(Selfie: tent living almost 6 weeks in on Everest)
I don't think I ever had an appreciation for myself in raw form until after coming back from my Everest expedition. Amazing five months have gone by since I got to see our beautiful earth from above and witness the most spectacular sunrise that instantly brought me to tears. The mighty fierce mountain chiseled away at a lot of us climbers over the course of two months. She stripped us of our preconceptions, our egos, our insecurities, our fears and the shell that we might have been living in. She exposed every weakness and strength that lived within and brought a fresh breath to my soul. She revealed my true core and true center and my most authentic self. She made me question my purpose and drive. There was no sense in pretending, there was no one to impress, but only to be true to oneself and push as hard as one could to hopefully bear witness to the awe and wonder at her peak.
By raw I will reference a favorite online dictionary:
- Being in or nearly in the natural state : not processed or purified : not diluted or blended
- Unprepared or imperfectly prepared for use
- Not being in polished, finished or processed form
Five months have come and gone and the journey since my return has evolved in an effort to preserve that rawness in my day to day, as there was a beauty in it. Every decision and action for two months on the mountain was based on survival and with the end goal in mind, which led to a simplistic way of living, although in a severely extreme environment. No matter how scared, tired or uncertain I felt about the outcome of my climb, each day I only focused on being safe, making sound decisions and putting one foot in front of the other to get to that place I was trying to go. I was true to myself and heart while I was there and found a sense of center I had never felt, although this was my second attempt and I have climbed many other peaks before.
Back in the day to day and with a different level of pressure and complexity life can bring, I look back on my time there for motivation to continue on the path to being truly authentic to myself and heart regardless of outside factors. I have found that the greatest disappointments in my life have been when I was not true to myself, as the hardest person to let down is yourself. We can be our own worst critics.
Being true to you is not always an easy mission, as we have to deal with external expectations at times or sometimes not being authentic is easier. Each of us is faced day to day with the different roles we must play in our work, our families, with our friends and other communities. Deep down we may know what we want in life and our core values, but the journey to get there may seem monumental. Feelings of doubt and fear might creep in, wondering if it would just be easier to settle or cater to what others might expect of us rather than what we expect from ourselves. Of course it may be easier, no doubt. In these times, I think back fondly how being raw and focused helped me achieve a very special goal and the beauty in that.
In the past five months I have definitely slipped from the raw and authentic path at times; I am human and make mistakes. Yet, I have a new level of appreciation for my inner level of rawness and that when I listen to it and act on it; I am happiest and often provide the most value to those around me. Try.Fail.Learn.Get Up.Redo.Win.Repeat. Never be untrue to the real you, the repercussions are not worth it. I may have learned the hard way a few times, but I appreciate the level of awareness and growth it has given me.
This journey to preserving rawness and authenticity is not one of perfection, but rather one of discovery, risk, trial, mistakes, awareness and at times little or big personal victories. It involves realizing that being true to who you are doesn't make everyone your best friend, and being ok with the fact you might piss some people off along the way. Life is not linear, and sometimes we must fall and fail to rise a little stronger to be able to win the next time. Sometimes we have to be humbled and learn gratitude in order to truly receive. Sometimes our hearts have to be ripped raw to feel and be open to all that is possible.
All of those experiences, good and bad, make us who we are and special for who we are. It is those moments when we made ourselves proud and those moments where we were our own biggest disappointment that brings the self-awareness to our authenticity.
Get to know you, what you stand for, what you believe and the person you want to be. No doubt there will be times where you may stray, I know I have, but the beautiful thing is we all have the chance for a new and better beginning every day to go back to our raw and authentic path.