I wish someone had told me to embrace discomfort earlier in life
“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week we have a bumper post by Purple Group’s Justin Pearse, a.k.a. Ultrabloke.
I had the most incredible run a few weeks back. It followed a short session of deep thought, contemplation and planning – as we often indulge in early in the year.
It was late afternoon and sticky-hot, so I headed out shirtless to stay cool. I was just five minutes into a planned one hour run when the heavens opened to deliver a Johannesburg thunderstorm of biblical proportions. My immediate thoughts were either do to a quick 180 and head home, or to duck into the garage across the road and wait it out.
On quick reflection, what did I have to lose? Nothing. It was only water. I would dry. And so thankfully, my final, more exciting and adventurous thought was to carry on. I did just that… and it was one of the most enjoyable runs I can remember.
The rain, and the heaviness of it, didn’t abate or even slow for one minute of the remaining 60 of the run and I got completely and utterly drenched. But the combination of the watery sound over that of my breathing, slightly distorted vision and the feeling of heavy cool raindrops on my skin all combined to make it an almost magical experience – one I could have missed altogether had I turned around or sought shelter.
The idea of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is by no means a new one. It’s often appears on the pages of self-help literature the world over. Renowned author and podcaster Tim Ferriss (of whom I’m a massive fan) often talks about the philosophy of Stoicism and how it has benefited him in his life.
Stoic thinking and teachings resonate with me and on many levels. They carry a kind of truth that resonates with me. The benefits of incorporating them very consciously into my life have never been as clear in my mind as they were on that day. It was as if the elements were conspiring to make me hop, skip and jump my way through that magical run.
The fun I had made me think about favourite memories and what made them so clear and special. Almost without fail, the vast majority involved either an initial doubt (sometimes bordering on mild anxiety) about the upcoming trip / task / event, or some happening during it (sometimes expected / anticipated, other times a completely unforeseen act of God) that resulted in it being special in a way that stamped itself irrevocably on my heart and mind.
Out of three visits to the famous Glastonbury Festival in the UK, the most memorable was the one where it rained the whole weekend. 165,000 people trying to survive the elements in muddy fields in the English countryside seems somehow to create a collective tribal “us against the elements” bond.
In many respects I like to think of myself as an adventurous soul that never shies away from adventure and possible discomfort. Yet I often abstain from things as simple as a swim with the kids if I think it might be too cold. Or perhaps the need to dry myself and change afterwards is simply too impractical at the time. When I do take the plunge, I invariably enjoy it. Even if it’s cold or impractical, the time spent watching my kids frolic with childlike abandon is priceless.
So the next time you think about bailing on a ride or run because the weather looks ominous, or a friend asks you to join them on a camping or hiking trip which isn’t what you normally do, or your boss asks you to run with a task / project that makes you anxious, just lean in and go for it. You never know what magical, life-changing results may come of it.