Overcoming Self Doubt - Summiting Mt Hood
Recently I have begun to love when I prove myself wrong. Sometimes when we doubt ourselves we hold ourselves back from the possibility of greatness. Assuming we can’t do something is the death of possibilities and anything is possible when we believe in ourselves. Sounds cheesy but when we change our own status quo we can foster change in all aspects of our community.
For 2.5 years I looked up at the majestic peak of Mt Hood and wondered if I could summit it. For 2.5 years I doubted myself and my capabilities. I doubted my strength and endurance. I assumed that summiting Hood was something that my husband, Brad, and I wouldn't be able to do on our own. This past spring we crushed that self doubt and hesitation and stood on the summit of Mt Hood on a beautiful, sunny and perfect Saturday. It was everything I thought it would be and more.
We left Portland at 12:30am and started skinning up the Timberline Climber's Trail at about 2:30am. The air was crisp and freezing and within thirty minutes I already started to feel the self doubt creep up. I was cold and tired and I wanted to quit. One part of me wanted to turn around, drive back to Portland and crawl into my cozy bed. But another part of me, a stronger part, was not quitting. I was determined to stand on the summit of that damn volcano.
The further we got the icier it got and eventually our climbing skins stopped sticking to the snow. We strapped our skis to our back and switched to crampons just as the horizon started to lighten. The sky warmed with a pink glow as it got steeper and steeper. I could taste the salt of my sweat run down my hot face as I breathed heavy.
I was definitely out of my comfort zone but I was ok with that for once.
We reached the Hogs Back and took a break in the icy cold snow. I laid down exhausted, wanting to nap right then and there but the summit was still calling my name. We ditched our skis and downed some water and energy chews and continued up the mountain. There were dozens of people on that mountain that day. It was like a trail of ants and the amount of people gave me anxiety. There were times that I felt panicked and overwhelmed with fear that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t physically capable of climbing this mountain. I pushed the fear and anxiety to the back of my mind and trudged on.
When we approached the Pearly Gates they were exactly as I imagined. It was narrow, like a canal, forcing us to climb up one at a time. The fall below was steep and far. It was morning now and I could see the sun shining on the summit. The sun reflected off the snow and generously invited me to come bask in its glory. One foot in front of another. As I threw my ice axe into the snow a smile crept across my face because I was finally conquering my fears. Next thing I knew I was out of the gates and hiking the last few feet to the summit. I was overcome with emotion and turned to Brad excitedly and shouted, “I can’t believe we did it!” It was an incredible moment, one that I will never forget.
We still had to climb down the pearly gates and back to our skis at the Hogs Back but as far as I was concerned my goal had finally been accomplished. The climb down was in some ways scarier than the up part because well you’re down climbing and it’s far and steep and freaking scary as hell. Falling is not an option. Breathing deeply and going slow was necessary. When we got back to our skis I turned around and looked back at the summit and said to myself that’d I be back. I was officially hooked on volcano life.
Fear and self doubt can be debilitating in more ways than one. I have spent too long in my younger years letting self doubt and fear run my life. A few things have helped me along the way to overcome self doubt and to help me summit mountains and accomplish other goals. I needed to train myself how to be my own inspiration and how to stop comparing myself to my peers. Easier said than done, I know. When we are always comparing ourselves to others we will feel inadequate. A healthier approach is to constantly remind ourselves that everyone is on their own journey, none better than the other, just different.
When I married Brad I was filled with nerves about saying my vows in front of so many people so wrote my vows inside of a card that said 'You Got This'. As I got tired on the side of that mountain and wanted to quit Brad reminded me that I had this and that we were was totally going to summit the mountain together. I didn't think I could do it and I did.
So lemme me tell you something about self doubt - I’ve learned that it's a negative outlook that holds us back in life. With the right attitude you can bring any goal into being; it’s all a matter of perspective and training. Next time you think you can't do something take a look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of all the amazing things you have accomplished in life and then go for it, attempt that goal or lofty dream. You never know, you might surprise yourself, and conquer that goal and even if you don't at least you know that you tried. You Got This.