When I am on the trail, I am my truest self. It's all me: the highs, the lows, the tranquility, the energy, the sadness, the happiness, the frustration.
Growing through your twenties is hard. We all feel a little lost at one point or another. We struggle to differentiate our true sense of self from the never-ending expectations projected upon us by others. In my case, I have found myself spending a lot of time trying to redefine my purpose in life and my reasons for living.
Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has become the best remedy against my mental illness. It allows me to quiet the monsters residing inside my head, reminding them that I am in control, and they will never stop me from pursuing my happiness.
On the trails is where you will find me, completely present. A focus on the physical demands pushes me to quiet the internal noise inside my mind. I forget about the demands of everyday living and simply, let go.
I show up for the challenge—both the physical and the mental one. As I slowly begin to feel the physical exhaustion and steady pain creep across my body, my mind tries to regain control.
"You are a failure."
"You can't do this."
"You will never succeed."
"You will never be loved."
I am never completely sure by what happens next. Maybe it is due to the overpowering feeling of warm sunshine on my arms, or the sensation of fresh air spreading through my lungs? Because all of a sudden, these pure surroundings give me the strength to shut off all the negative self-talk. I am reminded of what I have already endured and what I still have to face ahead.
As my feet hit heavily upon the trail, I recall the memories of picking myself back up from rock bottom. Those initial feelings of frustration and anger have long dissipated. Now gratitude seeps in—gratitude for continuous opportunities to grow, to be challenged and to bare my soul.
Our life trajectory is a lot like a range of mountains: peaks and valleys reflect the highs and lows. Some days we are able to see things from the top, with great perspective, yet other times, we must ask for a retreat, knowing we will face a climb another day. The trails serve as a reminder of the journey: the push, the breaking points, the revelations. Struggle and pain will always be part of that journey.
So, on those days when my life feels all too hard, I ache to get back on the trail. When I'm there, I am awakened to a simple reminder: keep on trekking, happiness lies just around the bend.
To my #BanffJasper150 crew: Thank you for being authentic and vulnerable. Thank you for giving me the space to simply be myself. Much love.