This is the story of how, as an 18 year old, I became one of the youngest British teens to walk across the Sinai desert raising £100,000 for charity. It also tells of the struggles I faced then and now, and how I have made this into a positive.
What challenge does this story focus on?
This focuses on the 2 weeks I trekked the Sinai desert for charity. It took 2 weeks of walking to complete and during this time I suffered from injuries that meant that in my mind I didn't 'walk' the whole trek so this somehow devalued my experience. When talking to others I felt I was being fraudulent and had failed. I spent years avoiding certain questions or talking about it. It also meant that with new challenges I always struggled as I did not believe I was 'good enough' to succeed.
How has this challenge affected you?
I doubted myself for a long time after the trek. I have ankle injuries which meant a lot of the walking was painful and I spent a lot of the time riding camels. In my mind this meant that I had failed at 'walking' the desert. I wouldn't talk to people about this and was very negative on myself.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
Going to a Touch meeting really inspired me to look at my own way of thinking and to realise that others were not judging me, I was the one putting words in others' mouths. I was assuming and not allowing others to actually say how they felt. I found myself turning my internal language from negative to positive and taking control of my feelings. I realised that I was comparing myself to others rather than focusing on the fact that I should just challenge myself, which with the trek I far succeeded my own expectations.
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
I have learnt that I cannot judge myself based on what I believe others think or feel. I have to create my own challenges and celebrate when I achieve these. I remember sitting at the top of a mountain in the desert with my friend (the person who oversaw the whole trek) and him encouraging me that now that I had completed this, that I would rise to new challenges. I promised him that I would keep going in life, keep travelling and doing things to make me happy. Unfortunately he passed away unexpectedly some years ago and I never got the chance to tell him all the things I have done since. However to know that I have kept my word, completed other challenges and continue to live life to the fullest, allows me to know that wherever he is now, he should be proud of the influence he has had on my life.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
I am far less harsh on myself and less judging. I do still struggle sometimes but I have more great memories that I can use to help myself feel better. These are now memories that are not marred by guilt or doubt. I also know that I am a lot stronger than I think I am and can challenge myself with new tasks. I also know that I have a support network in Touch that is always there if I need anything. Having people who understand and have their own challenges is a huge comfort. To also know that I may help others to feel better or at least lend an ear to help them with their struggles makes a huge difference.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
I would love people to think that self-doubt can affect anyone in any way but it can get better. I feel that I have made huge steps in the last few months compared to the last few years, all it takes is something to change your way of thinking and I found this at Touch.