etc) and I will be too injured (from a one off occasion though, not from overuse).
Actually they are the main two reasons I think I would be most likely to ‘fail’. Other minor reasons have crossed my mind but they are so unlikely that they hardly bear mentioning (but I will anyway), namely:
– I get raped/murdered by a freaky bush dude, (although as I type this two thoughts go through my mind: a) would that be MY failure to complete the walk? I dont think so, and b) if I were raped and murdered, somehow I don’t think I’d be caring about the shame of failure)
– There’s some massive natural disaster like a big bushfire or something that makes it unsafe to continue
– I just get sick of it and give up. (Should this one be in the top list, as more likely to actually happen’?)

Anyway, that’s my list/s of why I think I might fail.

But why is failure such a big deal?

Why is my fear of failure such that I don’t even want to publicly display/announce my intention to do the walk in the first place? I find it uncomfortable and also interesting to observe my internal environment when I imagine writing another post being like, so, I lasted X number of days, and now I’m back home, I didn’t finish. The biggie that comes up is really shame, I suppose. In case you’re wondering about the difference between shame and embarrassment, Brene Brown differentiates shame, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment as follows: Shame, I am bad; guilt, I did something badThe only difference between shame and humiliation is I don’t feel like I deserve my humiliation. The hallmark of embarrassment is I know I’m not alone. It’s fleeting

So, to expand on that – it’s about my self-talk.

If I viewed it as: if I fail on my mission to complete the walk in one go, I have failed as a person, and/or, I’m not good enough as a person ? then that’s shame. If I viewed it as, dammit, I did that thing that so many other people have done and I underestimated the training needed, so now I haven’t finished, oh well, it won’t be a big deal by the time next week rolls around; that’s more like embarrassment. The difference between my worth as a person resting on my ability to achieve this goal I’ve set for myself, and my worth as a person being completely intact regardless of whether I finish or not, is quite big. And putting it in writing like this makes me think, wtf? Of course my worth as a person doesn’t rest on this fact. And yet, there is an underlying (high achieving, high standards) part of myself that is very much tied to achieving goals and this being related to self-worth. I don’t know where exactly I learned this life lesson but obviously it’s happened at some point. I also don’t actually know how to go about changing this belief, but I figure that awareness is the first point. So far, even given my awareness of this part of myself, all that’s happened is I just continue to put myself in situations where I might fail (or do something that I could construe as failure, which in my high-standards life actually means not doing everything perfectly the first time) and every time I do fail – feeling really, really really uncomfortable, instead of hiding in a corner and never doing anything risky. I don’t know if it’s possible to get to a point where I could actually feel truly ok about failing – and I don’t mean telling other people I feel fine while I’m cringing on the inside, or telling myself some long-winded justification story where I try to convince myself that I should feel fine about it when really I feel shame. I mean actually just think to myself, oh, thats not so bad. Every one fucks up sometimes. You’re alright.

It’s on the list of things I’m working towards!

Anyway, all that to say – I’m planning this big walk, and yeah. There’s a lot about it that scares me. I haven’t even gone into the fact that I’ll be alone in the remote Aussie bush with no phone reception and no tv to watchNext time!


4 Replies to “The declaration”

  1. Thank you for publishing your goal! That is the bravest thing. I loved the separate explanations for shame, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment. Makes sense and Brene Brown sure knows her stuff! The older I get the more I think that trying and failing at things without attaching value and self worth to that process, is the meaning of life. We are all on that journey yet we are often critical of ourselves and others which perpetuates the cycle of shame. Congrats on breaking this cycle of failure-shame for yourself Louise and naming your ambitions. Wishing you all the best on this inspiring sojourn. Can’t wait to hear the next installment ?

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Rebecca! I agree, Brene Brown’s stuff is awesome – I really recommend all her books, if you haven’t read them! You make a good point that we’re not only critical of ourselves, but also of others when they fail. So I guess there’s also lessons to learn in not only how to let yourself fail, but to be ok with others failing too! Thanks for expanding my thoughts on this topic 🙂 xx

  2. You’ll be all alone in the Aussie bush with trees and birds to watch! You’ll get really good quality, screen-free time with yourself. And you’ll meet friendly, nature-loving people too. Meet me for a coffee at Cosy Corner!! x

    1. Yes I’m looking forward to the forced time away from the tv. Although I’ll still have my phone…so willpower will still be required. Most definitely will be having coffee at Cosy Corner! xx

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