Nothing has changed...
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
If you looked at me then and compared me now, maybe nothing seems to have changed because I am still a woman not rowing the Atlantic... but in some ways I feel I have crossed an emotional ocean!
After much to-ing and fro-ing I thought I had finally made the decision that, no matter what obstacles were put in my path, I was determined to row and I was going to force it through. But I am not a single entity - I have a partner, dependents, and students; so deeper currents and winds came to move my thoughts and feelings around. I found myself being pulled, pushed and twisted; making no progress in either key direction. I had been told "If you get asked, you must do it"... but that guy doesn't know me* so thanks, but that can be put back in well meaning advice box!
I had known that I needed to give the others the green light soon, but I knew couldn't get it soon enough from either traffic signal. In the interim I had made progress and begun to write the business plan of why I should row, and how I would create the right logistical conditions, and it was in this period of deep forward-pressing research, that I knew it wasn't the challenge for me right yet. Sleeplessness exposed it; the night before I was due to meet the boat I remained awake. I have struggled so much with getting decent sleep over the last ten years, that I do all I can to eliminate my triggers. Alcohol is probably joint top along with mental turmoil, but I hadn't drunk in nearly 8 months so I detached, and watched my thoughts and finally found my answer.
Being asked was a humbling but unsettling request; it may have taken me nearly 6 months, but I finally realised that some of the reasons why I wanted to do this right now were not the same joyful driving reasons behind my 42+ challenges of personal adventure. With so many great reasons to row, and as many not to, the swaying decisions to row the Atlantic annoyingly kept coming back to external validation, and it's something we have been so conditioned to desire. 'What will this person and that person think?', how will my self acceptance change with this new way others might see me, might I finally be enough? Unbeknownst to many I am someone with long-term low self-esteem, and even now I'm still carrying the residual trauma of bullying, exclusion, etc. so it is too easy to default to the story of 'if I this, or that', then maybe the people that don't like me/respect me/other... will suddenly change their minds? I have concluded they may well solidify their existing feelings or not even notice, and actually that's fine, so unless every reason to row 2hours on and 2 hours off for over 42 day was right for me, then I won't. The most rewarding events of late have been when I chosen my own line, and have leant into all the hard stuff (thoughts, conversations and decisions) because I know them to be the right path for me.
So others might view this as a failure, but I don't. I have reminded myself that I am brave enough to have boundaries, and I have the freedom to say no.
But thank you for asking, the next challenge might be the right one!
(*nor did he tell me my pitch to talk about small scale adventures that he had requested... hadn't made his cut)