One of the most rewarding things I ever did was also something that I wasn't prepared for. My church use to do a thing called trek. Trek was designed to teach young people between the ages of 12 and 18 what it was like to be a pioneer. It involved a week on the plains of Wyoming, a couple small hikes, and a long 14 mile hike while pulling a handcart. In order to prepare, we were instructed to build our stamina and physical abilities. At 12 years old, I had better things to do than hike.
So, when it came time to leave for trek, I realized that I hadn't done anything to prepare my body for the physical trial ahead. 2-3 mile hikes weren't a challenge, but I was really unsure about my ability to do the 14 mile hike with no preparation. I was terrified that it would kill me. The 14 mile hike was the day before we left. We packed the handcart that morning, and I could feel butterflies in my stomach. They told us that there would be people following in cars, so if any of us get to the point we can't go on, we were supposed to let them know. It would be an easy way to get to camp, if we weren't physically able. At that point, I told myself that I wasn't going to back down. Even though I didn't have the physical preparation, I didn't want to be the one who had to be carried. I wanted to prove to my ancestors that I was just as strong as they were.
So, I started walking. And walking, and walking some more. It was dragging on and on. Then, I saw that we had barely passed the 5 mile mark. My legs were hurting, and I felt more exhausted than I ever had in my entire life. We came to a river, and the boys that had been pulling our handcart had to help others cross the river, so I had to take a turn on the handcart. At that point, I thought about calling it. However, a thought came into my mind : if I pull this handcart all the way, and I don't back down, I will prove to myself that I can get through anything just by my willpower. So, I happily grabbed the handcart and I pulled it.
About 12 hours into the walk, we stopped and had lunch. The other people in my group were talking about how exhausted they were, and that they might quit. In my mind, I was holding strong to the resolution that I had made earlier. When they brought up negativity, I would bring up a story to keep us all going. On the walk, I became everyone's cheerleader, singing and saying encouraging words. As the miles churned by, my feet and legs caught fire. My hands were raw from pulling the handcart, but my mind was strong. Someone in my group was picked up to be carried back to camp because of heat exhaustion. Even though I felt the heat, my resolve gave me the strength to ignore it. We reached camp right before dark, and I was ready to lay down and go to sleep.
Then, we received the news that the group behind us was struggling, and we needed to set up their tents. At first, I was resistant because I was sure I would get to rest as soon as I got back to camp. However, as I helped set up tents, something peculiar happened. I stopped feeling so dead, and I started feeling joy. I was feeling joy for the service I was doing and that the others wouldn't have to exert their tired bodies when they finally reached camp. I realized that I had survived one of the hardest ordeals I had ever gone through, and I had come out on top. Not just on top, but that I had learned a very important lesson.
The lesson was that my mind was a lot more powerful than my body. If I had prepared my body, I probably wouldn't have been as sore. However, my lack of preparation lead me to have to use my willpower to pull through. Reminding myself of this helped me later, when I gave birth unmedicated. I reminded myself that if I can get my mind on board, I can push through the physical limitations my body has and do things I wouldn't even imagine possible.