Written by Margaret Marten ’18
This blog post is written in response to Marten’s fall 2017 3-week trip to Zambia with Professors Amber Chenoweth and Emily McClung.
For most of my life, I’ve always been kind of scared to take risks. Anything that could jeopardize my ability to succeed at things, I was out. I have never really been faced with any severe adversity, so I was unsure I would be able to have the resilience or moxie to bounce back if I took a risk and failed. But as I’ve continued throughout the nursing program, from the first class I didn’t pass in sophomore year to the first time I drew blood on a patient and I blew the vein, I’ve become more and more comfortable with being uncomfortable which is what one of my professors always said. As I stare down the final semester of the nursing program, I have learned that I can be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I can be comfortable with facing failure and I can rely on my resilience to pull myself back up from falling. But I think before going on this trip, I never was able to really truly see the power of my own resilience.
The big moment on this trip where I truly felt powerful in my own skin was the day I got to experience Victoria Falls. The experience of seeing Victoria falls was a lot more empowering than I thought it would be. Yes, the falls were absolutely breathtaking. But seeing that raw power of the water rushing over the falls really did something to me that day. At first, we were just going to do a little walk around the Zambian side of the falls, then walk over to the Zimbabwe side to eat lunch and look around. Maybe a few miles tops. And up until we started walking over to Zimbabwe, I felt really great. But that walk across the bridge connecting the two countries felt like a death march. It was incredibly hot at high noon and we were late for our lunch reservation, so we were booking it. From Zambia, to Zimbabwe, back to Zambia again, we had hiked 8 miles. And when we finally reached back to the beginning of our trek, many of the other people in the group wanted to do the Boiling Pot trail hike – a pretty steep (I mean, REALLY steep!) hike straight down the side of a gorge to see a beautiful view of the river and Victoria Falls Bridge and back up again. That hike back up that gorge was probably the most grueling thing I’ve ever done, but the way it made me feel was indescribable.
There were so many times during that day I wanted to just give up and shut down. I’m obese, out of shape, and I felt like I just couldn’t physically do all of this. But I really never let myself think that way for too long. There’s a motivational speech I have on my iPad that I love to listen to. The gist of it is getting over your fears, continuing to persevere, and never let yourself say “what if?”. While walking back up from the Boiling Pot, all I could think about was that guy saying, “I failed is 10x more of a man than the guy who said ‘what if?’”. I was going to finish that hike (mostly because there wasn’t much of an alternative, but still) despite being out of shape. I was going glacially slow, but at least I was going. Thinking back on it now, it kind of makes me emotional. There are so many things in my life that I feel hold me back. My ADHD, my sensitivity, my weight, but from the second I reached the top of that hill, I would have no excuse to let them hold me back from achieving anything I want to do. On the outside, I really don’t look like much, but there was something about those falls, that hike, the people around me, that made me realize how strong I could be.