Today, I learned what triumph felt like. I overcame my biggest obstacle: me.

That sounds a little formal, I know. Maybe even a little bit clinical. But, I have this nasty habit of “returning to the scene of a crime”. By that I mean, I go back to an incident or event in my mind, often assuming it’ll happen again. I get in my own way, more often than not.

If ever I’ve experienced something I was even a little afraid of, I’d worry it would happen again in those same circumstances. Rarely are events that habitual – yet that was a piece of logic I have struggled to accept. I return to the scene of the crime over and over again because I run from the cops. Naturally, I don’t stick around to see what happens, even if I’m innocent. I don’t think things will be OK, so inevitably I avoid what I think will happen because of this one time.

When I was 6 or 7, I rode a small pony. She may have been small, but when she took off galloping around the ring it felt like she was Sea Biscuit. after that, I was very convinced (occasionally I still am) that every horse has a “go” button. That every horse is going to run away and never ever stop.

The first time I fell off a horse, I was at summer camp on a trail ride in the woods. This little tiny pony (again) dropped his shoulder so fast, I gently fell to the ground. I say gently, because we were already stopped. Out of all my falls, this was probably the least dangerous yet the most traumatic. You better believe it took me a while before I would happily go on a trail ride in the woods. It’s not like I would have fallen again, in the same place. It wasn’t the same, but I convinced myself that the circumstances were similar.

Trusting a horse can be difficult. They’re big animals, I know. But if trusting yourself is a whole other beast.

I’ve never been too sure of myself. I revisit the scene of a crime, often. I allow it to make me afraid, I let myself wonder if it’ll just happen again. I’ve had this mindset for as long as I can remember, and it’s only gotten in my way. A recent conversation with an insightful friend helped me see this: at one point, maybe my nerves were a useful coping skill. I didn’t ride dangerous horses or get myself into situations where something bad could happen. But now? I allow myself to get in my own way, and that’s not a coping skill. That’s an obstacle.

What I’ve learned is that just because I scare easy, doesn’t mean I’m any less of a rider. My obstacles are just different shapes and sizes. They are me, myself, and I. But today, I realized I’ve been coming out on top lately. I’ve been working hard on trusting myself and my instincts, instead of listening to the nervous chatter I often tell myself. It hit me as I dismounted Sammie, didn’t even contemplate that maybe I hadn’t ridden well or hard enough. I didn’t worry he would overreact to the deer in the woods (hey, sometimes deer are monsters I’m more afraid of than the horse). I trusted myself, and I didn’t let myself fall down a rabbit hole of “what if”.

If this is what coming out on top feels like, I’ll take more of it please.