“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”
― Leena Ahmad Almashat, Harmony Letters
My first Tough Mudder was at Whistler in 2013. Even though I would go on to participate in the challenge again in 2014 my first one was where I learned the most about my fears and overcoming them.
Tough Mudder 2013
For those readers that don’t know Tough Mudder is one of many Obstacle Course Races (OCR) held in various cities and countries worldwide. Here competitors are met with pit stops that feature obstacles built around their worst fears such as water, heights, electricity, ice, etc. It tests people physically, mentally and emotionally.
Before attempting it that first year I had already overcome so much. I had lost a significant amount of weight and changed my body in ways I could not have dared imagine. I had walked away from a relationship that was not healthy and I had begun to live on my own as a single parent for the first time in my life.
In order to accomplish those aforementioned changes I had to work around physical limitations from previous injuries and develop a sense of courage in allowing my life to take a different course from the one I thought it was going to take. Finding the determination to do these things convinced me that I could face anything and everything that came my way with unwavering bravery. I was right…to a point.
In my younger days I had been a competitive swimmer. For this reason I assumed going into Tough Mudder that if there was a water obstacle I would handle it with ease.
I could NOT have been more off the mark on that one.
The obstacle in question was “Walk the Plank”. It is exactly as it sounds. Racers walk of the edge of a perfectly sturdy platform approximately 15 feet in height and ideally plummet without hesitation into the cold and murky pool of water below.
I can remember clearly making my way up the makeshift ladders to the platform. All the while I was chanting in my head the mantra “Just jump!”.
Once I got to the top and stepped to the edge my fear took over and I froze. I could not move. I kept trying over and over again to make myself move forward and out into the open air but everything in my body argued against this irrational action.
As I stood there like a deer caught in headlights I became aware of voices. A man behind me from another team was calmly encouraging me to take a deep breath and go for it. He even went as far as to say that he would not go until I had gone. At the same time I realized my teammates were across the makeshift pond cheering me on. They had every faith I could do it, why didn’t I?
Suddenly it dawned on me. In order to take that leap of faith I had to trust and let go of control over the situation. I knew I was safe in the presence of lifeguards, I knew I wasn’t doing this in a reckless fashion. I knew that the chances of something dire happening were very, very low. I knew in that moment that I had to acknowledge my fear and then choose to not let it control me or the outcome.
I took a deep breath and calmed my mind. I took 3 steps forward and found myself jumping and then descending not so gracefully through the air. When I hit that frigid, soupy liquid I had never felt something so glorious and yet so shocking to the body at the same time. I reached up and broke the surface of the water and let out a little yelp.
As I was swimming to the edge I saw all these beautiful souls that were supporting me, not only through Tough Mudder but through so many other ‘obstacles’ and celebrations of life, standing and waiting to help me out. As I crawled onto the mud and dirt I felt …. unstoppable. I had faced my fear head on and it had not won.
Since that day I went on to do the Tough Mudder in 2014, fought in two novice boxing matches, did a post-transformation modelling session, competed in a transformation competition on stage and expanded my horizons in numerous other ways. I also fought and continue to fight to comeback from another major accident and other trauma.
Don’t get me wrong… I feel fear – but in those moments I come back to that plank. I remember that I am braver than I think I am, that I am more capable than I think I am and that my fear, while being a useful human part of me, will never control me again.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I wish for you all the ability to do something that scares you. It might be changing jobs, going back to school, leaving a relationship, trying a new food or walking off a perfectly good structure and plummeting into the water below.
Whatever that thing is for you know that you are brave, you are capable and you too can face your fear and “Just Jump”.
Tough Mudder 2014
Fight 4 The Cause 2014
Left Before: 2011
Right After: 2014 Transformation Photoshoot
Transformation Challenge 2015
Photo Credits: Lee Milliken Photography, Trevor Ball, Armando Tura
Makeup Artistry: Michelle Jeanpierre