Over the past two and half years that I have been in college, I have encountered mountains and climbed them – both literally and figuratively. But what in the world do I mean by that? Simply put, the mountains in my life have been people and experiences that have pushed me to the edge and made me jump into the unknown. I am fortunate that I have faced these mountains throughout my life though because they made me climb, adapt, struggle, and ultimately change.
The first time I saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee I was taken aback by the pure beauty of them. Granted my first view was the outcome of driving up to a vantage point to see them, so I didn’t really understand them at first. It wasn’t until I had to climb up to the top of Clingmans Dome that I truly understood why the view was always described as breath-taking: all the walking made you extremely winded! I was literally breathless as I reached the top, but it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. (Pictures don’t do it justice)
Yet, admiring the view of the Smokies made me realize that literally climbing up mountains is much easier than overcoming the figurative mountains life places in your path. These figurative mountains can be a wide array of things, like the boy who broke your heart, the position you didn’t get, the class that made you doubt yourself, or the event that changed your life. They can be small mountains that you pass over with ease or huge obstacles that take you months to conquer.
Either way, figurative mountains impact you in ways that you never expect. One of the most daunting mountains I have climbed was my first heartbreak. How cliché, I know, but my broken heart taught me so much more beyond being left by someone I loved. The beginning of my climb over this figurative mountain of heartbreak was accepting that being vulnerable is alright and sometimes being vulnerable is the only way to push ourselves to grow.
By allowing myself to be vulnerable, I let go of someone who didn’t want me and I embraced those who wanted to be part of my life. It was comforting letting my loved ones support me, but it also gave me the strength to push myself. I met a wide array of new people, each surprising me in different ways as they showed me how much I was changing and growing as a person.
Halfway up the mountain, I realized that I was truly moving on and it left me feeling surprisingly relieved. I felt new freedoms and independence that I hadn’t felt before and I wanted to explore these new found feelings even more. This need to expand myself pushed me to study abroad in England for the summer, something I had wanted to do for a while but I had been too scared to pursue any further.
Throughout my travels during my study abroad, I was faced with challenges that I didn’t originally see when I started my climb up my figurative mountain. I was thrown into a new culture with people I didn’t know, yet these obstacles ended up being some of my most memorable experiences from my trip. The people I didn’t know became my friends and the new culture became familiar, both teaching me how adapting can be scary but worthwhile all at once.
When my summer ended, I found myself looking down on my figurative mountain and the journey I had embarked on to get to this point. The climb was long, tedious, and made me doubt myself several times along the way, but it was the most life changing journey of my life. I had lost people along the way up, yet it didn’t bother me the way it once had because I gained so much more than I had lost.
My figurative mountain of heartbreak taught me life goes on and that you never know what lies around the corner. It pushed me into the person I am now; a girl who loves adventures, meeting new people, and accepts that some things are out of your control but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of them.
Whether it be hiking real mountains or venturing up figurative mountains, both have the potential to change you. The change you go through as you conquer your mountains may be intimating, but always remember that the most daunting of climbs usually have the most rewarding views at the end.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” -Edmund Hillary