It was the middle of the week, when someone brought us in silence and only with 3 flares deep inside the Bulgarian forest. Every few hundred meters they left one person of the group behind, by themselves.
The only information I had was, that they would pick me up at the same place where they had left me in a few hours. One other thing was, that we were responsible for ourselves realizing that there might be bears, wolves and boars in the woods. It was our own decision if we would take the risk of doing the exercise.
September 2015, I went on a coaching travel in Bulgaria with a group of young people. We did all sorts of activities and got coaching on finding our life goals, realizing our blind spots and they offered us to leave our comfort zone.
So sitting there by myself, surrounded by complete darkness, I became anxious quickly. I soon realized I wasn’t dressed properly for the cold and I had nothing on me. No phone, no light,… So I started crying very quietly. I wasn’t the only one crying in the woods, the wolves where howling as well. After only 10 minutes (I guess) a wild dog ran to me. He just stood there, looking in my eyes… a few meters from me. I felt making myself smaller and looking back into the dark eyes of the animal. Than he suddenly ran off. I continued to sit on a wet branch under a tree. The only thing I could do was crying and visualizing all my fears come alive in my mind. Fear of the dark, of unknown sounds, animals, being alone, death, being left behind and so on. The only thing calming me down a little, was watching the clear dark sky full of bright stars.
A little more than 3 hours later I saw a flashlight in the woods, looking for my scared face and huddled body. Still in silence they brought us back to the cottage, where a campfire was waiting for us. Watching the flames dance in the branches through my watery eyes, transformation happened deep inside me. In that moment, at that spot, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. “Nothing bad happened to me, my fear was not necessary. I never want to feel this amount of fear anymore in my life.”
This experience was one of my most scary nights in my life. But the actual frightening part of it, was that nothing actually bad happened to me. So, what was I really afraid of? Something that might happen, but didn’t? I went to all these negative emotions, for nothing in the present. It felt so unnecessary.
The day after I came home, I booked a flight to Spain to hike a 150 kilometres in the woods of by myself. Every day before sunrise, I challenged myself with something new, to face with another fear. I learned how to trust in myself and my own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength.
They say magic happens outside the comfort zone. It’s true, I now live in a magical world by Will Smiths words: ‘The danger might be real, but the fear is always optional.’