So the first two items on my 30 before 30 list (see the list here) are quite big ones and go against my rule of not being far flung places to travel to! And I must admit they were already planned when I wrote the list! No harm in putting things on your list that you’ve already got planned.
In October 2014 I spent five days trekking the Great Wall of China to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. This was one of the most hardest things I’ve ever done. The trek was gruelling with lots of ups and downs and steps which left me with sore knees. No blisters thanks to well worn in walking boots and my training partner, Milly!
I also set myself the target of raising £2000 for the British Heart Foundation. Both of my grandmothers died from heart attacks so I was ding this trek in their memory. I dressed entirely in red, I packed bags in our local supermarket (with some help from friends and family), I had a fundraising stall at a village fair to guess the name of a cuddly toy Panda (his name was Paul), ran a box decorating activity to create a Wall of Gressenhall at my local museum and place of work, appeared on the front cover of my local newspaper and generally nagged all my friends and family! I absolutely smashed my target and raised £2781.09 which all went straight to the British Heart Foundation as I paid all costs of the trek myself.
Now you might be thinking ‘Wow, this girl has to be super confident to do all this and her time in China must have been a breeze’. Well, no it wasn’t. I did have something to prove with this trip. Walking the Great Wall of China is something I’ve wanted to do for years, probably 10 years. Someone who was close to me (note the was he’s not close to anymore) told me I would never do it. I cried a lot. I cried in Heathrow departures, I cried on the plane. I cried nearly all of the first night and on the first day of the trek. I couldn’t believe I was really there. I’m normally plagued with self doubt around people and this trip was no exception. They were all lovely but I was convinced that they didn’t like me that I wasn’t good enough. I had extended my trip to travel round China on my own. I was going to see the Terracotta Army and Shanghai. I didn’t get there. I was so scared about being on my own. Then I was ill. Don’t know if it was a bug or just the major anxiety affecting my body. Either way I didn’t get on my train. I spent two days in the airport until I could get on a flight home. To not take the opportunity to travel and see the sights of China really didn’t help me to not feel like a failure.
So what am I saying? That it wasn’t easy. That I wasn’t quite brave enough. But I was brave. And I am so proud of what I achieved. I had two goals and I smashed both of them. The sense of achievement, pride and happiness at the finish line made all the tears, anxiety and self doubt worth it. And it will be an experience that I will be proud of for the rest of my life.