It may not be obvious to most people I meet…

…but I am terrified.  I’m usually running anywhere from mildly nervous to cold sweat terror most days, depending on what category of shit I’ve managed to get myself into.  And see, that’s the frustrating thing: I do this to myself.

For most of the 28 years of my life I have sadistically pursued every opportunity to boldly go where I have no idea what I’m doing, to humiliate myself (the more witnesses the better), and to dive in way over my head and leave the learning to swim for later.

As a child these experiences were thrust on me by my loving family.  When you’re the youngest of three growing up in a military family, the only constant is change.  New friends, new schools, and new neighborhoods shot past as I was yanked along on more than twenty moves before I graduated.  Every day was a shiny new opportunity to forget where I lived, to realize I didn’t know anyone, or to re-learn the Civil War Reconstruction for the third time because “That’s what students learn about in the 6th [7th] [8th] grade in this school.”

But finally I went to college, I got a job, I put down some roots.  But like some kind of perpetual newbie junkie I just can’t quit.  My body now craves the fear of failure.  I search for job openings that I’m slightly unqualified for, thrilled by the prospect of tearing up my career and learning a new one on the fly.  I blow my savings to hurl myself across the globe to cities and cultures I know nothing about, or (a recent favorite of mine) I commit myself to the most incredibly ridiculous task that I am nowhere near equipped to take on.  It’s a problem.

It would be one thing if I were that kind of stereotypical “Adventurer” type – but I’m not.  I’m a soft-spoken introvert.  I could stand to lose like… 20 pounds.  I’m into video games and cooking, and confess to wishing quietly to myself that I could just dip my feet in a tub of warm water and sleep instead of going out on a weekend.  It just shows that anyone can be afflicted.  Any one of us could wake up tomorrow and have committed to climb Mount Everest for charity or purchased a non-refundable ticket to a place we’ve never heard of.

Like any good addict I keep some go-to fixes on hand – I’m sure volunteering to run a national organization with no prior experience, for example, will ensure that I feel inadequate for years to come.  That’s high quality stuff.  But what’s my latest rush?  What keeps me awake and forces me to daily question whether I’m fit to make substantive decisions about my own life and well-being?  The Race.

The Race and everything about it – from funding, to training, to this weird fear I have of the ocean at night – occupy the majority of my thoughts lately.  But that’s exactly why I do it.  The final outcome is so unattainable that the only thing I am more perversely fixated on than the grueling process of actually completing the task is discovering what new, even worse hell I’ll design for myself when it’s all over.

My hope is that by expressing my fear, and walking each step of this journey in full view of everyone I know (and some that I don’t) I can convince some people on the sidelines to get up and live the life they want.  Step 1 is to realize that everyone you see getting up and taking action, no matter how calm they look, is just as terrified as you would be.  I don’t think it ever goes away.

At least it hasn’t for me.

 

**Quick Note**: Today is actually an appropriate (and sad) opportunity to take honest stock of my fear and the danger surrounding the race.  Today it was announced that current crew member Sarah Young met a fatal accident crossing the Pacific.  Without knowing very much about Sarah (only what anyone else can learn online), I can say that I aspire to just a small piece of her bravery.

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