Feel the fear and walk on fire anyway (part 2)

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It’s three-thirty on a slightly cloudy Saturday afternoon. I’m wearing a pair of old jeans, rolled up to my calves, and a pink t-shirt with the college logo on, and I’m stood at the end of a 10 metre walk of fire.  I can hear people around me shouting my name, and then the guy next to me says ‘ok, go!’  But I can’t.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had agreed to do a fire walk for charity but had begun to feel extremely apprehensive about my decision in the weeks leading up to the event. On the day, I was kept busy taking photos of visitors to the college and the impending activity was pushed to the back of my mind.  However, as I made my way to the training session prior to the walk, I started to feel very anxious.

Anyone who says a fire walk is purely a question of mind over matter isn’t correct. While you certainly need the courage to step onto the coals, it is science which will take you across them safely without any burns to your feet.  I won’t go into it all here, but there are numerous factors which protect you provided you follow instructions and don’t mess about.  The instructor told us a few recent stories of people posing for photos mid-walk, pushing others onto the fire, and even rolling around in it.  Needless to say, those tales did not have happy endings.

Once the briefing was over, we had five minutes to change and make our way outside, where an eager crowd of colleagues, students, friends and family were waiting for us. We were announced one-by-one and took our places at the start of the walk.  At this point I felt genuinely afraid.  Despite all the logic telling me it would be fine, I felt terrified.  I watched the first of my colleagues walk across the hot coals, the spectators cheering them on, and very quickly, it was my turn, and I hesitated.

Then, the instructor, who was stood at the other end of the walk, shouted ‘look at me!’ and I stepped forward. Within seconds, I was at the other end having done my fire walk; what a relief!

That’s it! I thought.  I’ve done it now.  Yet, my colleagues were walking again, and now we were being invited to hold hands and walk in a line across the coals.  I joined them for this one, but it wasn’t quite as quick as I would have liked and I did get a couple of tiny, and I do mean tiny, burns on my feet.  (I’m typing this the following day, and they’re absolutely fine).  However, that really was it for me.  The others were braver, and continued walking, even over flames.

I can’t say I enjoyed the experience because well, obviously, I didn’t. I wouldn’t do it again, and I certainly didn’t feel elated, as I had been told I would do; I just felt relieved it was over.  However, I am quite proud of myself for facing fear and overcoming it, and in the process, raising money for charity.

Feel the fear and walk on fire anyway (part 1)

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A couple of months ago the director of the college where I work announced that among the many activities taking place to celebrate our open day in a new building, would be a fire walk for charity. I was one of the first to sign up for it.  What an exciting thing to do, I thought.  However, as the weeks went by and the realisation of what I had agreed to do began to sink in, I started to get cold feet (excuse the pun!).

I began thinking of ways to get out of it; I didn’t think I could raise the target amount, I wasn’t sure I’d be brave enough to go through with it on the day, all of which were met with reasonable responses; don’t worry about the money, just raise as much as you can, and you don’t have to do the walk, but it will be fine, you’ve nothing to worry about.

The colleagues of mine who are not braving the hot coals have been extremely supportive; offering to have a bucket of water and various burns treatments on standby for me. How kind of them!

Well, it’s only a few days away now, and I’m still apprehensive, but we’re going to have a training session beforehand, and I’m reassured that a few other usually ‘sensible types’ from work are walking with me too. I’ve decided that I just have to go for it and to misquote Susan Jeffers’ brilliant book, feel the fear and walk on fire anyway.

I’ve always been overly cautious, and know I haven’t lived my live to the fullest up to now. I struggled with shyness up until my early thirties, and it was only becoming a teacher that helped me to overcome it.  Now, as I approach the beginning of my 40th year, maybe a literal fire walk will be a metaphorical one too, and I will begin a new life in which I am less afraid of the unknown and more willing to embrace new experiences and challenges in my life.

The walk is this coming Saturday, so there will be a follow up post in which I hope my feet aren’t sore, and I won’t be regretting my attempt at being more adventurous.