This year decided to start doing stuff I wouldn’t normally do (don’t worry not the ironing) because, well why the hell not? So I signed up to do a 100 mile bike ride and some public speaking.
Obviously it’s easy to write glib phrases and be all super confident about trying new things like I’m some kind of sassy explorer but the truth?
Both of these things give me the terrible shits.
Let’s start with the bike ride. If you put forward the idea of cycling 100 miles for charity you will elicit very different reactions. Type A people look horrified and try to change the subject while Type B people tell you about the 500 mile bike ride they completed in the desert whilst juggling and wearing a canoe on their head. Then there are the Type C’s, these are the kind of people who sign up for charity bike rides whilst drunk because they have very little concept of distance.
No prizes for guessing which category I fall into. 100 miles on a bike is like running 5k, no?
I had not ridden a bike for 15 years. I had never ridden a road bike. I did not own a bike. Or a helmet. Or any of that ridiculous lycra stuff.
A few months later and I now own a bike and a helmet. I have bought lycra. From Aldi. I have spent the past few weekends training, I’ve made raw cacao energy balls and I think I’m ready, but I’m still bloody terrified.
It’s not the physical pain I’m worried about, I can handle the saddle sore, the shoulder pain and the aching legs. I’m mildly concerned about falling off but on the whole cycling around Yorkshire is fun plus my daughter gave me some great advice ’If you go too fast Mummy just ride into a bush.’
The thing that worries me is failing. To be more precise giving up. What if I get to 70 miles and just think ‘Fuck it I’m done’? No one ever thinks they’re a quitter but what if the reason you’ve never given up on anything is because you’ve never done anything that’s really challenged you?
It’s the same with the public speaking.
I worked with many different television presenters and they all had one thing in common. They all quite liked being the centre of attention. I don’t mean this in a bitchy way – more that they were comfortable taking up their own space. Putting yourself forward, taking up public space, it’s the kind of thing I’d encourage more women to do.
In a blog post. Written from the comfort of my own kitchen.
But when I did actually stand up and talk in public it was really scary. You can be a strong, confident person and still not massively enjoy having everybody in a room staring at you.
Over the past few years I’ve done other stuff that terrified me. Starting a blog. Writing a book. Driving solo to London with two children. And the lesson I’ve learned from doing these things, apart from ALWAYS pack spare clothes, is that the scary things are often the ones that make you feel proudest.
And if anything gets too much you can always just cycle into a bush.