Soon my husband and I will begin an ambitious journey on the El Camino de Santiago. We will walk 500 miles in six weeks. And although I am excited, I am a little scared as well.
What would the world look like if everyone gave in to their feelings of anxiety and fear? I imagine a rather boring place with no risks, no excitement, and an environment where nothing gets accomplished.
Unfortunately, fear of the unknown, fear of change and fear of what others might think, hinders most of us from being our better selves. It’s hard to let go of fear and trust that you’ll figure it out one way or another.
“Your largest fear, carries your biggest growth.”
I am nervous to walk the Camino. There I said it. But guess what? I’m still going to do it!
Here are the five reasons I’m nervous to walk the Camino, but am doing it anyway.
#1 I have never completed a thru-hike. What if I don’t like it?
A thru-hike is a long distance hike that is completed from end to end. The Camino Francės is 500 miles from start to finish. It may not be the longest that exists, but long nonetheless. Compared to the Appalachian Trail of over 2,000 miles, it is short. But for a person who has never walked day after day after day, it is a hefty challenge.
Weather changes everything. Rain or fog for an extended period of time can put a damper on any hike. Now multiply that by days at a time! The path gets muddy and the landscape is dreary. Oh how I hope we don’t run into a rainy season in Spain.
The main concern here is what if I don’t like it? Waking up and walking 12 – 15 miles on average is not something you know you like until you do it. I keep telling myself it’s only six weeks long and worse case scenario, I ditch my husband and bus it to Santiago. He will find me wearing heels (just because I can) with luxuries such as a fourth pair of underwear in the drawer of the hotel room that I have all to myself. Although I don’t think this will happen, I will hold on to this fantasy with every step if I have to.
#2 I have to carry all my belongings on my back.
Not only have I never done a thru-hike, I have never carried all I am traveling with on my back. My two concerns with backpacking are the physical challenge of walking with it on every day and packing for a three month long trip (we are road tripping through Portugal and southern Spain afterward) into a small bag.
Backpacking requires a simple lifestyle. The goal is to keep the backpack weight at 10% of your body weight. That leaves me with 12 pounds to work with. I bought a new lightweight bag to help me keep the weight down. I can’t wait to try it out.
#3 I have a funny feeling hostels and snoring do not equal quality sleep.
I need my sleep. Every now and then missing out on a few z’s is not a big deal. BUT if there are multiple days in a row where I cannot get quality sleep, I’m afraid a monster will appear on the trail. And that monster will be me.
Yes, I am bringing ear plugs. And yes, we can get private rooms or stay in hotels. But I would like to experience the trail as a pilgrim, keeping costs and expectations low. I guess I can catch cat naps during the day.
#4 I am fearful my feet will betray me.
I bought new trail runners and have been breaking them in for the last few weeks, but you never really know if a shoe has issues until it’s too late.
I bought a pair of cute but functional shoes that were fine for 5-7 mile jaunts. After a 20 mile day in New York City, I realized they were garbage.
An injury and/or blisters are the two concerns I have regarding the walk. We are not leaving home without duct tape (because you know that works for everything), mole skin, ointment, pain relievers, and bandaids. Hopefully we are prepared and I will report no major issues.
#5 I’ll be smoked by a few baby boomers.
I know the Camino is not a competition or race, but I can’t help but worry that a random baby boomer is going to make me feel horrible about myself.
Imagine. I’m slowly bumbling along the trail asking myself how many more steps I can take and a person thirty years older than me breezes by with a smile and a look of absolute bliss. No pain. No concern. They are just happy as can be making their way on the path.
I know it shouldn’t bother me. I should feel motivated and inspired by such a thing. Instead I’m wondering if I will be able to hide my look of frustration and utter disbelief that I was smoked by a boomer!
Despite all these worries, I am going to put my walking shoes on and take it one step at a time… literally.
Why you ask?
I am young, I am free and I am healthy. So why not? It’s time to put my nerves aside and do something out of my comfort zone.
Will walking till my legs feel like they are going to fall off be the best experience of my life? I can’t say until I try it, but at least I am willing to try.
I urge you to do something out of your comfort zone this year. Life is short and full of surprises. We don’t know how long we will be here so why not do something that challenges our norm. You never know what you’ll learn from it.
Camino here we come!
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