If it doesn't challenge you it won't change you
'If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you' is written in large writing above the whiteboard in my classroom. In my school we are constantly preaching that the pupils should be pushing themselves and trying new things that they find difficult. 'Grit' and 'Growth Mindsets' are some of the buzzwords of the moment. Apparently our teenagers are not achieving their potential because of poor attitudes to learning and a lack of being prepared to fail or challenge themselves. As adults how often can we say that we have done something difficult and that has really challenged us? Too easily we fall into a routine because everyday life is busy, tiring and often challenging in itself.
Last year I went to Sisterhood Camp hosted by Lou Archell (@littlegreenshed on Instagram) and held at @fforest in Cerdigion, Wales. It was a three night retreat for women that comprised of a variety of workshops. I had wanted to go for ages and decided to book myself a place. As I drove straight from work on the Thursday and did the 3 hour drive to Fforest my nerves were high, anxious about what it would be like and who I would meet. I did not know anyone and was so nervous about arriving at the camp and how I would meet the other women. After the initial awkwardness of arriving I had an unforgettable experience. The women were so warm and friendly and I met some really intelligent, interesting and strong women. I came away totally inspired but also confident in my own strengths and personality. The experience gave me more confidence and inspired me to try new things. It made me want to challenge myself more and be a stronger person because of it. It was this new taste for a challenge that made me ask some of my friends if they wanted to join me on my next adventure.
I saw the Snowdon Solstice Sunrise Walk advertised on Facebook and asked some friends who I thought would enjoy it if they would like to join me. I was very surprised when they all said yes. We quickly booked it up with our accommodation and there was no going back. None of us are particularly fit and none of us had ever done anything like this before. Whenever I told anyone what we were doing they couldn’t believe we had signed up to it. I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing it but I knew it would be good.
The walk up Snowdon started at 1am so that we could reach the summit for the sunrise. We had all been at work all day and driven three hours to get to Snowdonia. We didn't go to bed when we reached our Air B'n'B but talked excitedly and nervously about the walk ahead of us. I think I was more nervous about the fact that I was not going to go to bed than walking up the mountain. My all night clubbing nights are long behind me and all of my friends know that I enjoy my sleep. Talking to the other ladies and a cheeky G&T soon relaxed my nerves and we laughed about the possible scenarios that were ahead of us. We found it highly hilarious to put on our walking gear and lunge around the lounge (no photos of that luckily!).
When 1am arrived we met our guide on a pitch black car park and started our walk. The initial part was very steep and we steamed ahead. We actually started too fast and were told to slow down by our guide (not something we were expecting to be told!). The air was warm and by 1.30am we had all stripped off our layers and were walking up Snowdon in vest tops. We had regular stops up the mountain and shared lots of stories. We talked about our problems and caught up on our lives. The real test in the walk came after half way up. Our energy was running low but we supported each other, taking it in turns to hold back so no one felt uncomfortable. We reached the summit at around 4.15am to the most breathtaking views. We had all packed coffee, Bailey's and snacks (an essential Scotch egg for me!!) and found a comfortable spot to watch the sun rise. We were so lucky with the weather and the sky was so clear. We saw the sun burst through the clouds to bring the warmth and light. We sat on the top of Snowdon for an hour taking it all in and celebrating our success of climbing the mountain.
The descent from the summit felt slow and was a struggle with tiredness kicking in, using muscles that we didn't know we had. We told stories and giggled the whole way down. We got back to the accommodation and slept until lunchtime.
The following evening we sat in the local pub laughing, talking about our achievement and feeling so much closer for experiencing it together and proud of what we had accomplished. We were all excited for the adventure we could all go on together next year, recognising how important this experience had been to us all and how it had made us stronger.
Since we have returned home more of my friends have expressed an interest in joining us next year. People are so impressed with what we all did and we are all so proud to tell everyone about it. I’m so glad we challenged ourselves and definitely think we came back different women with a stronger sense of who we are and what we can achieve when we put our mind to it.
If you are interested in walking up Snowdon we used Adventurous Ewe.
Do you have any suggestions for our next adventure? Have you challenged yourself lately? I would love to hear from you and your suggestions. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about our adventure.
Thank you for reading, Rebecca xxxx