I climb high mountains. There are many mountains in life, and I’ve discovered that these lessons apply. Here is another important lesson from our series of three.
There’s a reason people climb mountains, and it’s not because they’re there. People climb mountains to reach higher, to test their meddle, to prove something to them selves. Find a summit in your life – something audacious, something grand – and go for it.
I love what Dr. Laura Schlesinger says in her book 10 Stupid Things That Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives (if you haven’t read it, you really should):
Go make yourself feel like you have purpose on this earth. Go feel like your existence makes the world different. Go do something that gives your life meaning. Your choice in men will improve. We only go after, and we only accept, what we think we deserve. Go back to school—go become yourself. Dream, reach….When you dare to dream, dare to follow that dream, dare to suffer through the pain, sacrifice, self-doubts, and friction from the world—when you show courage and tenacity—you will genuinely impress yourself.
At the age of 35, fresh after returning to the States after five years of struggling in Iran, still stinging from my divorce, I had to unearth my authentic self. More important, to keep from repeating the same mistakes that took me way, way off course, I had to WOW myself. I began this journey with running. What started as a weight loss gimmick, evolved into a spiritual transformation. Running gave me, for the very first time, confidence, pride, space, and the ability to cope. I discovered the joy of the job well done. I learned, in the words of author George Sheehan, how to handle pain and give an improbable effort, and do it all alone.
At 40, I went back to school and rediscovered my passion for writing. I began exploring all the fears I had about myself, about my own worth. The things I read inspired me to share my secrets, thereby releasing me from their hold. Somewhere among those pages, I got the permission I needed to get real. Three years and a lot of miles later, me, myself, and I earned a writing degree from Harvard.
Every year I try something daring, because facing down fear is how great things start. Now I climb big mountains. And run ultra-marathons. I married an astounding, loving man who values me. I’m writing a book. I finally figured out what I never could when I was young: to be an adult, a whole integral person, you have to make mistakes, get off course, endure discomfort, and doubt yourself. You have to endure. The knowledge that you can reach the summit despite the setbacks is what puts the strut in your step.
From the summit where I stand, I can see that everything is possible for you. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams.
Ann Sheybani, 48, is a high altitude mountaineer, ultra-distance runner, and blue water sailor. She is a speaker, coach and author of the popular blog, Things Mama Never Taught Me. Visit her at www.annsheybani.com. © 2011 Ann Sheybani