There is no time for fear; a sentence I heard from someone’s blog story. When they first told me about that sentence, I was very skeptical and waved it away because how is that possible? There is always fear, is what I believed. Until now.
After being on the ranch for two and a half months, I have seen myself change from an insecure, scared person, who blamed a lot of things on her surroundings, to someone who is willing to take responsibility for her actions and has the courage to stand up for the things she believes in.
I have not always been scared, insecure and unproductive. But the choices I have made and the things that happened in my past shaped me into someone like that. Having experience with being bullied and always feeling like a ‘lemon’, or the odd one out with friends and family, I started blaming everyone else for my behaviour and looking for reasons as to why I was feeling bad. I wanted an excuse to act a certain way, or to display myself in a certain manner. Instead of being proactive, I was a reactive person.
Being at the ranch has definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things and made me realize that if I wanted to reach my goal of being a charismatic leader there were some things that I needed to reconsider.
The main thing that helped me evolve so much, is the sentence ‘Your life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. And actually being able to live this concept.
During my first weeks at the ranch, I was out of my comfort zone every day. I slept in a tent, which I was incredibly scared of, because what if a spider crawls into my sleeping bag? Shoeing a horse, but I was too scared to hurt the horse. Riding over steep slopes to the middle of nowhere, where no one will be able to help you if something goes wrong.
After being in camp for a few days, I met someone who had no trouble getting me to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy what I was doing. We bush whacked through the woods, rode on high tops and I even had the courage to lead the way back on the steep slopes we passed on the way towards camp. Which I never thought I was able to do when I was at camp for the first few days. Here, I began my transformational journey of personal growth.
Even though I was proud of that, my mind still spiraled to the negative side of things as soon as I had time to think. And instead of looking at how amazing everything was, I got stuck in self-pity again and felt like a victim.
I felt like I should hide out in the office for the rest of my 11 weeks and get through my stay here like that. “There is no purpose to stepping out of my comfort zone, because I don’t want to feel back pains and be tired” was what I thought.
But after being in the office for a few weeks, seeing people with huge smiles after being on a pack trip, hearing their incredible stories and seeing them evolve into such strong people made me long to go up into the mountains and see the beautiful nature again.
Even though I still felt super scared and not ready, I was offered the chance to go on a trip into the mountains with other staff and took the jump. I even got a project to work on whilst being up there . ‘Interview the other staff members and make videos of them.’
Even though the pack trip was a success, I felt broken once I got back to the ranch. During that trip, I put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to do things right. Besides that I was scared of things that still had to come. I was scared I did not do it right and I needed everything to be perfect right from the start. I felt like I did not have the abilities to make something successful and do what was expected of me. Low self-confidence and self- pity took over, again.
Even though I felt like that for the first few days after the trip, I re-discovered something I had been missing for a long time. I realized that all my years of postponing working on my photography was a waste, because I actually have an eye for finding the right spots and use my creative brain for something purposeful.
Even though I am a rookie at videoing and editing, I found that I really enjoyed it. I also realized that after every interview I did with a certain person I felt inspired. Something I can’t even remember feeling and on top of that, I have gained so many insights on life that I would never have if I did not take that first step to engage in going on this trip and talk to these people on a more deeper level than just about life at home, or what I will do once I get back home.
When I got back to the ranch, I started working on these videos; and again, I felt inspired. Things that I did not really hear whilst they were talking to me in the mountains came to my attention whilst sitting there and taking the time to really listen.
From this day forward, I found something I really enjoyed doing and on top of that, people actually liked what I did and told me I was talented. Which again, gave me a feeling of accomplishment.
Even though I felt like I was growing, I felt like I should not go back on a trip. I was tired, in pain and just wanted to feel safe and sound behind my desk at the office, editing videos and work on school. But, if there is one thing have learned, the office gets boring really quick.
After being out of your comfort zone, on top of mountains with untouched nature for miles to see there is a piece of you that will stay behind there and you will feel like you have to go back.
Then, one day, close to the leaving date of two of my friends at the ranch, the girl who arrived at the ranch at the exact same time as I did and I talked about how we should go out together, just once, before she had to leave.
Luckily enough, the next day Kevan would go out into the mountains, to meet up with a wildlife viewing pack trip to go and count Mountain Goats for a day, together with Kristin. She was the first person to get me to step out of my comfort zone in the beginning of my adventure and it seemed like a great opportunity to go out with two of my friends for one last time.
And in my head, it seemed like a great idea for me to join them. But as the day went on and we talked more about going out the next day, I started to doubt my abilities again and I was not sure if I should join them on this trip. This trip was not just going on a trail ride, but really riding on mountain tops that no people but Kevan and a few others had ever been on. This meant dangerous slopes, a lot of difficult walks downhill and not having any trail to follow for a whole day, on top of mountains.
I doubted if I should join them, and wanted to cancel last minute, but after a good conversation with Dana and Kristin I knew this was a challenge I had to take on and I had to face my fears, otherwise I would take the easy way out and not grow.
The next morning, we left the ranch at 5am for the trailhead nearby with 4 horses in a trailer, 1 of them crazy and one of them never ridden before by any of us.
We would meet the others at 9am. Once we met them, we went up the mountains and would be riding for the rest of the day.
The day was so crazy, it was a day I would never forget.
We rode on top of mountains, that only mountain goats had walked on before. Lisa and her horse almost slid down a steep slope and Dana’s horse Jones fell twice because of the unsteady rocks. But we got rewarded all day long with magnificent views, fresh air and above all some mountain goats! And I felt alive. I forgot all about the stupid, pointless worries that spooked through my head before going on this trip and I realized how much I should cherish these moments and this feeling of being completely satisfied. So that is what I started doing.
After a whole day of riding, it was time to go back to the ranch. We left camp at 8:30pm and it was still a 5-hour ride back to the trailhead. Which meant we would be riding through the dark, more than half of our trip in Grizzly and Cougar Country. On the ride back, I really had to focus on the person in front of me to not get lost. The only thing I could see was pitch black darkness and a vague figure moving in front of me. Until I turned on my flashlight, which was better because I could see Dana ride in front of me, but because of the light I attracted many many moths. Less fun.
At 12:30 at night, we arrived back at the trail head and packed up to go to bed. The next day came and instead of crying, like I had done after every trip before, I was happy. I walked around the ranch and felt that something had changed in me. I felt proud, because I fully stepped out of my comfort zone and felt like I had grown a massive amount.
The next week at the ranch, I noticed how much I had actually changed into the person that I wanted to become. I started focusing on things that mattered to me and I started to take responsibility for the things I was doing. As well as stepping into a leadership role I used to be scared to step in. And I felt comfortable in my role. I felt like myself, a feeling I did not know I would ever feel a year ago.
Right now, I realize that the biggest mistake I ever made was to let other people tell me who I was and believing them. Because that made me adapt to a negative mindset and stopped me from engaging in things I always wanted to do. Because I was scared of what others would think of me, or to fail. I now know that I am a strong person and a decent leader and I will strive every day to be the person I want to be and try to accomplish the things I want to accomplish in life. My transformational journey continues.
There is no time for fear.
Author: Maaike, Belgium
Photocredits: Kristin Noack