I’ll probably lose all my 22,000 Twitter followers after I make this confession, but I adore, absolutely adore Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” I am not sure who wrote the song (sure, I could do research), but I have to believe they fully understand mountain climbing. There are a couple of key lines that indicate this to me but especially this one–My faith is shaken.
I remember the first time I saw Mt. Kilimanjaro from the airplane that was flying at a lower altitude to Arusha, Tanzania. I turned to my traveling partner and said, “What the fuck?” How was I to climb the world’s tallest freestanding mountain when I hadn’t even climbed one.
As we arrived at the entrance gates of the Machame route that hardly felt like the base of a mountain but rather being dropped in the middle of the rain forest, I had no idea how we were getting to the top.
My summit night I learned one of the most important lessons of my life–accomplishing something just requires faith. It was dark, cold, and the middle of the night. I was so out of breath and so out of it that I thought I was going to collapse. I remember halfway through that eight-hour climb, “Don’t doubt this, because doubt will only lead to not getting to the top.”
For four more hours, I repeated in my head, “I can fucking do this” and then reached the summit early in the morning. Faith is what got me to the top of that mountain. A belief in myself. I look at pictures of Kili and think about how it’s possible to get to the top even when you don’t know the path–if you have faith.
To say that my faith was shaken in 2011 is an understatement. I spent much of last year being unhappy, frustrated, and confused. I had a close friend nearly die, I faced way too much rejection that I couldn’t understand and, at times, I felt hopeless.
I woke up one morning last June, and that was it–my life was not going to be lived that way. On an early morning flight from Washington, D.C., I promised myself that I would find faith again in myself, which somehow I was beginning to lose. What I do know about unhappiness is that it’s never good to stay in one spot, because that’s what led to it. It doesn’t just work itself out magically.
I went into action. I sat down and made a list of the things I wanted in my life. I signed up for Everest. I wanted to be proud of my work. I wanted a healthy relationship. I firmly believe that writing down your goals makes you more accountable for them. I didn’t hesitate.
Yesterday, I had my photo taken for Time magazine. I was talking with the makeup artist in my kitchen. I asked her how she had the courage to be a full-time freelance artist, not ever knowing what her monthly income would be. Her answer: “It comes down to faith.”
Once again, she reminded me that if you believe, it will be. I keep a fortune on my MacBook Air that reads “Where there is will, there is way.” Running a marathon, writing a book, or even climbing on Everest doesn’t take great intelligence or athletic prowess; it just takes belief. I promise you.