Feeling overwhelmed? Take one step at a time
Have you ever just not been in the fettle (mood) to be inspired? Sometimes I read extraordinary exploits that have been carried out by people, and I switch off. I was reading Ross Edgeleys book the other day (he is an open water legend, being the first person to swim all the way around Britain), in which he describes how he swims the equivalent of the English Channel every single day for months on end, sleeping on a boat and dealing with an unbelievable number of painful injuries and bad weather. So far, so inspiring, even though I was starting to think that I was a bit silly to be getting so worked up about a mere singular Channel swim in comparison 😂
Then he revealed that he had written that very book, with its complex scientific and philosophical explanations, IN THE EVENINGS during that marathon swim expedition. I stopped reading right then. I thought to myself, “well, he is clearly super human, I cannot relate to this person whatsoever. Actually, I’m a bit depressed and overwhelmed here”.
And so it can be sometimes. Sometimes people look at the things I have achieved/overcome (which is no better than a lot of people I might add) and they say “oh, but you’re different to me, I could never do that”. This is true in some ways for some people, but really truly I started very slowly, very painfully and for a long time I didn’t see any improvement at all. I didn’t leap out of my hospital and up a mountain. I started off taking 1 hour 20 minutes to walk something which used to take me 15 minutes.
And so it is with training for the Channel swim. I injured my tricep in late summer 2019....and have done nothing about it until now. My left arm basically hasn’t been used since then and it is extremely weak, it is a very very slow progress building it up to the level of my right arm, and to be able to swim again. I constantly think back to what I was like at my first cycle session, when I felt sick after 10 minutes, and could barely stand up at all. If you had asked me then if I would have imagined cycling 100 miles in a day, I’d have laughed in your face. But I did just that, twice. I got to that level of fitness very slowly but I got there.
Same with the Channel swim. I know I have got it in me, I just need to take it step by step. At the moment swimming more than a few miles seems literally impossible, and that’s because at the moment it is. But, I know if I keep on going, day after day, little by little, making small goals and achieving them one by one, I will get there. When you have experienced a life shattering trauma, you learn that no amount of forward planning can stop surprises from happening, and sometimes there is no point looking too far ahead and wondering what will happen. This is how I am dealing with the pandemic. I take everything day by day, I don’t overwhelm/depress/stress myself with looking at the big picture, and all the unknowns that are ahead.
So, if you feel like you have a long long way to go on any particular journey you want to do, then just do it little by little. I am not superhuman. I am very normal, I get stressed and anxious just like everyone else, but I just have a strong belief that I can do things. As I believe we all can! I take much more inspiration from seemingly ordinary people swimming the Channel, who I can relate to, than superhuman people like Ross.