Own your own worry

Last night I had a conversation with some people about the way I live my life. The general consensus from the male perspective is that I’m doing dangerous stuff and shouldn’t be doing it. One man said, “if you were my daughter I wouldn’t let you do that.” Um, but, hello, me and the daughter are both women in our forties who have autonomy over our own lives and decisions, so it’s not up to third parties to decide for us what we can and can’t do. I wonder then, how did he think he would enforce this control or police it? I also have men ask me, “does your husband let you do that?” To which I respond, “It’s not up to him. He’s not in charge of me. I am.”

I do some hardcore stuff. Stuff that I accept is not considered “normal”, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or dangerous, it just means that it’s not mainstream and when people hear about it, they don’t know what to make of it and it makes them uncomfortable, especially men. I’ve noticed that women respond much differently and are for the most part very interested in what I do. I’ve yet to come across a woman who says, “If you were my daughter I wouldn’t let you do that.”

The main issue that comes up is the idea that “someone” is going to “get” me. And that causes worry, which causes discomfort, which is then somehow my fault.  Ok, so there’s two problems with this. One is the totally illogical idea that someone is going to get me. It’s dumb for several reasons:

  • old mate isn’t just going to hide out in the national park for months on end in the hope that me specifically is going to wander along at some random point in the day or night
  • the world isn’t as dangerous as everyone thinks it is, even though the media and Facebook newsfeeds have brain washed us into believing that everyone is out to bomb,rob, kill and rape us
  • the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home with a man she knows, not hiking alone at night or doing anything at anytime of day or night on her own
  • women can look after themselves and don’t need the constant presence of a man or permission of a man to do whatever the hell they want to do
  • I am not stupid
  • Would they think the same thing if I was male

The other problem is about the discomfort of worry. I get that people are concerned about different things. That’s fine. I get concerned too, but I rarely worry in the sense that thinking about something a certain way elicits an emotional state. That’s because it’s a pointless waste of time. Worrying never changed anything, it just made you feel like crap.

Three men, who are all my friends said, “Don’t do that because I will worry about you.” I said, “Ok, thanks, but that’s not actually my problem.” See, it isn’t. It’s really not. Not at all. If you worry about someone, then that’s your monkey, not the person’s you’re worrying about. Worrying about someone makes you feel uncomfortable, which you then try to transfer onto said person, attempting to arrest their desire to do whatever it is that is causing you to worry, so they won’t do it and thus alleviating your worry and discomfort. Take this little story for example:

Jane: I’m going to hike the Fraser Island Great Walk by myself next weekend.

Dick: Really? I don’t think you should. Not by yourself.

Jane: Why not?

Dick: The dingos and stuff, it could be dangerous. I’ll worry about you.

Then, Jane is who is a really nice chic, but has yet to fully embrace autonomy over her own life concedes that maybe Dick is right. After all, she really cares about him and doesn’t want to upset him. It was silly of her to think that she could do these things alone.

Jane: Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I don’t want to worry you.

Dick: Ahh, that’s good.

And back they go to watching TV and swiping on their phones. Problem seemingly solved, well, for Dick anyway.

Women don’t need to have the permission of men to live the life they want. If you want to do something and a man says that it will cause him to worry, let him own his own worry. You don’t have to be as blunt as me by saying that it’s not your problem, but just remember that it’s really not, not at all, never was.

Embrace autonomy. It’s yours for the taking.

 

The $40 000 Fundraising Project

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On the 17th of September 2019 I set off on a 450km solo and unsupported hike from my home in Woodgate to the Brisbane CBD (itinerary). I did this to raise funds and awareness for Brain Injury and also because I wanted to have an adventure. During the hike I raised in excess of $5000. My target is $40 000, so I still have a ways to go and the best part of the year to get it done. All that money will go to The PA Research Foundation and STEPS, which are collaborators in providing rehabilitation for those struck down with a traumatic brain injury. Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Having a brain injury myself, I am a member of my local STEPS support group who meet in Bundaberg every month. Brain injury is known as the invisible disability and I got to talk to a lot of people, including the Minister of Health (Hon. Dr Steven Miles) about what it means to live with such a disability. “Gees, you look fine.” “There’s no way I’d ever think that you had a disability.” “Yeah, but there’s nothing wrong with you though.” Were some of the responses I got from people I met along the way.

This was the second big hike I’ve done. In 2016 I walked almost 400km to raise money for brain cancer. Since I completed that first hike I’ve been training pretty hard, which made my hike to Brisbane much easier than the 2016 hike. My attitude has probably shifted a fair bit too because on that first hike I came to learn that I am an amazing person who can achieve unbelievable things, but that I’m not special. I’m just like everyone else; the only difference being that I’m someone who had an idea and I made the idea happen. All of us can do that; you have my permission to be awesome too!

me, damien and Minister

Damien Topp (CEO PA Research Foundation) Me and the Hon. Dr Steven Miles (Health Minister) in Brisbane on my arrival. (photo: Sue Wright STEPS).