It was day 9 of my 2 week trek around the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal and I was standing at the foot of yet another steep climb. The last and biggest of that day.
My hiking mates had all preceded me and were climbing the snowy and barely there path with the elegance and spring of mountain goats.
And me, well…I just stood there…lacking all my usual strength, bravado and positivity and feeling the agony of 12 giant blisters, a severe lack of oxygen and the physical and mental exhaustion that comes from walking up and down the Himalaya landscape for 9 straight days.
And this was not even the ‘big’ day. Oh no…the big climb to the 4500 meter pass was in that super near future we call ‘tomorrow’ and from what I’d heard it was gruesome…
So there I was…looking up at a 300 meter climb with the steepness of a black piste and the burden of an even worse climb in the not so back of my head…
I’d apparently lost control of my bottom lip and my eyes were slowly turning into a watery mess…
How the hell was I ever going to climb this mountain?
It was too steep, too high an altitude and I was too weak. There was just no way!
But if I wasn’t going to climb it…what was I going to do?
Just stand there and cry?
That would only cost me more energy. Plus, it was freezing; dying of hypothermia didn’t seem worth it…
And walk up and down all those paths again for 9 days? Oh no, hell no…
Fake altitude sickness and get a helicopter ride out of there?
Nah, my ego would’ve never allowed it…
So…what’s a girl to do?
Well…when you’ve looked at all the other options and none of them are acceptable, there’s really not much else to do than to just suck it up and move forward.
One babystep at a time.
And I did.
And of course I made it to the top.
And of course I did the same thing the very next day.
And of course this trek remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life until this very day.
Interestingly though, it’s not the beautiful vistas and views that I remember best…
Instead, it is those climbs that seemed too hard, those blisters that made my life a living hell and my legs that seemed too pudgy and rubbery to tackle those mountains…
…and that I climbed that motherf*cking mountain anyway!
Fast forward 6 years and I’m facing yet again a new mountain…
It looks a bit different…travelling the world (on my own) and making videoportraits/mini-documentaries of all sorts of people on a teeny tiny budget…but it’s a mountain nonetheless.
And yet, daunting as it is, it’s nowhere near as frightening and seemingly impossible as that climb was back then!
And that’s because of these 3 reasons:
1. Age + Experience = Trust (in yourself)
Yes, really! Growing older is fantastic!
Though that Himalaya mountain was the first I’ve literally climbed, I’ve faced many other daunting projects and (adven)ventures. Business (client projects, starting my own business, …) and personal (solo travels, renovating my house, …).
And every freaking time I’ve started on something new and big I worried that I was never ever going to be able to do it. Just like the actual mountain, it often seemed too big in comparison with what I was then capable of doing.
And like the mountain, I conquered them nonetheless.
Sure…not always without temper tantrums and usually with lots and lots of chocolate but hey…this being human thing isn’t always pretty!
Point is: I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again.
2. Babysteps, it’s all about babysteps
As long as you have a general vision in mind of what you want to achieve (get to the top of the mountain). And if you can relax in the fact that you don’t have to get there yesterday (because there’s just no way, right?)…
Then all you’ll need to realise it that you don’t have to do it all at once.
There’s always a logical first step you can take. And that could very well be: figure out what steps 2, 3, 4, etc. look like.
That’s how I climbed the mountain on that rough day…with tiny tiny steps, not continuously looking up but not losing sight of the goal either and with lots of breaks in between to breathe and make sure I didn’t lose it.
And that’s how I’ve tackled those other projects too.
Moving mountains becomes easy if you do so 1 rock/babystep at a time!
3. You don’t have to do this alone!
This is a mistake I’ve kept making in the past…I kept wanting to do things on my own!
I’m stubborn, a perfectionist, a proper introverted einzelgänger and absolutely love being able to say I did it myself.
But…it helps when there are people cheering you on from the top and sidelines. When you’ve got a guide who reassures you that you’re close, that you’re doing great and that there’s good food and hot tea waiting for you.
And it more than helps when you know other people deal with the same struggles you do.
There are sooo many people in the world; why not feed off each other’s lessons and positive energy when we need it?
Though only when you’re able to feed it right back at them of course!
I always try to steer clear of cliches like it’s about the journey, not the destination because ugghh…but…there’s a reason it’s such a cliche…it’s very true…
Wanting to get over the big bump and attaining your goal as soon as possible is very normal but that goal is probably not the thing you’ll look back at with love in your heart and a little smile on your face. It doesn’t make up the crazy stories you’ll tell your friends over dinner. And it isn’t what inspires you to start your next adventure.
To have big goals and ambitions is absolutely great but in the end they’re nothing more than things to check of your to-do-list.
Looking back at life, it’s really the experiences you’ve had and the lessons you’ve learned whilst getting there that make all the difference…