Today I’m going to let you into a little secret.
Firstly, I love Bali. Secondly, I’m a worrier. And I’m always looking for tips to help me stop worrying.
You might see suposedly super-confident me doing 70kms on my bicycle on Instagram, or jetting off to Bali without a care in the world in my Facebook posts. You might see me modelling clothes and looking like it’s no big deal on the blog.
Maybe you’ll recognise bits of you in this secret too, because underneath the superficial confident me is the anxious me, the lily livered alter ego which resides so very close to the surface and sometimes almost prevents me from ‘Living the Life’ which one of my friends is assured that I do.
There is something about getting older which insidiously strips you of confidence. Slowly but surely.
For me it manifests as worry.
You know, you’re not quite so sure about that adventure holiday or retirement adventure you always thought you wanted to pursue because well, what if?
You’re not quite so certain of your step – remember that time you faltered going down those steps when your balance felt a little funny.
You’re not sure if you can get on a bike, ride a horse, go white water rafting – do the adventurous stuff anymore because, well you’re getting on a bit.
And you’re not quite so sure of your opinions anymore in the presence of younger people because, my oh my how things have changed and how differently the Gen X, Gen Y and millenials think about things.
I’ve noticed some of these confidence tricksters vieying for centre stage in the last few years, and I’ve had to bat them down with a strong stick, saying: “No No No, you’re not coming for me.”
A walk in Bali
A sunny morning in Bali was a point in case, and I don’t feel proud about it.
Dave and I had set off for a walk along a lonely strip of path beyond our villa near Ubud towards and through the rice paddies heading for town.
Hotel staff had been unclear about the way to Ubud, in fact I wonder if any of them had ever walked this way, as guests are encouraged to take the golf buggy which then takes you to the shuttle bus that regularly chugs along the main road into town.
“You go to the end of the concrete path and then turn left. You go left and right and zigzag through the rice paddies. It’s a bit complicated,” they said. Then they got all vague, and quickly changed the subject.
So we didn’t know the way. The way was unclear, and now you see this is probably running along the lines of a Biblical parable, but anyway Dave was confident we’d get there.
It was searingly hot as we walked along the thin strips of path following the irrigation channels through the rice paddies. Farmers in conical hats wielding scythes and pushing ploughs were busy at work tilling the land and exuding a lot more fortitude than me.
“Do you know where we’re going, do you have any idea at all?” I kept asking Dave.
Dave honestly replied “No,” and the sun directly overhead wasn’t giving us any geographical clues, but he had an inkling we would get to Ubud anyway.
“When, do you think?”
“I don’t know. Maybe an hour. Who knows?”
Then the worry monster got busy in my head. No, he didn’t get busy. By now he’d drunk a bottle of vodka and was turning somersaults in my mind.
“Okay I’m turning back.”
And I did. The fear of the unknown had turned into a vice grip around my gut and I seriously had no intention of carrying on.
Yes, the worry monster had already told me our water would run out, then I’d get sunstroke, that the heat was too much and I’d keel over in rice paddy and die – and worse hell, my phone was without international roaming so we couldn’t call anyone.
Dave, the brave, carried on regardless.
As I teetered back along the pathway, not so footsure as I once was, I passed a naked man having a wash in the irrigation channel. I think he was as surprised to see a tourist on this stretch of farmland as I was to chance upon a nude farmer.
I’m not going to show you a picture of a nude farmer, but this was kind of the scene.
I stopped to take a photo of a bucollic scene of ducks in the rice paddies, turned around and unwittingly almost snapped a shot of an old man having a pee.
Another man passed me carrying a huge moon shaped scythe and we wriggled close to pass each other to prevent falling into the rice paddies.
I kind of wished now that I’d walked on into the unknown with Dave instead.
Suddenly my heart was in my mouth and I was super fearful.
Distant memories of Bali surfaced.
In 1983 when we were stopped by bandits in the mountains and relieved of cash, and then almost deposited in the middle of a lake for not paying an ‘additional’ fee to get us back to the shore. These long ago incidents were suddenly and very firmly at the forefront of my pathetic lily-livered mind.
Perhaps it’s this long bank of memories which sometimes makes me panic these days? Perhaps it’s just that I pay too much attention to the memories.
I was certainly more gung-ho in my youth. I didn’t think of danger. We feel invincible when we’re young don’t we?
Maybe I’ve been over sensitised by our international moves to developing countries, always wondering how best to keep my offspring safe at all costs? Always looking for the danger in a situation and ways to avoid it?
But now it’s only me. What am I afraid of?
Myself. Sometimes I’m just afraid of myself. And it’s time to get over myself.
“Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible,” Aristotle
Here’s what I intend to do to maintain confidence and stop worrying as I age.
- Tell the worry monster to just shut up.
- Tell myself that I’m stronger than I think and that I’m capable of handling adverse situations.
- Tell myself that worrying is much worse and far more energy sapping than dealing with a challenge if it arises.
- Understand what I’m afraid of and then seek means to address the situation – Set out for adventure but make sure that I’m adequately prepared. This might include knowing What to Pack for Bali and Packing Wisely for tropical holidays.
- On long walks in foreign countries make sure I have: Handy phone numbers, adequate water, money, suntan lotion, mosquito repellent, plasters, that sort of thing.
- Get into a routine of exercise which includes balancing exercises, weight bearing and cardio so that I continue to feel strong and balanced as I get older.
- Look after myself better – eat well, and drink more water.
Are you more of a worry bug as you get older, or are you as gung-ho as you’ve ever been?