At some point in our lives, you will likely go through very tough times, and it may feel terrible, painful, pointless and unnecessary. You may not want to experience it. You may resist it and want to move backwards.

The fact is that the maximum growth happens during times of pain, not times of happiness.

Why the growth, you may ask? I am happy where I am. I don’t want to grow at the cost of this pain.

Sometimes you don’t have an option. And always, growth transforms you. It is impossible to go back. You show up differently in the world, and the world sees you differently. You start operating at a higher level.

For possibly the first time in my life, I did not enjoy the hike that I did this weekend.

I hiked up Mt St Helens this weekend. It is a huge accomplishment for me! It was my first volcano hike – a starter hike for any mountaineering that I might do.

This an opportunity opened up for me through a series of amazing serendipitous events. Four weeks ago I did a basic tough hike alone, Mt Si. I was able to do the pace required by most Meetup groups, so the very next weekend I went with a Meetup group for a snow hike in leavenworth. There I met people that had an extra permit and were going on this hike. I couldn’t use an ice axe, but there was a training Meetup last weekend, which I went to. So this weekend I could join this hike! Incredible how it all worked out, step by step, so smoothly! How insanely lucky I am!

Finding the right group of people transforms everything. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that I would hike up Mt St Helens in the snow so soon. It happened only because I went on the Meetup hike to Leavenworth, where I met many people who were going to do this hike. It created the belief in my head that I can also do it.

On this hike we walked extremely fast in the beginning, starting at 3 am. I would have never walked fast on my own. Because of the group I pushed myself much more and built that strength much faster.

The place was phenomenal. The views were incredible. But I missed them. I was in too much pain. I was too worried about the steep glissade back. My Meetup group members were much faster, and even though there were many other people hiking up, I felt alone. I didn’t know how to pee after the tree cover disappeared, so I stopped drinking water and I was dehydrated. I wanted to go back many times. I had not expected the hike to be as hard as it was. At one point I felt tears. I eventually got cramps and every step up was a pain. It felt endless. Even though I logically knew that there was a summit, it felt like we will be hiking up for the rest of our lives.

When I reached the top I didn’t feel happy. I mean I did, of course, that it was over, but I couldn’t enjoy it very much. I was in pain and the steep glissade back was scary. And I was too exhausted to be happy. Or to look at the incredible views or even take photos. The photos taken on this post are by other Meetup members.

My Meetup members were angels. The organizer made me feel instantly better by telling me he will tandem glissade with me for the first part. Two other members massaged my cramps till they disappeared! Like magic! My pain was gone! I felt completely supported.

Keep pushing through your struggles, even if you feel alone at that moment, help is all around you. Human beings are truly amazing and kind. We are wired to help. You just have to reach out and ask for it. Sometimes that help may arrive after people see that you have made a sincere effort. Then you will get support you didn’t expect, and everything will change.

I was pain free on the way back. I pushed through the glissading fear over and over, through many steep slopes. This helped cut down hiking time by a great deal. But I still missed the beauty of it. We were walking super fast and I was still exhausted.

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Because I can see the benefit of it. I know that next time I will be faster and stronger.

In this case the benefit was very clear. In your current situation the benefit might not be that clear. It is still there, though! Tough situations almost always make us stronger.

Build that discipline muscle. It is what makes all the difference. Start with doing five minutes of whatever you find difficult. Make it your must. Be determined. Ask for help, and if you don’t get it right away, keeping slogging through that climb. Don’t give up, even if it feels hard and you’re not enjoying it at that moment. Of course, be safe! Use your intuition to guide you if you’re giving up because you’re afraid or because you need to learn more skills before doing it.

Eventually you’ll see the summit, and you’ll find help, and the rest of the way will be much smoother. Then, after a few days of rest, you will carry that pride with you for the rest of your life and talk about it with your friends and family forever! 🙂 And you will pave the way for the next big step of your life. Now that I have rested, I feel immense pride that I did it. And immense gratitude to my Meetup members for their support and company.

I probably could have handled this situation much better. I probably could have enjoyed it more. I forgive myself for not doing that. Because I did it, and next time I will definitely enjoy it more. I have learned many lessons.

Sure, this situation was easier because we know there is a summit. We can clearly see the benefits of pushing through. For many tough situations in life, we can’t see the summit. It truly feels endless. But here is the kicker. There is always a summit. Life will always turn around. Don’t let pain scare you away! Accept it and embrace the immense growth and learning behind that pain. Who knows, you might even learn to enjoy the process and appreciate the hidden gems you find along the way!