5 lessons Nepal taught me about me, myself and my business
I recognise how utterly cliched it is to journey halfway across the world to hike a mountain with the goal to 'find one's self'. But, travel is never a bad idea. Right?
After a particularly bad week, I realised I'd been fighting with myself for over 12 months.
The sad truth about freelancing is that sometimes you feel as though you've got no career progression. So, over the last 12 months I’d been questioning whether I was being left behind. It seemed all my close friends where reaching their first 6-figure pay checks, while I was was still struggling to get my clients to pay invoices on time.
I felt like I had completely lost myself. I had been desperately searching for passion and purpose. I even considered going back to uni and completely changing my career. I felt like I had lost control of my future, unsure whether the path I was on was even mine to begin with.
So desperate for answers, I did what I always do and booked a flight. This time, to Nepal.
A few hours before my flight, I cried. I cried because I was sad to leave Josh, I was scared of having to fully rely on myself, I was anxious about what was waiting for me halfway around the world.
I cried because I had only just started understanding my introverted nature, and suddenly I had put myself in a situation that scared the crap out of me.
I convinced myself that this was going to be good for me. And I believed it.
But it didn't make it any less difficult.
5 lessons Nepal taught me about me, myself and my business
1. You never know unless you try
I had this idea of what Nepal would be like. I imagined pushy vendors, cab drivers prodding at me, and thick polluted air. But it wasn't anything like I had expected.
Amongst the chaos, there was a calmness to Nepal.
The day I arrived, I shared a cab with a Brit I had met on the plane, and walked from his hotel through the notoriously confusing streets of Thamel. Normally, I would feel really uneasy trying to navigate an area I had never been before, particularly with all my belongings on my back. But, I felt really excited. I smiled ear to ear as I walked down the enchanting, chaotic streets, searching for my hotel.
I don't know what it is about Nepal, but the moment I started exploring, my heart skipped a beat. Something about this place really spoke to me. The people were genuinely kind. The culture was fascinatingly diverse. And my 7-day hike to Mardi Himal Base Camp, made me fall even deeper in love, than I've ever been before, for a country.
Lesson: It's better to experience things first-hand than to believe the whispers going around.
2. One step before the next
I'm the type of person who always gets ahead of myself.
Whether I'm excited or nervous for something to happen, the suspense kills me. I'm like the spoilt 'I want it now' child in Willy Wonka. I really do, want it now.
But life isn't stressful in Nepal. Well, it could be, but Nepalese people don't really let anything get to them.
Sometimes you can't move at all because you're stuck in the middle of a traffic jam that will take an hour to clear. And that's ok. Just turn the bus off, take a nap, and chat to your fellow seat buddy. The point is, that bus will eventually move, you'll eventually get to where you need to be. Stressing about it won't get you there any faster.
While trekking, I quite literally learned to take everything step by step. When times were tough, that's how I got through it—one foot in front of the next.
Lesson: There's no use in getting worked up over situations that makes me feel overwhelmed. Instead, I need to take a step back, breathe and approach these stressful situations one step at a time.
3. I can push myself further than I ever thought I could
Have you ever been in a situation where your inner dialogue convinces you that you just can't? How many times have you let that dialogue win, and given up?
I don't often push myself. Once my mind has given up, my body will follow. But along the Mardi trail, my body had no choice but to keep going.
Day four, I made my way up to High Camp. Once I past 3000m, every little movement I made was so much more difficult. I felt as though I could hardly breathe. That was the day my mind gave up. I started questioning how I'd ever make it to base camp at 4500m.
I arrived at High Camp defeated. My mind had won.
I collapsed on my bed, trying desperately not to break down and cry in front of my guide, Ankit. He could see in my face I was defeated. He sat down next to me and put his arm around me.
The only way I could get past my inner dialogue was to bargain with it.
"You just need to make it to lower viewpoint", I told myself. "You didn't come this far to give up here".
As much as I sulked that day, I got up at 4am the next day to climbed that mountain ahead of me.
I bargained, like I've never bargained before. I've never been so depleted as I was climbing that day. But I made it. I watched the sunrise at lower viewpoint. And when everyone else around me started to descend, I went on.
And I made it to base camp.
Lesson: I'm stronger and more resilient than my mind allows me to be. Tight deadlines, challenging briefs and difficult clients are nothing, I've climbed a freaking mountain, after all. 💪🏼
4. Positive thinking is powerful
My incredible guide Ankit was very matter-of-fact. On day one, he told me to stay positive. Advice I reminded myself every morning.
Most of my strength along the trail came from positive thinking. When I let the negative thoughts take over, I'd give up.
When I felt the negative thoughts creeping in, I'd start a conversation with Ankit, to get my mind off it. Other times I'd try to stay present—I'd think about what I was doing, smelling, seeing, experiencing. At times, I'd even start writing in my head. More often than not, these little tactics gave me the strength to keep going.
And when that strength was all dried up, I had Ankit pushing me. We joked about him dragging me up the mountain if he had to. But all jokes aside, I really think he would've if it came to it.
Lesson: Don't let the negative thoughts win. You are more than capable of doing anything you put your mind to—as long as you're prepared to work hard for it.
5. The most difficult things are worth it in the end
No matter how difficult each day was, it was always worth it in the end.
All the sunrises, rainbows, deep valleys and snow-capped mountain views were worth the blood, sweat and (almost) tears. Even when we arrived in the clouds, with no view to look out at, we had a cosy night around the fire with new found friends to look forward to.
Every gloriously good moment on the trail was a thousand times better than the difficult times experienced.
Lesson: Hard work will always lead to something wonderful.
Nepal was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and the truth is, I'm so glad I did it alone. When I think back to what I achieved, it's really so rewarding knowing I did it, all by myself.
It's reminded me that I'm in control of my life. If I want faster career progression or a larger pay check, then I need to work hard, and make that happen. Ain't nobody going to hand those things to me without a helluva lot of hard work.