Some time ago on a course, I overheard a coach describe me as a ‘donkey’ to another coach. I never mentioned that I had overheard the coach in our debrief, instead I held onto that phrase in my mind. I was completely gutted and discouraged for some time. In Caoimhe fashion I beat myself up for a while. Weeks down the line, my good old stubbornness kicked in and decided I would improve and progress regardless of what others thought and keep pushing forwards.

On further reflection, while away sea kayaking in Scotland. I was crossing one of the bays on Skye, this memory came back to me. Possibly because the wind was in my face all day, my paddling was getting sloppier and slower as the day went on. At first I was annoyed, coaxing myself into sitting up straighter, reaching further and rotating more from my core – ‘I’ll show them’ I thought. But I was tired! So that boost of energy was short lived, and I went back to my thoughts. ‘I’m a bloody donkey, a useless donkey’. However, being the animal lover I am my personality fought back, because I actually love donkeys! Donkeys are amazing, cute, friendly, hardy and useful. In many countries they use donkeys for farming and carrying heavy loads. Many people also buy donkeys to keep their horses company. How could I be so narrow minded?

Donkey’s are awesome!!!

I reflected back to myself… Ok so I’m a donkey. Well, that’s actually not that bad! Donkeys are strong, steady, resilient and get the job done. Yes they may not be a racehorse but racehorses are not all trophies and champagne! They get injuries and have a lot more expense to their day to day lives, and usually their careers are short lived or end in tragedy.

What does this mean for me? Well, I’m NOT a pro paddler, I’m pretty average to say the least but I am determined and stubborn. This has pro’s and con’s and I realise my trip around Ireland is going to be super difficult, but I also know even if I make it half way around Ireland I will have gained and learnt so much more than if I had not tried at all. Its not going to be a fast success, but it will come with patience.

I suppose not comparing myself is something I have already begun to practice, when I’m out with friends or I see other people paddling, climbing, running, biking, the list goes on. I need to measure my own successes off myself: how I feel, my failures, the small steps, and massive leaps I will take over time., Trying not to judge my success off the racehorses of the world – embrace who I am. It isn’t easy keeping a growth mindset but hopefully it will get easier with practice.

The moral of the story, its ok to be a donkey – I’m cool with that!

1 Donkey + 1 Seal = Best friends!!!