Tales of the Trails – Mt. Whitney Edition Pt. 3

I usually don’t write about personal challenges I face at the time I’m going through them. I wait until after I’ve been through and made it out on the other side before sharing my story. Well, this time, I’m doing things a little bit differently. I’m writing this while I’m right smack dab in the middle of a whirlwind of uncertainty and stress. After all, what good would it do for someone who needs to know that they are not alone in facing a life challenge if I don’t allow myself this transparency?

You may be looking at the title of this post and wondering what facing a life challenge has to do with hiking and, most of all, what it has to do with Mt. Whitney.  Well, if you’ve followed any of my previous posts, you will know that this is what Tales of the Trails is all about.  Mountain climbing of both the physical and allegorical nature are pretty much the same.

Yesterday, I received some very disappointing news regarding a job I had been interviewing for.  I wanted and needed this job badly and seriously believed I had an edge toward securing the position.  I had successfully passed two interviews, but when I reached the final stage of the interview process, I was asked to provide a writing sample to help determine whether or not I was a good fit for the position.

The morning of the second interview, I had a terribly sore throat and knew that meant bad news.  I was determined not to let that ruin the interview, so I drank some hot tea, took my cough drops, and prayed that I would successfully make it through the interview.  I did, but by the time I got home, I was coughing badly and my condition only worsened from there.

Later that evening, I received news that I had successfully made it to the next stage of the interview process and was given the writing assignment.  I decided to put off the assignment until the next day as it was late and I wanted to be as alert and focused as possible.  By that next day, my cold symptoms had worsened considerably, but I tried my best to write something strong.

I worked on the writing sample for three days and nothing I wrote seemed to make any sense.  I was disappointed in what I wrote and I knew it wasn’t my best.  By the third day of writing, I was so sick and even the revisions I made didn’t seem to improve my writing sample.  I had no choice but to send it in.  Then, the waiting game began.  I waited two full weeks of silence to finally get word yesterday that someone else was chosen for the position.

I had never wanted a job so badly.  This was the job that was most aligned with my career goals and I expected to be hired.  When that expectation wasn’t met, I felt awful.  So many negative thoughts ran through my head, such as I’m not good enough, I’ll never measure up, I must not be cut out for this, My writing sucks, There’s just got to be something wrong with me, I might as well just throw in the towel on my dreams.

Rejection is disappointing, no matter what form it comes in.  But when you have your heart set on something and then get rejected by that thing that your heart is set on, all your hopes and dreams can come crashing down before you like an avalanche.  You begin to question whether or not your dreams are valid or whether you should be doing something else.

I was rejected by Mt. Whitney the first time I climbed it back in August.  I was more prepared both physically and mentally the second time, however, I began feeling the effects of a cold coming on a few days before the hike. Knowing the magnitude of the hike, I was tempted to cancel, but I didn’t want to disappoint my friend who had already sacrificed the time in his busy schedule to accompany me on the climb.  I decided to go.

By the day before the hike, I had developed a cough that wasn’t bad, but was enough to cause concern about the hike.  Surprisingly enough, I only coughed once or twice during the 22-hour/mile event and reached the summit of Mt. Whitney and made it safely down without any serious mishaps or illness.  If I had given up and canceled the trip just two days before the hike, I would have missed out on my most epic birthday yet.

I had the time of my life celebrating my birthday on top of the lower 48 states and even met some fellow Switchfoot fans at the summit.  (They are my favorite band.)  I was so happy to have been given a second chance to climb that mountain so much sooner than I had expected.  I’m glad that I didn’t allow a little cold to get in the way of this monumental achievement.

I’m facing a Mt. Whitney-sized burden right now, and the job I thought I was going to get would have greatly eased that burden.  Since I didn’t get that job and I have no other solid prospects on the immediate horizon, I feel crushed and I’m struggling to figure some things out right now such as what to do next.  I’m trying my best to put things in the proper perspective.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was write a response to the rejection letter I received.  Most people don’t respond to them, but I felt like I should.  I didn’t want to and I didn’t know what to say.  Then I thought about athletes after they have lost a game where they laid everything out on the field or on the court. Of course, such a defeat with thousands–sometimes millions–watching must be a terrible blow.  Yet, they approach the team they just lost to after the game and shake hands, give hugs, pats on the back, or breathe congratulatory praises even through sweat, tears and heartache.  That’s good sportsmanship.

I felt that I needed to be a “good sport,” so I sat down and wrote a heartbreaking email.  I kept it professional and friendly and wished him the best.  I even complimented him on his staff and professionalism.  I expressed my continued interest in the company and told him to keep me in mind if and when another position became available.  I didn’t expect a reply, but got one anyway.  He said he would keep me in mind and wished me Happy Holidays.  So, what at first appeared to be defeat turned into a win.

I’m still feeling the sting of defeat, but I believe it will get better.  I have gone through disappointments like this before and it always got better.  Whenever I think of giving up on my dreams, I remember Mt. Whitney and how at first, she seemed like an unattainable goal that was so close, yet so far.  I remember the struggle I faced while making both ascents and how even during the most challenging parts of the climb, I smiled and greeted every single person that crossed my path on the trail and maintained a good attitude.

I remember the nice gentleman that said to me in the middle of the grueling 97 switchbacks, “Your smile is going to get you to the top of that mountain.”  And finally, I remember how I conquered Mt. Whitney on my birthday, while I had a cold and felt like I was down for the count just days before the hike, and how I celebrated in epic fashion and made it down safely to tell about it.

There is a song by a prominent singer/songwriter that gives me great courage and inspiration in times like this. The artist is Michael W. Smith and the song is called “One More Time.”  It goes like this:

There always seems to be a door that you can’t open
There always seems to be a mountain you can’t climb
But you keep on reaching
You just keep on reaching

When your destiny is out there in the distance
And the road ahead’s a mine field in disguise
And you keep on moving
You just keep on moving

You will make it through this
Just give it time
You gotta give it time

This is what you’re made for
Standing in the downpour
Knowing that the sun will shine
Forget what lies behind you
Heaven walks beside you
You got to give it one more try
One more time

You just keep on reaching
You just keep on, you keep on moving

When the shadows fall on everything you’re dreaming
When the promises turn out to be a lie
You just keep believing
You just keep believing
Oh, don’t stop your dreaming
It’s gonna be alright
It’s gonna be alright
You’ve got to keep on reaching
Keep believing
It’s gonna be alright

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2 thoughts on “Tales of the Trails – Mt. Whitney Edition Pt. 3

  1. My beautiful sister, thanks for sharing this. There is certainly purpose to this rejection and you will see it soon, in Jesus’ Name! Keep trusting, keep believing, for God has something up His sleeve! Oh…and keep smiling 🙂

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