by Nick Lowary
This post is written as a letter to myself.
A boy left to climb a mountain.
A man returned home.
It’s a tale as old as time. You’ve heard it a million times. Time to internalize it.
You’ve gone through shit. You almost lost your father to alcoholism. Hell, you might have already. You’ve almost lost two family members to suicide. Thank the Lord for modern medicine. You lost your family to divorce. You lost the only girl you’ve ever loved to a dream you had to follow. You lost your sanity for a while because of a concussion.
You’ve lost so much.
And no one else fucking cares.
Scream to the void, sure. Call your friends, tell them how hard it is. Cry yourself to sleep. Call it imposter syndrome. Call it anxiety. Call it whatever the hell you want. The fact of the matter is, no one gives a shit.
No one else is going to come save you. No one is going to fix your problems. No one is going to salve the burns. No one is going to help you get out of your father’s shadow. No one is going to build your business for you. No one is going to get you in shape. No one is going to step into the cage and fight your fight.
And if you crash and burn? If you let down everyone who cares about you? If you turn away the friends who took a chance on you, if you let your mother and brother down? No one is going to save you.
Sure, you’re going to fail. We all do. We all face rejection. We all get turned down, ghosted, let go, fired, broken up with, knocked down, ripped off. We all do. That’s okay. Get the fuck back up and try again.
No one cares how hard it is. Only that you do it.
Your problems – while they may be significant to you – are not what define you. You are not the scared boy in the garage listening to your parents scream at eachother while you watch your brother cry. You are not the confused 16 year old trying to get that girl. You are not the 18 year old college freshman learning how to do laundry and cook. You aren’t the college junior leaving your collegiate athlete career because you’re scared you might fail right when you get the starting spot. You are not the jiu-jitsu white belt losing match after match (remember when you started your career with two wins and twelve losses?). You are not the college senior realizing you don’t want to use the degree you’re about to receive. You are not the 23 year old staring at the wall after your girl left. You are not the kid gaining 15 pounds of fat after a concussion.
Hell, you aren’t even the high school senior getting a 34 on your ACT. You aren’t even the college freshman winning a national championship (You were a redshirt anyway). You aren’t the 20 year old summitting your first mountain. You aren’t the 22 year old calming your brother down after he found your drunk father at the county jail, nor are you the 22 year old calming your mother down after she almost lost both of her brothers in a 24-hour period. You aren’t the jiu-jitsu blue belt on a winning streak spanning three tournaments and four divisions. You aren’t the 23 year old quitting a job to take a chance on a business. You aren’t even the man you were yesterday, carrying an American flag up your twelth thirteenth mountains (yes, you did two in a day) in celebration of Independence Day.
You also aren’t the kid who showed up and said “Buy my coffee!” eleven months ago.
So, who are you?
You’re the man figuring it out. You’re the boy on the side of the mountain, looking at the summit. Probably a false summit. But you don’t care, because you’re going to climb that fucking mountain. You’ve been staring at it your whole life. Every challenge, every success, every exhausted day. It’s all another step up the mountain. You saw the mountain others had climbed, but you also saw another possible peak. You saw a first ascent. You’re taking it. You don’t know if it’ll work, and sometimes you think you need to turn around. Sometimes you find yourself huddled under a rock, weathering a storm, and you think “There were camps on that other mountain. Those people are safe. This storm could kill me, maybe I should turn around.”
You’re the man who doesn’t turn around. You have in the past, but you understand that now and you know why you can’t make that mistake again. You don’t know how hard it’s going to be. You don’t know how impossible it might seem. You don’t know whether you’ll find an easy trail or a cliff of sheer ice. But you do know that the harder it gets, the better the payoff will be. You know you’re going to have to figure shit out. You’ll have to get out from the shadow of your father. You’ll have to quit relying on your mother. You’ll have to quit relying on your friends.
And you know that, but you’re scared. That’s okay. We all are. No one has it all figured out. You took a leap not many people have taken. You’re looking at a mountain that’s never been climbed. But that doesn’t mean that other, similar, harder ones have been climbed.
You aren’t alone.
And by nature of not being alone, you also aren’t special. No one cares about your mountain. They care about their mountain.
So? Help them. Tell them how you’ve made progress on yours. Tell them how to get up a hard section, how to avoid an impossible section. You’re looking at their mountain from a distance; all the better to see their route. And you know what? They’ll do the same.
But they won’t if you don’t help yourself. They won’t help if you don’t give a little back to them.
So, I want you to know this:
Nothing is truly impossible. Nothing is out of reach. You will get it – but only if you deserve it. You’ll make it up your mountain, but only if you have the balls and the grit to do it. Developing those is just part of the journey. Accept your failures, your shortcoming. Admit your faults. And then the next step – work on them. Bring them up to speed. Don’t ignore them, as you have been so apt to do in the past. Ask for help, and then actively put that help to use. You’re not the boy you were. You aren’t the man you were.
You’re the man you are today. It’s up to you to show me who that is.
That’s the American Dream.
Originally published at NicholasLowary.com