The Importance of Showing Up
Last November I had the honour and pleasure of speaking at the amazing She Went Wild Expo as a guest on the Travel Play Live stage. Among other things I spoke about that day, there was one point I was determined to really send home to the audience, and that was the importance of ‘showing up’.
‘Showing up’ means many things to many people. For some it means attending a gym class when you really couldn’t be bothered because you know you will feel better after it; for others, it means being present and ‘all there’ in an interpersonal situation. And then there is ‘showing up’ in the trailblazer sense, which takes on a whole new meaning and can give a whole new element of motivation to do something that you find daunting or which scares you.
Never has it been more important for us to show up in our respective pursuits AND to be visible in doing them.
Why? Because many of us reading this are doing things that other women believe is beyond them, and we are doing them in spaces we have been taught are best not inhabited by women. You only have to flip the pages of this magazine to see that women are navigating and conquering rugged, challenging and technical landscapes on their own. They are undertaking mammoth life-altering journeys which see them lay bare their truest, most authentic selves. They are doing things that even as early as ten years ago were deemed ‘not for girls’ or ‘unsafe’ to undertake as a lone female. They are showing up. And in their showing up, they are showing us what is possible AND achievable.
Which is why we need to show up in our own respective pursuits and to keep showing up, because, in that simple act alone, WE are representing possibility to someone else.
I always say in my speeches that no matter what you are doing, someone is always watching. Someone is watching you break down your own personal barriers, or take on socially constructed barriers, or hell, even climbing over physical barriers in pursuit of our goals, no matter what they are. You are showing them that it is possible. You are clearing the path and giving that person permission to follow.
It is also why you also need to stay true to being fearless and unapologetic in these pursuits. Be the person who lays in the dirt laughing hysterically when you fall off your mountain bike because you miscalculate your stump-jumping skills. Be the person who exhales loudly in the boxing session, or who grunts with exertion when executing your chest-press. Be the only woman on the downhill course. Be the slowest person in your run group. Be the oldest person in your trek group. Be the person who lays themselves bare to the challenges of their undertaking and speaks wholeheartedly of the peaks and troughs that are often encountered with life-altering journeys and endurance undertakings.
Showing up sometimes isn’t easy. There are times we don’t want to do it, because putting yourself out there means placing yourself at the mercy of vulnerability. Putting yourself in a situation where you are the only one like yourself present and could potentially feel ostracised or unwelcome tests everything we have internalised about the importance of acceptance and our need to belong. But on moments like this, think of the person who needs to see YOU there. The person who is sitting on the sidelines, desperately wanting to have a go but never sees anyone like themselves there - until you show up, and by sheer presence and visibility alone become their possibility.
Showing up, owning our space and being visible is so important in so many areas of our lives, but none more so than physical pursuits. So many of us are engaged in physical activities that engage, inspire, and serve us mentally, physically and emotionally because we stopped buying the idea that physical activity was only undertaken to burn something off or as a means to punish ourselves. So the more of us showing up and being visible in non-traditional areas of feminine activity, the more sets of eyes are watching and awakening to the possibility that “well hang on if she can, then maybe I can too.”
In following our hearts and souls out to the trails, to the mountains, to the ocean, or to the extremities of our capabilities, we are paving a new road of movement. We represent what happens when we tune into our authentic selves and say ‘yes’ to the adventures we are yearning for. And when we show up in these spaces and be visible, and own our space within them, we are proving what we already know: us fabulous females can achieve anything.