What if somebody came up to you and said the words, “you can’t do it?” What if somebody came up to you and pushed you down, kicked you, forced you to stop moving forward, and forced you to stop trying? What if this same person knocked you down time and again, reminding you that you are a failure, and that you can never do anything with your life? What if this person told you that you’ll never make it over this next obstacle, or that you can never climb that mountain, or that you can never cross that canyon? Well, look up, because that person is you.
Here you are. The mountain is large, and looms over you with such height and width that you start to second guess yourself. You stand at the base of it and simply stare. The snow hits you in the face, and you can feel the trembling cold that seeps in through your coat and gloves. Maybe you should turn back? Maybe you weren’t ready for this. You look at the top, and realize with a start that you can’t even see it. Clouds surround it so thickly, to the point that you aren’t sure if the top even exists. The doubts start flying in, and you have no choice but to listen to them. And, the more you listen, the more you start to believe them. Giving up, at this moment, seems like the best option in the world. The mountain seems too big anyway. Who even knows whether you’d be able to make it all the way to the top or not?
The problem with facing a disaster is not the obstacle, but our mindset. It’s easy to say, “I’ll cross the valley,” but harder to back up words with actions. It’s easy to say to a mountain, “get up, and move” without having the belief that it will. Soon, as we move through life, we understand that the obstacles and disasters are nothing compared to the problems that you pose to ourselves. It is us; it always was us. We continue to be our biggest obstacle. We are the disaster in our own lives. If we can face ourselves, our doubts and fears, then we can surely face any other thing with ease.
“I can’t get through it.” If you keep telling yourself that, you’ll soon believe it. Our perspective is severely flawed. When we look up and see an obstacle or hardship, that’s all we can see. We are unable, incapable, of looking beyond the negativity. It surrounds us, haunts us, and pushes us down, to the point where we believe we cannot ever stand again. We don’t see the reality of our situation: we are the ones holding ourselves back. What we see before us, that disaster we are so afraid to face, is only a single dot in the ever expanding timeline of our lives. Sure, that disaster may look big now, but soon, we will forget we have ever faced it. The important thing to remember is this; that not everything lasts forever. Our eyes have been deceived; they make the obstacles of our lives look bigger than they really are. So, let’s put the blinders on and go out there, face our fears, face ourselves, face the obstacle, and win.
So okay: you’ve managed to convince yourself to attempt and climb this huge, snowy mountain. You’ve begun to trudge up its side, your feet following the ridges so that your boots have something to grip. It’s harder than you imagined it would be: your fingers are already numb, you can barely see the hand in front of your face, and the cold has managed to find a way underneath all of your protective layers. You’ve already lost one bag of supplies, after an accident when you took to a ridge too steep and put the bag down for a moment to catch your breath. Now, it’s just you, a smaller sack, and your ever-weary determination. You hadn’t thought it’d be this difficult, and you start to make promises to yourself that you aren’t sure you can keep. “Oh, I think I should turn around and try another time,” or “I’ll get more supplies and training and come back in a few years.” You pause your climb and start to wonder if turning back is perhaps that is the best course of action at the moment. Besides, it’s too cold, you’ve already lost one bag, and a huge tiredness is suddenly overcoming you. Maybe next time.
Don’t make excuses. Another problem we face is the fact that we often try and get out of facing a certain obstacle. “It’s too hard,” or “I’ll never win,” or “I’ll face it some other time.” Something we must understand is that, when we procrastinate like this, we have already lost. We have given control over to the disaster and are content to sit there and let it attack us on every side. We’ve given up, became soft and lazy. Since when did we become content with doing nothing? Since when are we comfortable with throwing up our white flag every time we meet something we don’t want to face? Get up! This is not a walk in the park! These are our lives, and this is our time. We’ve been given an opportunity to face a disaster other people have been fighting for years. We need to take it into our own hands and believe in ourselves. Enough with the “do it later”’s and “not for me”’s. It’s time to climb harder than we ever have before. Strive to make it. Believe we can make it. Will ourselves to make it.
