Raising adventurous and brave children | Anna Frost | TEDxExeter

Translator: Monica Ronchi
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. I am going to share with you all
my story of Sisu and not being perfect. It felt impossible. I was at mile 75 of a 100-mile race. I’d been running for 19 hours. It was midnight. I was knee-deep in snow,
and I was almost hypothermic. I’d really needed to eat and drink,
but I kept throwing everything up. Darcy, the defending champ,
had just flown by me. I was in the worse place
I’ve ever been in a race before. My crew, who had more food,
more drink, and more warm clothes were another five hours of running away and then, the finish was
another five hours from there, running away. I needed to sleep more
than I’ve ever needed to sleep before but stopping there,
in the snow-capped mountains would have meant death or close to it. I moved slowly, step by step,
through the snow and I could feel every single step
like a dagger in my thighs. My pacer, a safety runner, gave me
all his love, patience, and forward energy and eventually after a really long, slow,
and extremely painful downhill, we got into the aid station. I lay in the frozen grass. All I wanted was a three-minute sleep. But my crew had their warm hands
all over me rubbing my legs awake, rubbing my back and shoulders, and handing me warm soup
and coke to drink. After ten minutes, I realized
I wasn’t going to get any sleep, so took my peanut butter and jam sandwich,
stood up, and walked slowly out of there, looking back at their faces,
of emotion filled with willing and pain, as I went back
into the cold mountains again. I was in total oblivion –
just marching to my breath. Then something changed. It was still really dark,
and freezing cold. But now I could hear
the chirp of the birds, and the rustle of the little chipmunks
all around me. I stopped for a bite of my sandwich and threw a few crusts
to the little animals, who were living so freely and happily in a place that was just
so dark for me at that time. And then, up ahead,
we could see Darcy’s light shining really brightly
on the cliffs ahead. The impossible was about to happen. I drew on everything: all the strength, resilience,
and determination I had, looked the mountains in the face, pushed through the deep physical pain
and mental fatigue, and went. It was now or never,
my pacer and I agreed. This had been my dream for three years,
and I wasn’t ready to let that go. The moment when the sun
touched my skin, warming me, I now understood the words
of love and encouragement that my other pacer had told me
in the aid station before. The Sun would be up soon. My body came alive. I went somewhere I had just
never been before. Mentally and physically, we charged. I ate all the caffeine gels
that I had in my bag, and we went. We didn’t stop, we didn’t talk, we just charged silently
and respectfully past Darcy, and into the next aid station where my crew
weren’t expecting me just yet. There was a major commotion
as I tore off through the final 15 miles. I had just a fiery focus on the trails
and, of course, on the markers ahead. I wasn’t going to get lost at that point. We didn’t stop, we didn’t talk,
we just charged, and my breath was all I had
to breathe out that pain in my legs with every step. My pacer was amazing. He had soothing words,
ignored my grunts of agony, ignored the crazy words of hallucination,
and just kept me going. It was then 2.3 miles to go. We were now 30 minutes ahead of Darcy, but I wasn’t giving up. I didn’t want her to catch us,
so we kept charging until we got there. And as we approached the finish,
I had tears in my eyes. Not only had I just finished the race, but I was about to win Hardrock 100, one of the hardest 100-mile races
in the world, One where you climb the equivalent height
of Mount Everest twice. My parents were there
to share the moment with me. My crew who had believed in me, understood and knew what I was capable of. and so pushed me a little touch more. They knew it was possible. It was one of the moments
when I felt most empowered as a woman, growing and glowing with Sisu. Sisu is a Finnish word and way of life. It is “the extraordinary courage
and determination in the face of adversity.” Sisu has encompassed
everything in my life. It is the people, the journey,
the experiences, it’s a frame of mind. It’s a strength and determination
that nothing is impossible, and it’s the heart of what I draw on
in moments like Hardrock. My life has been
a journey of stubbornness. It often got me in trouble,
at school especially. But more times than not,
through pure determination, and I think, most importantly,
with no fear of falling, I’ve forced my way through closed doors,
and found what I’ve been searching for: the love and joy of being
an empowered woman with a whole world full of opportunities. I was continually learning about Sisu. I want there to be
more Sisu girls in our world. Girls proud to be girls. Girls who are confident and not dependent on being attractive to,
or approved of, by anyone else. Girls who go on to get more
out of the world. I want a world of girls who stand up
for what they believe in. Girls who are brave enough
to sit outside of their comfort zone. I want all of us
to raise our girls with fierce Sisu. Do you all encourage your children
to spread their wings, fly, and then fall flat on their face? We need to show our children resilience. We need to show our children
that falling is not failing, but it is about how we get up
from that fall, learn from it, change it, move on, and see that perfection
is not how life is. Running is about the most honest
I have to be with myself. It is a simple and empowering activity. All we need is our shoes,
determination, and breath. It still surprises me what we can achieve with our own two feet and a lot of Sisu. And even when times do get tough, we do have control
of how we deal with things. Even in these high and quiet mountains,
when there is no way out, you need to find your tenacity
to hold on through the pain and fatigue; you need to find your inner Sisu. And you can’t just expect to have it. You have to earn it, learn it,
and be nurtured through it. My footsteps have not always been easy. There have been struggles,
like politics in sport, injuries, relationship battles, constant movement
with no structure or routine. I remember one race clearly. I was standing on the podium
with two other women. We had been given nice bathrobes,
and some suntan lotion as our prize. The men got 1,500 euros
and a case of beer each. (Laughter) Being Sisu girls enabled us
to stand our ground against inequality in a sport that we love. We didn’t move from that podium
until the organizers agreed to acknowledge that we had done something
just as awesome as men. And we demanded equal prizes
for men and women. It is through struggles like these that I have learned what a girl
with Sisu looks like: resilient, honest, patient, brave; a girl with no limitations, a girl who has fallen time and time again, and is not afraid
to fall gracefully again. I am honored to be considered
a Sisu girl – as a positive role model to encourage others, especially girls,
to find their inner Sisu, to show the world their true colors,
their determination to succeed through trial and error, strength
and fun, hard work and passion. People often ask me,
“How can I teach Sisu to my children?” I answer, “You can’t do it alone.” This is our global project. It’s not simple, we need all hands on. We need to nurture and nourish everyone
for what they are and who they are. We need to encourage them,
as my parents did for me, as wonderful role models,
to spread their wings and fly. All of you, each and every one of you,
also have the opportunity to be wonderful role models
to the girls and boys in your lives. Together, let’s make a change
and celebrate what we have, which is an opportunity
for a world full of Sisu girls. Thank you.

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