When I left my engineering job to become an adventure writer, I was in awe of mountaineering and alpine climbing. I had completed a one-month mountaineering course, had two years of trekking experience, attempted lead and traditional climbing, and held a low-income writing job with a trekking company. My adventure resume was sufficient to enter the outdoor world. I was confident that I could easily begin a career as a trek leader or mountain guide while continuing my content writing. However, as I spent more time on long treks in the Himalayas, my fascination with mountains started to diminish.
Although I was living the life of my dreams, it felt insufficient. After another year of confusion and extensive treks, I eventually found the answer. The reason I desired a full-time outdoor life was to explore alpine climbing rather than trekking. For those unfamiliar with these activities, alpine climbing involves reaching mountain summits through rock and ice patches (known as rock or mixed climbing), while trekking entails walking or hiking on comparatively easier paths to the highest point. During my initial two years of trekking, I became bored with merely reaching the summits through walking; I craved something more. I discovered that thrill in mountaineering, particularly rock climbing. But with the trekking job and complimentary Himalayan treks, I lost focus.
After this realization, it was time to say no to the upcoming advanced mountaineering course I had signed up for. I should use the money and six months to train and develop rock climbing skills instead of preparing for the course (which includes 6000 meters mountain climbing expedition), I thought to myself. Although the answer was clear to me, I lacked the courage to cancel the course. I couldn't face my reality. I constantly pondered what my new outdoor friends would think of me. Thoughts such as "She isn't strong enough to pursue mountaineering," "She's just like any other mountain enthusiast who gives up when things become difficult and serious," or "Girls can't handle challenging tasks anyway" clouded my mind, as if I had something to prove to them.
Throughout my rigorous training of 5-6 months, although I enjoy putting my body through pain, I would doubt my motivation. Due to technical reasons, my advanced course registration was transferred to a later batch (which got postponed more than a year due to COVID). During this wait time, I gained the strength to accept that I was not focusing on mountaineering. My true interest lay in climbing, and I resolved to follow that path unapologetically.
There was a sense of relief but I initially judged my choices. I knew that acceptance of this significant transition was hard for me. I was hesitant because I was scared of judgment, because I was not able to detach from my previous goals, and because I was not ready to let go of my older reality. My ego overwhelmed my true self.
We all struggle with such situations where we construct our false reality on the foundation of fear and negative emotions. Then build walls of denial with a roof of dishonesty. We seal ourselves from hope and truth through windows and doors of excuses. We keep ourselves trapped in our own house filled with regret, pain, and shame. Sometimes the house gets deteriorated with life experiences, self-assessment, and self-discovery. Sometimes it remains intact causing lifelong misery.
I feel satisfied that I let go of my old dreams because it paved my path for a new and amazing reality. I now enjoy climbing without any guilt. My mountaineering and high-altitude experience is beneficial for climbing outdoors. In fact, my life is a combination of high-altitude trekking, mountaineering, and rock climbing. I continue to engage in all of them. When I look back today, I realize it was a journey of becoming a stronger climber and outdoor enthusiast through mountaineering and trekking. It was all for the best.
Shedding my inhibitions I have become better at acceptance, not just with outdoor life but in my personal life too. I no longer let my ego second-guess my decisions. I surrender to the process and trust the universe, knowing that only good things lie ahead for me. Reaching that level of acceptance is easy now!