Most of my friends and clients know that I love hiking. The reward involves beautiful mountain vistas and breathtaking wildflowers. But with anything worth doing, there’s always a downside. Mine happens to be falling. A lot. And I’ll even reveal a secret: My nickname is “Stumblina” – bestowed upon me by my concerned but bemused husband as my falling down while outdoors happens so frequently.
So this weekend, after successfully navigating a very deep (and steep canyon) enroute to our campsite on Mt. Hood here in Oregon, the return trip wasn’t as lucky.
After making it all the way back down to the bottom of this monster canyon, I saw some other backpackers looking very tentative about crossing this bridgeless river. They had spent the better part of at least 10 minutes walking back and forth trying to figure out a way across. They hesitated, so our group passed them and crossed. The other three people in my party popped right across the water; it was now my turn. Feeling cocky, I got about three steps across when my left foot slid on a wobbly rock, and I had that sinking feeling that my balance had just evaporated. Falling, I crashed hard into the water and was quickly flopping around among rocks and ice-cold glacial water, totally soaked.
Completely embarrassed and utterly humiliated, I had now just wiped out in front of a number of other hikers. Not so cool now, eh?
So what do you do when you’ve hit rock bottom?
You reach for the nearest tools to start getting out of the situation. In my case, these were my hiking poles, which were in danger of being swept away.
Then, I got out of the river and assessed the situation. No injuries, fortunately. Just a very bruised ego and some minor scrapes and bumps. Then, I pulled myself together, and we continued our hike back to the car.
This situation is really not so different when you’ve hit rock bottom in a job search. You can feel embarrassed, out of control, and hurt.
And it’s ok to hit rock bottom once in awhile. It reminds us that we really are human after all. But like my situation, staying there in that rocky freezing river isn’t a place to linger, so the only way out is to pull yourself together, dust yourself off, and get moving again.
But even more importantly, how you look back over your shoulder and view how you hit rock bottom matters just as much. Do you shrink or recoil from the memory?
Or do you do what I did?
Cheerfully wave at the tentative hikers still on the other side, and yell, “C’mon in, the water’s great!”