In the summer of 2016, I trekked on foot from an altitude of 840m to the top of one of the world’s highest mountain pass (Thorang-La in Nepal) at 5416m and back down.
I did it alone with everything I owned on my back, without any prior trekking experience, covering around 150km on foot in 12 days, with 2 days of rest in between.
There are many reasons why I did that and how doing it changed my life. But first, I should explain why everything I own fits in a single backpack. A year ago in April 2016, I gave away almost everything I own, managed to fit all my belongings in a single 50 Litre backpack and left Goa, India with 200$ to my name.
I realized that even though I’m still figuring life out, a life full of unnecessary things wasn’t what I want. That’s why the idea of minimalism (my favorite blogger in minimalism is Joshua from Becoming Minimalist) resonated well with me. A life of experiences over unnecessary things.
Society was telling me to “get a degree, get a good job that I might not even like, invest in mutual funds and when you are old and dying then retire and you can enjoy life”. No, thank you!
I have read so many stories of people who quit their jobs to travel the world, why couldn’t I do that? Like seriously, I asked myself the question, Why can’t I do that? Society labels people like that “Lucky” the same way I get called that now, as I’m one of them. Also, why wait? Why waste 4 years of my life for a piece of paper that I never plan on using?
After dropping out of college at the age of 18, I learned to build websites off YouTube and Google, I was barely making ends meet by building websites for cafes and hotels. I ended up saving a little bit and set out on this trek.
The trek was incredibly hard, especially having everything I owned on my back which was around 15 kgs at that time. I could’ve left my stuff in a locker back in the city for free but I realized that the trek was what I needed to make me understand what I really “need” and what I carry around with me because I “want”.
I live my life by the “If I don’t use something for 2 weeks, I give it away” and then trek was perfect to ingrain that idea into my being. I wanted my life to be filled with more incredible things like climbing mountains and less about buying things I didn’t need, to impress people I didn’t even know.
I wasn’t a healthy kid growing up, I spent half my childhood in and out of hospitals. From severe asthma to skin diseases, I was a very sick kid.
Sometime around the age of 16, I took my health into my own hands, did my own research, stopped believing the excuses I used to hear from family like “I’m fat due to genetics” and started working out and eating right. By the time I was almost 18, I won a state level title for powerlifting and had a sick bod ?*if I do say so myself*.
The reduction of oxygen with the altitude was very taxing on my lungs as they’re still not as efficient as an average healthy individual’s as they are still recovering my asthma which stopped just 3 years ago so when I was above 5000 meters, with every step I took, I had to take a deep breath! It was a struggle but I kept going.
What kept me going? Self-confidence? Well to be completely honest … growing up I was never had a lot of confidence, I was bullied for most of my childhood. I was the shortest and weakest kid growing up, also I couldn’t pronounce the letter “R”, which is a little hard to avoid what your name is JeRemy, haha! So yeah school was rough, to say the least.
Almost on a daily basis, I get emails from strangers from all over the world who tell me how my story inspired them and how this blog changed their lives, but for most of my life until recently I doubted myself, never voiced my beliefs and opinions mainly because people always told me that I couldn’t. My entire life I had people always pointing out my flaws, just like I’m sure most people reading this had … from teachers calling me stupid for not being interested in the crap that would never help me in the real world, to me doubting my own self.
I kept climbing and kept pushing because I told myself that if I could do this, if I could push through, maybe I could do anything. I had to prove to myself that I could do it, prove that other people’s beliefs about me do not have to become my reality. The feeling on reaching the top was honestly indescribable in words, and having done it with everything I own on my back, from my laptop to my birth certificate and other documents was the most freeing feeling. I’m not sure if I’m the first person to ever do something like this, I doubt but I don’t really care… the journey has already changed my life.
One of the biggest lessons I learned is my about my relationship with stuff, you don’t need the latest iPhone or a Rolex, you might want them and that’s fine but you don’t need it. I’ve been living out of a bag for a year so far and I don’t think you really need a lot of stuff to truly enjoy life.
Since I climbed the mountain pass, to now nearly a year later as I finally had some time to connect the dots looking back, I’ve led the most adventurous year of my life (so far!). I’ve been travelling the full time, lived in 6 countries, met the Dalai Lama, learnt to surf in Sri Lanka, built this blog which now covers my expenses, started working with companies doing what I love, got featured in a magazine, camped and trekked the mountains of Northern India while being off the grid for a month, rented my own apartment for a month in Vietnam, hitchhiked across Cambodia and visited the magnificent Angkor Wat and so so many other amazing tales.
Why did I write this article after nearly a year of climbing the mountain pass? Because there’s always a story behind every person whose articles you share on Facebook. Every time I write for other publications or see articles about people doing stuff like this, readers just want to hear the glamorous stories of the amazing travels and want to see sunsets at the beach. The self-doubt felt by every single person is rarely published. Everyone we aspire to be is human and doubts themselves sometimes and what they stand for.
“Roll up on that cute girl in the bar and ask her out!
Roll up on that good looking guy at the coffee shop and ask him out for coffee!
Roll up on your business idea and make it happen.
Because being 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and having regrets that you didn’t swing the bat is the worst regret of them all”
I wrote this because I wanted to write about WHY, why I did what I did. So why did I climb one of top 3 highest mountain pass in the world with everything I own? Because I knew that experience would help me grow as a person. I’ve been called brave, confident and so many other labels for doing what I did a year ago, “Dropping out to travel the world” here’s something few people know … I have social anxiety, I get afraid and anxious in front of crowds, most of the time we like to label people with certain things so we can justify why they are able to do something.
Each person is just an accumulation of his/her genetics and life experiences. So whether it’s asking that cute girl/guy out on a date, or climbing a mountain, you just got to try, push yourself out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown. I mentioned social anxiety before, so how do I plan on making that go away or reducing it?
Well if you go to the services section of this blog you will notice that I added speaking because over the next decades (Yes, Decade! I look at life as a marathon, not a sprint) I plan on speaking at keynotes. I’m obviously going to end up starting small and growing it over the years, but the journey of becoming a public speaker is definitely going to help me be more confident with crowds and might help my anxiety.
As I said, you are an accumulation of your genetics and experiences, one of those two things are out of your control, I can’t control that I’m usually the shortest guy in the room, I can’t control that I can’t say the letter “R”(it’s a lot better now though lol), I can’t control that many people are cynical towards me as “I’m just a dumb 19-year-old”, what I can control is how I react to each one of those things, I can control my future experiences, so whether it’s giving many speeches to build up a reputation or continuing travelling the world and learning new things, each experience and person you meet makes you the person you become, so pick wisely.
Read next: Lessons Learnt From Living Out Of A Backpack!
I believe you have to love the journey of overcoming your demons, when I say that I want to speak, I’m more excited to try to become a speaker! Why? Because in the process I’m going to meet a lot of great people, push myself out of my comfort zone of writing and embrace the unknown.