You are a climber at the bottom of a mountain. It is a clear, sunny Tuesday with a slight westward breeze. With no clouds in the sky, you can see the top of the mountain. You envision yourself trudging over boulders and fallen trees on your way. It is straining, but you are driven to get to the top. No one knows what the peak will look like because this mountain has never been climbed. You are the sole explorer going where no one has gone before.

Deep down, you know you will fall. You know there are going to be times when it’s easier to turn back and climb down the mountain. That path is charted and is in your comfort zone. But why? You’re the pioneer of this mountain. Don’t be afraid. What would the world look like if Edmund Hillary did not conquer Mount Everest? You turn back around and head back up the mountain.

After what feels like years, you reach the summit. Looking back, you realize there was no way to envision what the future would hold. You see the path that you have traveled and it is littered with obstacles. You charted around them, found an alternative route, and kept moving forward. All of these obstacles compiled into something beautiful. They mark your greatest struggles and greatest accomplishments. The view is beautiful. This mountain is your life.


When graduating college, it is impossible to see where you will be in a year, five years, or even retirement. We are all guilty of looking to the future and trying to see the peak, but ignoring the path there. One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Washling. It reads, “Those at the top of the mountain did not fall there”. I have always admired this quote because I have moments of self-doubt and uncertainty when think of the future.

Am I smart enough? Am I really qualified for my position? What if I fail? This quote grounds me. We will never get to the top of the mountain if we let these fears control us. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first men confirmed to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They knew the risks at the bottom of this mountain, but went for it anyway.

Life is hard and we know there are going to be cliffs to jump, barriers to climb, and obstacles to navigate but we must not stop living. It is impossible to fully plan for the future and avoid the bad things, so why sit around and worry about them?  Get out there and enjoy life. Climb your mountain and do not let the obstacles scare you. Sir Edmund Hillary once said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”.

By Jonah Niedermeier



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