Life After OB - Keeping the Momentum - Outward Bound

Life After OB - Keeping the Momentum

Inspirational, Life after OB

A personal account from OB alumna Helen Payn, Cook 645.

Before Outward Bound I wanted to change. I lacked direction and was in a stressful place. During Outward Bound, I flourished and discovered the ways I wanted to grow. The challenging outdoor moments, when my lungs were full of fresh air and soul was brimming with life, seeded the growth areas I pursued after Outward Bound. To see my journey of growth, let me take you through the epiphanies and their fruitions.

Whilst on Outward Bound, we took a personality test where we had to choose one word out of four that described us best. There was one line I got stuck on. Adventurous, Ambitious, Analytical and Accepting.

For some time, I sat on this line. Tossing between analytical and ambitious. I knew I was those two things, which was I most? The thing I got stuck on though, was not which one described me best, but which one I most wanted to be. I wanted to be adventurous. I wanted that word to be used when people described me; when I described myself. Adventurous. Yeah, I wanted to be that. So that's who I set out to be.

Another life changer moment I had was on solo. Pitch black, some unknown time on the last night. I woke, hungry. I knew this hunger too well. Knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep without food. Knew I had to sacrifice some of tomorrow's rations to get through the night. So I did. Trying to worm out of my sleeping, zipped tight because of the icy wind, struggling to do such a simple task because I had become so physically weak, I had two epiphanies;

First, I would never ever voluntarily make myself hungry like this again. Nothing can justify it.

The second, that I do sport for validation. And that I no longer need that validation.

I am enough.

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Helen Web

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Life after Outward Bound was rough. I had to go to work when I wanted to be gallivanting with no obligations, but I also wanted to make my life, that set of circumstances, serve me. My adventure self seeded at OB had to compete with a life that served my ambitious and analytical sides. The selves were rivals and they came to a full clash on the third Monday back: I had a panic attack at work and was starkly confronted by reality. Confronted by the imbalanced life I was living pre-OB and could easily slip back into.

Something had to change; it was time to pick up the shovel and sow the seed that OB gave me. It was hard to pick up the shovel though, to decide, commit and pursue hard growth. Thankfully I had Paula Popenhagen for help through life coaching sessions. With her, I seized the shovel and made space for adventure me, happy me to grow.

What have I done for growth? Initiated an adventure club. It's like a tramping club, but better - spontaneous, fluid and full of exciting uncertainty. The adventures let me be the person I’ve always wanted to be - jumping off a high bridge into freezing cold water at every chance, addicted to the thrill and warming afterglow, all the while encouraging (sometimes pushing) others to follow.

There's a sensation I feel in these ecstatic moments. Inside me, my heart sings with joyous laughter. Free, full of glee. These moments keep the flame that Outward Bound lit, alive. I'm so happy to have created a space that stocks the fire, for not just me, but everyone who comes along for the ride. “Adventurous” definitely describes me.

I recently took a big scary jump, one that wasn’t into water but still had the same rush as jumping off a bridge. After attempting to commit to high-performance sport this year, I’ve decided to step back from it. I wanted to commit to it as a form of service, a way of giving back to others in that space, but my heart is elsewhere, in the bush, climbing mountains. In order to grow, I had to say no.

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It's been quite an experience, gaining immense insight into myself. Constantly learning, getting feedback from all the bumps in the road and curveballs I've been thrown. I actually threw a few of those curve balls to myself to keep me on my toes.

From it all, I'm beginning to realise that we never reach a point of finality. We learn, we change, we adapt. We live. We're on a journey with mini destinations and big destinations that are ever changing. I've set out to be more water-like, go-with-the-flow type; giving more energy to journeying has been crucial in becoming that. I used to be a high soaring eagle focused on the kill. Now, what am I? A bit of everything. Balanced. Always seeking balance, because what it takes to be balanced changes every day.


Helen Payn, Cook 645