There’s a mountain. And all your life, you’ve watched people climb the mountain. Some climb only the foothills. Some climb to the clouds and beyond.
But no one climbs to the top. There is no top. Just more mountain, no matter how high they climb.
One day you decide to climb the mountain. Maybe it’s not your first time. Maybe you’ve gotten discouraged in the past, and you gave up. Or maybe this is your first time ever. The important thing is: you have a story to tell, so you’re going to climb up there and tell the world.
Good for you! There’s always room for one more on the mountain.
But you’re not sure how to start. You’ve watched others climb, you think you can do it, but where do you start? You want The Path.
Stop. You’re already starting wrong. There is no Path. Or rather, there are countless paths, but no One True Path. Every climber finds their own path.
If you stick around a while, you may find mentors. They can tell you what their paths were, but that doesn’t mean their paths will work for you. You can learn from their paths, but you still have to make your own.
So you’ll start climbing. And you’ll fall. Everybody does. Those climbers you see way up in the clouds? They’ve fallen more often than anyone. They’re the people who learned something every time they fell. And they kept going.
You keep going.
You keep going, and falling, and getting back up and going again. Learn from every fall. Each time you’ll get a little higher before you fall. Someday you’ll find you’re falling less often, and not as far. You’re getting higher.
You keep going.
And you’ll get discouraged. You’ll look up, and those clouds will seem as far away as ever. You’ll see people, friends even, who started after you and yet are higher up the mountain than you. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong.
Stop wondering. Keep going. Everybody has their own path.
But if you really get discouraged, ask your mentors. Ask your friends. Do some research. Find ways to get unstuck and onto a different path. Stuck doesn’t have to be permanent. You keep going.
And occasionally, when you really get discouraged, stop. Get a good grip. Turn around. Don’t look up.
Look down. See how far you’ve climbed.
If you’re not satisfied, look around for other paths. Look at where your path has gone astray, and ask what you could’ve done different. Try other paths. Or you could even (shhh!) give up. There’s no shame in that. Not everyone is a climber. Some just like to watch the climb.
But I suspect for most of you, if you stop and honestly look back, you’ll find you’ve climbed higher than you realized. You’re still not at the top because remember, there is no top! But you’ve climbed. It was a lot of work, but you’ve climbed. Give yourself credit for how far you’ve come.
And then face back upward. And keep going.