Without warning, you’ve run into another problem. You settle down on a flat part of ground to make camp for the night. Then you hear a menacing and intimidating growl from behind you. You quickly turn and come face to face with narrowed feline eyes. A giant snow leopard has followed you and, judging by its demeanor, it doesn’t look friendly. You can feel yourself starting to tremble, and your mind goes blank. You hadn’t expected this kind of threat at all, and with your unpreparedness, you are sure to die if you don’t act quickly. How do you act when faced with such an unexpected disaster as this?
In school, we are taught a number of things. We are taught to work with equations, to memorize dates, to know the steps of a number of different processes. We are expected to test on the curriculum, and to learn, memorize, and be familiar with the assigned material. But, I can promise you this: nothing taught in school can ever prepare you for the obstacles ahead. In math class, we are taught to solve for x, yet never taught how to solve our own problems, just somebody else's. The truth is that you can never be truly prepared for a disaster. There is no textbook to read, no line to memorize, no equation to plug in. There is no single way to solve the problem. And that scares us. We face our obstacles, trying to solve them in the ways that we have been taught all our lives, but we can’t. We have to learn that sometimes, there is no answer. We can’t always solve the problem. What we can do, however, is to get through it. Face it, and then move on. We won't ever be prepared for the disasters that are coming our way, but we don’t need to be. Everything we ever needed will not be taught to us in a classroom, or from a book, or even from this essay. Everything we will need is inside us, so use it.
I’ve got good news: You’ve fended off the snow leopard. Out of desperation, you took your last remaining bag, containing the rest of your food supplies, and threw it far away from you. Without hesitation, you ran in the opposite direction, abandoning your temporary campsite and every other thing you brought on this adventure. You are now alone, cold, on a mountain, with no supplies or rations of any kind. While escaping, the snow leopard managed to cut you. The blood has soaked through your bandage, and it drips to the ground below you. It stings like crazy. You finally have processed the predicament that you find yourself in, and conclude that there is no way to turn this into a positive. You tried, you failed, and now you will pay the penalty for it. You can’t help it: you press your cold face into your even colder gloves, and cry. Defeat has overtaken you, and you can think of nothing else except to sit and wait, hoping for a rescue of some kind, or, if not that, some kind of relief. Regardless, you’ve lost. It’s all over now, and the snow has turned red.
Failure. It is the one thing that every person in the world can say they’ve experienced. But we mislabel what our failure really is. We view our loses as a bad thing. We mess up, we make mistakes, we don’t always make it. Anything that goes awry is a failure. We fear it. We always talk about how much we fail, how we just couldn’t do it. We fail to recognize our true error. Our failure is not messing up. Our failure is giving up. When we fail to try, when we get the notion in our head that we can’t do something, or that we can never get out of the situation we are in, these are the true failures. The belief that something cannot be done is the only mistake we could ever make. The disasters in our lives make it seem as though the impossible cannot be done. But this is not the time to give up. Don’t you dare quit. This is where you are your strongest. It’s not over until you allow it to be over. Stand up. Remember why you set out to conquer this disaster or obstacle in the first place. Find your motivation. You want to get over this mountain? Great, now tell me why. What is your why? Why bother setting out in the first place? You have gotten so far, that the only failure you could possibly have is giving up now. But you are not a failure. You can succeed. The final piece of advice I can give you is this: find your why. Once you can answer this question, you have already faced half the battle. Your motivation is your sword, so use it. Fear isn’t your biggest obstacle; it’s your lack of why, which becomes a lack of motivation. So find it and continue forward.
The snow is white now. The bleeding has stopped, as has your crying. You’ve managed to continue forward. Step after step brings you deeper and deeper into the unknown. You’ve fallen into a rhythm now. Step, step, step, pause. Step, step, step, pause. Step, step ... an irregularity. You find you cannot go any further. You quickly lift your head up and your eyes are met with the sight you only believed you could achieve. The most wonderful scene is before you, and as you look around, you realize you know exactly where you are. The clouds have cleared, the snow is white, and you have made it. The top does exist after all. Your faith has become sight. Enjoy the view, for you have earned it. It is yours. You have conquered, you have overcome, you have won.