“What the heck are you doing out here?” This was a conversation with myself a few weeks ago as I was attempting to haul myself up a rather steep and rocky mountainside. Just a few miles ago, I was having a whole different conversation with myself as I was blazing my way through the rocks and mud on a much easier stretch, where I was telling myself just how amazing I was for getting up at the butt crack of dawn to come out and hike 10 hard, and challenging miles in an area I knew ZERO about. But now, the trail was showing it’s true colors, and so was I.
My whining only intensified when the annoying twenty something came bouncing up the mountain behind me like a gazelle out for a nice little walk. There was NO sweat on his body. He was not breathing heavy. And I am pretty sure there was a youthful smirk on his face as he glided effortlessly past me.
I on the other hand, stood there soaked in my own sweat, gasping for air, looking and smelling like a wet cat. Everything in the rotten part of me wanted to trip him with my trekking pole, and say, “Oops, my bad!” as he went barreling back down the mountain.
But I was a good girl and just moved out of his way before he plowed me down.
I have encountered scenes like this countless times on the trail. There is always someone faster, stronger, and more confident than me. I am easily intimidated and often left feeling like I am not worthy to be out doing what I am doing. Sometimes those feelings come from lies I tell myself in my own mind, but sadly they come directly and indirectly from others. For a long time it was hard to find a way to deal with the negativity, both in reality and within my own mind. But after finding the group Unlikely Hikers on Instagram, my mindset completely changed.
The post that totally took my thinking to a new and positive perspective was a from a heavy set woman named Jenny. She posted an amazing picture of her on the summit of a gorgeous mountain somewhere along the Pacific Coast Trail. Absolute joy, pride, and accomplishment were plastered all across her beautiful sweat and dirt covered face. She wrote how she had struggled up the mountain. She was passed, she was encouraged to turn around, and she left behind. But she didn’t dwell on any of that. She focused on what she had just accomplished. Her speed may not have been that of others that day, and she may have had to have taken several breaks along the way, but she accomplished the exact same thing as everyone else climbing that day. She made it to the top. Jenny ended her victory speech with the hash tag #mybodygotmehere.
YES! YES! YES!!!!!!
Here’s the thing I have learned. I don’t owe anyone a set number of miles. I don’t owe anyone a time limit. I don’t owe anyone elevation gain. I don’t even owe anyone an explanation of the things I have accomplished. The only person I owe is myself. As long as I am honest to me, and push myself to do what I think I can do, the opinions of others are just empty words.
But getting to that place is hard. REALLY hard. Everywhere I look I see folks on social media, T.V., and other public forums, telling me my body is wrong. I need to work harder, stop eating carbs, stop eating period, eat only organic, join their cross fit gym, go Keto, give up sugar, go to bed earlier, or take whatever supplement is popular at the moment.
All that is fine and good, but that is what worked for YOU. That is what makes YOU happy. That is what drives YOU. See the theme there? All those things that work for and make you successful are great….for YOU. But we are each one uniquely and beautifully designed, and your way not be the right way.
Last week while scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post on a hiking page that I actually help admin. A dear sweet lady posted about a beautiful and pretty hard hike she had completed. Instead of being absolutely joyous, she started off her post almost like she was unsure she could post it within the group since she was not one of those who could hike 20 miles in one day. I wanted to scream at her through the internet, “Sister, celebrate fully what YOU just accomplished! Don’t think you aren’t worthy because your body looks different and moves differently! You ARE a WARRIOR!”
Friend, stop thinking you are not good enough. Stop feeling unworthy, incapable, or undeserving. You may not look like others. You may not move like others. You may prefer steak and fries over tofu and kale. And that is OKAY! You may not get there as fast or as graceful as others, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is you go. You climb the mountain. You keep pressing on when everyone else is passing you up. You don’t quit when others tell you that you will never make it. You keep going.
Three years ago when I started hiking and I was out on my first solo hike, I had a moment where I stopped and just stood there willing myself off the mountain. I was questioning my sanity, and why I ever thought I could do this. All of a sudden, a stranger, who later became a good friend, came up behind me. He was fast. He was experienced. He was everything I was not. But he didn’t acknowledge any of that. Instead he made me feel like a rock star. Over and over he told me how impressive it was I was out climbing this mountain on my own. It was what he said as he turned to leave that has stuck with me every day since. “Just remember, you are already lapping everyone sitting at home on the couch!”
Dear friend, do not EVER let your own doubts and fears, or the opinions of others keep you from doing what it is you long to do. Just because you may not look the part or do it the way others think you should, it has no bearing on the fact that you are still getting it done. Remember…..YOUR BODY GOT YOU HERE.