How I climbed an 11,000-foot volcano…with anxiety
I’d like to share a story with you…
It was 10pm when my new French friend and I finally sat down to dinner. A gentle breeze wafted across the open-air, second-storey restaurant in one of Ubud’s back alleys. We dined on a simple Balinese rice dish, and tried to stop the resident cat from licking our plates.
“Come climb the volcano!” Moe begged in his thick accent.
I groaned. He’d been pressuring me all day to climb that bloody volcano. We’d met at a cafe that morning, then spontaneously hired motorbikes to ride out to the rice paddies. Every time we stopped, he asked me to hike with him and his female friends.
“Mooooe. I told you. I’m not fit enough. I’ve never hiked a hill, let alone a volcano…”
“It is not so fun without you. Please!”
“When are you going?”
He took a bite of his bolognese and grinned. “It is…at midnight.”
He wanted me to go straight from dinner to…HIKING AN 11,000-FOOT VOLCANO IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?!
Moe was mad.
This was mad.
I was anxious.
Was it a smart idea?
But I went anyway.
I was only a few weeks in to my solo adventure around the world. Not that I’d planned anything after Bali, so I didn’t know then that hiking that volcano would be the start of an incredible three-year nomadic experience. At that time, I was just a naive Australian girl with a backpack, a notebook, and an anxious spirit.
But I said yes.
Because I had to.
I’d packed up my life and gone roaming because I was tired of saying no. Of trimming my wings. Of being boxed into a monotonous routine.
I had to climb that stupid ass volcano.
And I did!
And I nearly died….twice!
Our guide abandoned us. I lost the rest of the group. It was just me and a French girl, at 4am, clinging to the side of a slippery volcano in the pitch black air. With no headtorches. No training. No signs. No shared language. No clue.
But we made it, somehow, to the summit. Just as the sun cracked over the bowl of Bali. A golden sheet rolled out across the waking sky, basking the clouds below in a dreamy glow.
There above the clouds, 3,500 metres above the Indonesian island, I had my moment. My ‘Oh my God, I actually can do anything’ moment. My epiphany that I can put one foot in front of the other, and overcome my fears and anxieties.
‘I can conquer the world!’ I cackled to myself.
That might have been the lack of oxygen.
Anywho, that midnight climb of terror kept me going throughout my travels. It still keeps me going.
Anytime I’m frustrated the drain is blocked, or I’m worried I won’t get any more writing clients, or it feels like the world is caving in…I close my eyes and go back to the summit. To that feeling of limitlessness. Fearlessness. Grit.
I remind myself that I did the unthinkable, the unimaginable. I survived a scary, risky, stupid ascent in a developing country. And then survived the even riskier 6-hour descent back to solid ground.
And if I did that, I can figure out that blocked drain. I can build a successful business. I can work with my anxiety and come out on top.
Maybe even conquer the world! Mwaahahahaaa.
Want more anxiety-busting ideas and inspiration? Check out my free anxiety affirmations and the ‘8 Ways to Worry Less’ checklist.