Updated: Apr 28
It's an interesting word. To so many it simply equates to weakness; weakness that leads to an inability to do something, anything, the thing thats making you fearful.
Change the phrase to 'Facing Fears' and the equation changes. It defines courage, ambition, passion and determination.
So how do we go from one to the other?
Last Friday I woke up feeling like I could take over the world. Why? Because it was the morning after the She Flies: Facing Fears in Extreme Sports event in Bristol, UK and I was riddled with inspiration. I think most people who came would say the same. The night was a sell out - within just a few days of advertising we had 2 tickets left, that I had to frantically save for the friends I'd promised a space to.
She Flies is new to the UK so I was surprised at the attention if I'm honest, so many people wanted to come. It dawned on me, it was that word: Fear.
It drives emotion in people - it is subjective, personal, weakness, strength, ambition. And there is a genuine interest in an understanding of how others see it.
It was easy to know how to introduce the event. When I started teaching Kiteboarding, I recognised peoples approach. I either teach those with full-power-determination; ignorance is bliss when it comes to safety and they just want to try fail and try again - they may hurt themselves during this, but the determination takes over.
Then there is this other version.
They approach with a little apprehension; questioning the safety, asking questions and more alert than ever. They want to hear the instructions again - and again - and maybe just double check they've heard it right.
The two examples are starkly different and I even have to tweak my teaching to deal with them. Whats interesting, however, is that they are both experiencing fear.
One is facing it.
One is feeling it.
Fear is inevitable in extreme sports, it's why we call them 'extreme'. We don't want to get rid of it, that would be boring, right? It would negate the adrenaline you feel when you succeed. What we want to do, is learn to face it.
What's funny is that the event last week was 'by She Flies' but there was no other word in the poster, in the advert, in the flyer that mentioned the words she / women / female / girl - yet I think 80% attendance was female.
Sometimes I think women find it a little harder to face their fears, or maybe thats not right, maybe we just find it a bit easier to let them in - and yes, there is a difference.
That feminine approach to extreme sports should never be changed however. We are analytical, observant and we plan every move we're about to make before we make it. It's because of this approach that when we ride, and we succeed, we are beautiful, we have finesse, style, elegant strength. It's beautiful to watch and something that wouldn't be achieved with a different approach.
She Flies came from recognising all of this. That admiration and inspiration of watching the professionals above us and that recognition and support of witnessing the ones below us. We fly if we are given the environment and the support to face our fears - easily. Join us.
If you came last week, I hope you feel as inspired as I do now. A huge thank you to our inspirational speakers:
Kat, from Girls Who Dare, who is rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii - in an attempt to beat the world record (oh - and in an all female crew boat!).
Bron from Undercurrents, a beautiful UK Surf Documentary that explores the necessary process of overcoming fear in surfing.
And a great thanks to our great hosts, Spoke & Stringer, Bristol with our delicious welcome drink provider, Remedy Drinks - and the brilliant Lucas Martinez for the superb edit that followed as shown in the edit above.