If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll probably already know that I’m not much of a risk taker. I’m actually a big scaredy cat. I don’t like ruffling feathers. I hate confrontation. I follow the rules.
It won’t come as any surprise to know I’m not the type of person who’d normally go out on a limb and take a chance. Yes, that means I’m vanilla and bland but I’m very content that way, thank you very much!
However, this year has seen me push outside my comfort zone, in all sorts of ways, challenging my very nature and threatening my safe and content little life.
At the beginning of August I had to travel at very short notice to a destination I had never been before. I had to make decisions quickly (not my forte), come to terms with the fact I’d be travelling alone in a foreign country and become an assertive advocate (again, not my natural strength).
Not to mention, leave my very organised and scheduled life for others to run…
Normally a trip like this would be undertaken with months of research under my belt, together with lots of mental planning and preparation. My inner control freak wouldn’t have it any other way. But, when you have to leave immediately, you don’t have the luxury of time for mental preparation. You have to take the leap and just do it.
Although I was challenged in so many ways during that trip to Bali, I managed to travel there safely and get around without incident. I successfully liaised with the hospital and the travel insurer. I even found gluten free options without weeks of research (although I did end up becoming a little sick of chicken and rice by the end!)
I took the leap and I survived. My family survived too.
It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences (the understatement of my life!) but it showed me that we all need to take a leap and challenge ourselves from time to time. I was confronted in every possible way during that trip but I did it. I achieved something I didn’t think I could do and I’m proud of that.
I’m taking this as an omen as I embark on a few more leaps this week. Hopefully they will also turn out positively, as I’m really putting myself out there for the very first time. And I’m terrified.
Leap 1 – APAC
On Thursday and Friday, I will be speaking at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference. I’ve spoken at events before but this will be bigger than anything I’ve done to date. I’m confident in what I’ll be sharing and I’m comfortable in public speaking (I’m a Leo after all!) but this is unchartered territory for me.
Speaking at a session last year
At the start of the year, when I submitted my abstract ideas for consideration by the APAC committee, I did it with no expectations. I knew that speaking at APAC would be a good idea for all sorts of reasons, but it was all nebulous as I didn’t expect my submissions to be accepted.
A few months later, when the invitation came to present two out of my three ideas, I was overwhelmed with the needs of my kids. I didn’t have the opportunity to really appreciate what this chance really meant for me. But now, a few days away from the first of my presentations, I realise just how big of a deal this is.
I’ve been plugging away here for nearly seven years now, sharing my experiences, my kids’ lives and our progression as special needs parents. I’ve never been a big blogger or all that well known but I’ve earned respect from others in my niche and have loved connecting with fellow parents in real life and online.
Having the chance to address other parents, providers, teachers and specialists at APAC is the next step up. I have the opportunity to speak to my target audience, amplify my reach and, hopefully, make a difference. I feel the burden of responsibility (I don’t want to stuff this up or lead anyone astray) but I’m also invigorated by the prospect of again taking the leap and pushing through my comfort zone.
I just hope I can control my nerves and avoid getting sick between now and then!
Leap 2 – Autism Family Travel
My other big leap this week, is pressing publish on my long-promised book, Autism Family Travel. It’s full of practical hints and tips for planning travel with autism in the mix. It’s based on our own experience, travelling both near and far, and I hope it can inspire other families to take the leap and travel too.
You can grab an ebook version from Amazon right now – a paperback version is also in the works and should be available for purchase in a couple of weeks. I’d appreciate reviews and feedback too 🙂
Writing, editing and creating this book has been a labour of love for over two years. I started it after we returned home from our US adventure in May 2015 and have been working on it, on and off, ever since.
APAC was my deadline for getting it out there and I confess I would never have finished it otherwise. I’ve been paralysed by perfectionism, indecision and a lack of confidence when it comes to this book. I’m comfortable in blogging in my small little blogging world but writing a book was a whole new challenge, both in writing it and in mentally getting myself ready to publish it.
I’ve had to accept it’s not perfect – I’m sure there’ll be a typo or some other error found in it somewhere. I’m only human after all (even if I tend to silently judge others for their grammatical errors!)
I’ve had to accept that not everyone will like it or appreciate it. You’d think after nearly 7 years of blogging I’d be at peace with that concept already, but no. I’ve been blessed by being small and insignificant. I haven’t had to deal with trolls or much online criticism thus far. So, putting myself out there, to a potentially wider audience, is scary for me.
I’ve had to accept that it won’t be relevant to all autism families and that others in the autism community may not support it. Travel is not going to be something everyone will want to do and I know the book is not going to be the right fit for every family. It’s the right fit for us and I hope it can help others, but it won’t be perfect for everyone and that’s okay.
Can you tell just how personally challenged I am by all this? I’ve never been more stressed, filled with trepidation or nervous in my life. Putting myself out there is undoubtedly, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
On the flipside, however, I’ve never felt more alive. It’s definitely more comfortable staying safe but I hope to find a new level of comfort soon – I just have to survive the leap first!
Are you a risk taker or a scaredy cat? Care to share a time when you took a leap?