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.

 

It’s Simple, but Hard

Challenging yourself is a fairly simple concept, but not easy. Take hiking for example, it’s simple enough; you pack your gear, put one foot after another and walk, just like you do everyday at home to get from one place to another. But, hiking is hard.

It’s hard because it hurts. There’s nothing anyone can do to take away the pain. Even the fittest athletes in the world have to endure pain when they are training, competing or just taking part in their sport of choice for a bit of fun. I’m a fit hiker and I’m used to carrying 20kg+ in my pack, but it hurts like a bastard. My muscles ache, especially my legs and I have a weird hard lump that comes up on my right shoulder. Sometimes it goes down, sometimes it stays put for a couple of months at a time. I get blisters, my pack chafes my lower back and hips. If I hike for more than one day my feet really hurt and it feels like every step I take is a step into a bucket of boiling water.

All of it hurts, but that’s the whole point of challenging myself. I don’t love the pain, I’m not a freak, but I do love the fact that I can push through it and get to the end of the trail and basically say, “fuck you, pain, I smashed you down!” That’s when I feel like I own the world.

Photos online of adventures and adventurers mostly show happy people who are having a great ol’ time in nature with their buddies, but what the photos rarely show is how hard adventuring can be: the brand new tent that leaked like a sieve in a sudden downpour, saturating my down sleeping bag; the rat that ate through my previous hiking tent in an attempt to get to my granola, which I shouldn’t have had in the tent in the first place; getting shot at and having to spend the night at a police station in a town thousands of kilometres away from my home; getting covered in leeches and ticks and having to go to the doctor because almost my entire body came up in a disgusting pimply rash; having to cut a shirt up to tie socks to my feet because my boots caused most of my toenails to lift off; getting lost in the bush and wandering around for hours in the dark; on and on it goes. Yeah, these things are hard and some of them bad, but they didn’t kill me and I got through them, just like I get through the real pain of challenging myself.

I don’t get through these things because I’m better, stronger or more physically able than other people. I get through them because of the story I tell myself about who I am. That story is about a person who is one tough mofo. This mofo can smash down enemies and rise above those who seek to bring her down. It’s a story about a bad-ass mofo who is the master at overcoming adversity and coming out the other side of a challenge with her integrity intact. I get through the hard stuff because I tell myself that I’m a person who can get through the hard stuff, after which I literally become a person who can get through the hard stuff.

What I’m saying here is this: It’s pretty much all in your head. If you accept the pain and suffering, the only thing that will prevent you from achieving your goal is the voice in your head; your voice: It’s all up to you.

Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

Taken in 2015 right before most of my toenails lifted off and I had to tie socks to my feet to continue the hike. I still had more than 20km to go and one more night at a walker’s camp before pick up.