Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: Teresa Lee stops apologizing & climbs a volcano!
“During a trip I took to Central America, I stopped in Antigua, Guatemala and decided to do the backpacking trip up Acatenango Volcano, which has an elevation of over 13,000 feet. I’ve done long hikes before, but never an overnight backpacking trip where I actually needed to carry my own water, sleeping bag, tent, etc. My group consisted of eight people, and I realized I may have been a little out of my league when several of them mentioned they were in the military, but I was determined to keep up. At 5’5” and less than 115 pounds, carrying a pack that was more than a third of my own weight was already more than a bit of a struggle. Carrying that backpack while also climbing thousands of feet up the side of a steep volcano? Well, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
From the very beginning, it was a struggle and I easily fell to the back of the group. A very kind Israeli guy, who, like all Israelis, had served in the Israeli Army, stayed back with me to keep me company and make sure I was okay. My immediate reaction to his kindness was to apologize. I felt bad for holding him back when he clearly could have been leading the group. But just as I was about to apologize, I suddenly thought of two Amy Schumer clips: The first one has several girls meeting up and all unable to take a compliment until one of them simply says “thank you” and walks away. The second one is a panel with several female speakers and they all keep saying sorry to the other for things that don’t need to apologize for. And then it just hit me: I didn’t need to apologize for being slower than everyone else. This wasn’t a race and I wasn’t holding back my teammates. I was busting my butt up a mountain and doing the most physically challenging thing I had ever done. I didn’t ask anybody to wait for me. The Israeli man acted out of his own kindness, for which I was grateful, but I didn’t need to apologize. So instead of apologizing, I just grit my teeth and worked even harder to climb up that volcano.
Finally, when we reached the top, I thanked my new friend and we high-fived each other at the summit. So, my #girlbossmoment wasn’t reaching the top of Acatenango Volcano, but learning not to apologize for being a work in progress. Women often apologize for things they don’t need to apologize for, or use the word “sorry” more as an introduction or to soften what we mean to say. Slowly but surely, I’m going to wipe that word out of my vocabulary unless it’s a situation in which I truly do need to apologize.”
Three pieces of advice for adventure seekers:
1. Don’t try to live up to anyone’s expectations but your own. There will be a lot of pressure from all kinds of people to be a certain way, study a certain major, or live your life in the “right” way. The greatest thing I learned as I got older was to care less and less about what people think. There will even be times when the people who love you the most, such as your parents, will want you to do something that you know isn’t right for you. They mean well, but at the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with your decisions, so make ones you can live with.
2. Never assume you know what someone else is going through. It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but everybody is always going through their own struggle. You don’t know what someone has had to overcome to get to where they are right now, so always try to have empathy.
3. “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” This is one of my favorite lines ever from Conan O’Brien in his goodbye address from The Tonight Show, and I don’t think I need to say anything else, as it pretty much says it all.