There are so many people in this world who take too much upon themselves, have trouble asking for help, and get stereotyped as control freaks. I’ll admit – I’m one of them. It’s not a control issue, it’s an ownership issue. I've felt (and sometimes feel) that I need to own all that I have, all that I am, and all that I’m doing. It’s not that I don’t trust people to step up to the plate, it’s that I feel it is my responsibility.
So when we embarked on the first RTC Adventure, I knew that this character trait would be called to the table. When you are pushed to your limits and must rely on others, how can you own everything? Ugh! I was afraid. Everything that I have learned to own – my weight, my personality, my strengths, my weaknesses (my strengths in disguise), my food quirks – they were now going to be visible to everyone and what was worse, they were going to impact those around me in a way I wasn’t 100% comfortable with.
This was not my first team building event and I knew that every basic trust activity begins with the series of trust falls. Ugh! My biggest crutch brought to everyone to deal with – my weight. I am by no means morbidly obese, but I’m not where I’d prefer to be. I just ate 2 cookies for breakfast and I love to cook (and eat); if I could hibernate for the winter, that would be cool with me. I’m okay with it (for now), because it is mine to own. Not anymore.
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It was no coincidence that the first round of trust activities was our third rotation together as a team. I already had a good foundation of trust, love, teamwork, and communication with these people, but was I ready to let them literally bear the weight of what is heaviest on me? I wasn’t going to not do the activity – they wouldn’t let me, they loved me too much to let me continue to feel that I had to own it all. But, how much of me was I willing to reveal? Do I tell them everything or can they already see it in my face, my body language?
The first two types of “falls” were easy, I just had to pivot on my feet and give in to tilting to them. First, Holly and I worked together. A petite framed woman was going to let me lean back into her. Holly’s heart was big enough to catch me. I was not scared for me, more for her. The second fall, I leaned into everyone and floated in a circle. I assessed who was where and knew that I could let my body take me where I was guided.
And then a trust walk, where Holly had to lead a blindfolded version of me with a silent version of her. I never worried for a second, until I got stuck. What in the world were they thinking sending me through this crack? How could I own what I am and trust Holly to guide me through this small space? I ultimately felt that if I gave up, I failed her. I sucked in my stomach – still stuck. I angled my body differently – still stuck. I didn’t want to let go of Holly’s hand, I would lose the only sense of calm I had. I could hear her breathing change, and mine instinctively followed. Deep breaths. Hold on. Let go. I finally said to Holly, “I need to go up. I can do this”. And she rubbed my arm and let me go. I used all the might I had to pull myself up and over the unknown space. I made it through. We walked around a bend and I started singing Johnny Cash, “I hear a train a comin’, it’s comin’ round a bend, and I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when”. Relief. Without being able to see her face, I knew that Holly and I were both smiling.
So when the time came to switch roles, I tried to give Holly the same love and calm that she gave to me. When we came to another small space that I was sure I wouldn’t make it through, I knew I could because of the investment she just took in me. All I had to own in that moment was keeping her safe and getting to our destination with everyone else. It was no longer about me, it was about us…all of us.
For our last activity, we did another trust fall…off a picnic table. As I stood with my heels at the edge of that table, I leaned back and fell. I no longer had to own everything. I gave myself up for an Initial Public Offering – I let them invest in me. All of me.
It is never easy to let people in and to let people help. I’ve done a much better job of it since we got back from the RTC Adventure. I’m sure I’ll suck at it in the near future; We are works in progress. But, if we let people truly invest in all of who we are, we can bring the best of ourselves to the world.