On Friday 4th November, I grabbed a Hi-Vis vest, a map and a can of San Miguel and hiked 13 miles through the Peak District national park in the dark.
This was all in the name of charity, raising money for Sheffield RAG (Raising and Giving) who will distribute the money to various charities, including Rotherham Hospice. And it taught me a few things.
“2016 has been quite the shitstorm, so being reminded that there is goodness in the world is very refreshing.”
Most importantly, it taught me that even though I have made it to the third year of my degree, I apparently forgot how reflection works. (See below).
Whilst stumbling over rocks, puffing my way up sharp inclines and swinging myself over stiles, I realised I was really enjoying myself.
Regardless, I won’t deny that I’ve never owned a gym membership and I say “I should go for a run” more often than actually going for a run. Also, I know a fair few nature-evaders who shudder at the prospect of being in the great outdoors when they could be cosy and warm at home.
Yet despite my laziness, I felt quite happy in the open air. The kind of happy that puts a big grin on your face and paints the world in a rose-tinted glow. Admittedly, part of this may have been due to the couple of cans of beer and good company, but largely I had an Epiphany type moment of realising that fresh air and the general greenery of the countryside is very uplifting, and made the indoors seem stifling in comparison.
Secondly, I learnt that a girl called Nina, is over here on an exchange programme, thinks I am a very confident person. Which just convinced me, my fragile self-esteem and constant anxiety about what people think of me, that the “Fake it Till you Make it” rhetoric works.
“I had an Epiphany type moment of realising that fresh air and the general greenery of the countryside is very uplifting.”
Whilst at the pub for our halfway meal and firework display, which was essentially a prize for making it that far without passing out or turning back, I learnt that World Records broken in 2003 are still pretty bizarre and impressive to this day.
More importantly though, I had some time to think about this whole charity thing. I’ve put on couple of bake sales in high school , ran in Race for Life, volunteered at a after school club for disabled children and worked as a Street Fundraiser for Shelter- but this was the first time I officially had to raise money, complete with a Virgin Giving Page and everything.
I was surprised by how quickly I surpassed the £30 target, and even more so by how generous people were when they thought they could give to a good cause.
2016 has been quite the shitstorm, so being reminded that there is goodness in the world is very refreshing.
It also made me think about the reasons we give to charity. For me, I want to help people, and it makes me feel good to do so, (how much of that is due to ego stroking rather than altruism is a entirely different conversation), and I’m sure this is the same for most others.
And yet, universities are filled with competitive students who are all desperate to earn actual money when they graduate. So the cynical side of me wonders how often we delve into charity purely to add another section to our CV, which is quite a sad reflection of how interesting and different we have to make ourselves in order to achieve. Still, the reasons for being charitable means nothing if the charities are still getting money donated to them, right? So maybe we should stop pinning this altruistic requirement on doing good things, and just encourage them.
And finally. This walk taught me that 13 miles isn’t actually that far, but if you partake in any form of physical activity afterwards, you will be hobbling around with severe muscle pain for an embarrassing amount of time.