Last weekend my boyfriend and I were discussing the possibility of going to Switzerland with his family in the summer.
The conversation turned to the walks we could take in the incredible mountains there – most impressive sounding to me was the ‘top of Europe’.
We were talking about altitudes when my boyfriend casually remarked, ‘that will be easy for Steph, she’s walked up Mount Kenya.’
My heart raced. I started worrying. Had I climbed as high as the mountains in Switzerland? Was I soon going to look incredibly stupid?
I did a quick Google. And the answer impressed everyone.
Suddenly the mountains of Switzerland seemed more do-able.
In 2010, I climbed Mount Kenya and reached Point Lenana. I’d saved and fundraised for over a year to be able to go to Kenya on a month’s expedition and I was determined to do everything there to the best of my ability.
We were aiming to get to Point Lenana, which reaches 4,985m or 16,355ft. We were warned about altitude sickness and extremely early starts but I was ready.
I remember some of my family asking me if I thought I could do it – concerned that this was the part of the expedition I’d dislike the most; the part that I’d struggle with.
Which made summiting (with no altitude sickness but a very fast heartbeat) all the more amazing.
It was hard, I won’t lie about that.
One of my friends suffered badly from altitude sickness and, as a group, we decided we’d do everything to help her get to the top. I swear that focus kept me going, and also kept me from overthinking how hard it was to lower myself over steep ledges, and how scary it was to walk on paths where you could see down the sheer face of the mountain.
The fact is, I did it. And so did she, despite feeling terrible.
Which is why I believe that sometimes, all it takes is determination to succeed. Sometimes all you need to do, is believe you can do it.
When I told my boyfriend and his family how high I’d walked, I was proud to be able to say ‘I did that’. It’s not a natural thing for me to boast about my achievements, so it’s really all thanks to my boyfriend that it even came out in conversation.
And when they all looked at me, impressed and smiling, I received a massive confidence boost and began to realise that sometimes you have to share your achievements. You have to be proud of what you’ve achieved – particularly when it’s difficult or when others doubt you can do it.
So never stop yourself from believing you can do anything. If we want something enough, and we maintain those positive thoughts, I’m convinced we can get to almost anywhere we want to be.