By definition, the unknown is defined as something that isn’t familiar. As we grow up, every activity, person, skill or experience was once an unknown to us. When we were younger, we had less concern about the unknown and what it entailed. Our curiosity levels were high as we tried to make sense of the world around us.
At some stage, there is a point in our lives where embracing the unknown no longer becomes a priority. Personally, I find it fascinating to take an introspective look as to why this is the case.
Growing up we become accustomed to certain familiarities, routines, similarities, luxuries and other nuances of life that make us feel good. Eventually, the unknown can start to blend in with the background noise of the busy world. We shut it off and go on doing the things that we have learned to process easily.
As time passes and the years go by, the unknown starts to grow in the shadows. For some, it becomes an untameable monster that knows no bounds. For others, the unknown still remains as a glistening road to new and sometimes otherworldly experiences. The majority of people find themselves somewhere in the middle, they need a little prod and poke to enter the unknown. If you’re reading this and resonate with anything I’ve said so far, join me as I tell you what the unknown means to me and why you should embrace it wholeheartedly.
Now that I have your full attention, let’s go a little deeper. Trust me, the unknown is truly worth running for.
The unknown is not just a location…
It’s a place in our mind,
a feeling in our gut,
an ache in the depth of our muscles.
It’s the inflection point of curiosity,
an ‘ah hah’ moment before you act,
and the answer to ‘What If?’
You can dive into the unknown in every area of your life but when I think of the unknown, one run in particular comes to mind. It was when I became the first person to run across the island of Bali. Before the race, I hadn’t even run as much as a half-marathon. I had completed a few races on the track, 3km and 5km, but mainly jogged recreationally. I was asked with 10 weeks notice if I would like to compete in a race across Bali. When I asked how far the race was, the man on the other end of the phone swiftly responded ‘84km’. I was shocked and taken back by the number. I mulled over the opportunity for a few days and came to the following conclusion.
If I took the opportunity, it was going to take me completely out of my comfort zone. Immediately, I had close friends and family telling me I shouldn't bother. They told me that I’d get injured, I wouldn’t finish or that I was too young. In every ultra-marathon race there is a reality that you may not finish, but I couldn’t let this overcome my fascination with the unknown.
It can be incredibly daunting to confront a challenge that has a high percentage of failure or to do something goes completely against your instinctive nature to feel comfortable but nothing beautiful grows in the comfort zone. Our comfort zones are the arch nemesis of the unknown and will tell us all kinds of tales. One thing to remember is that often we don’t need to take a leap of faith but instead a single step. One step into the unknown is all you need to get the ball rolling. As the momentum builds, you slowly begin to feel the power within that comes from your own self-improvement.
I decided to enter the race and my thoughts went along the lines of “I’d be crazy to run that far, but I’d also be crazy not to.” I was deeply intrigued about the mental side of the race, I knew it was going to require more than just a physical effort. I’ve never been one to do the mundane, this new experience which awaited was exactly what I needed. I was ready to take a single step onto the path of my own self-discovery.
I’ll never forget the words someone said to be before the race… They told me to "Be a tourist in your own mind."
What they meant was... I had done the work, I was capable and I was equipped to tackle the unknown.
Being able to step back and observe the unknown is a powerful moment, it allows you to truly experience places and feelings like never before. This feeling is liberating, it makes me feel most alive. The unknown is an endless well of possibility and is a place worth exploring. Remember that exploring the unknown doesn't have to be a grand pursuit or extraordinary change in circumstances to begin with. It can simply be trying a new restaurant, opening yourself to new friendships or going to a new run club. People are waiting behind closed doors and they are willing to open them for you. The unknown is only a scary place if you paint it that way. Move forward in a bold manner and know that being comfortable is no more ‘scary’ than the unknown. Those who stay still, turn stale.
Believe me when I say,
The unknown is worth running for.