Sitting in the Dallas Fort Worth airport, it’s easy for me to reminisce on my past year. So many things have happened – some beautiful, some painful, but all amazing and valuable in their own ways. In February 2018, I was in Ecuador climbing Iliniza Norte and Cotopaxi. In June 2018, I was sucking wind up Denali. In September 2018, I was climbing the highest point in Europe and cursing the snowcats’ names. Now, in December 2018, my eyes are forward and looking to Aconcagua in January.

This year has been so special. I have learned so much about myself — marketing, business, and relationships. This year, especially the last few months, has been so busy with trying to earn money to pay for our Aconcagua climb that I can honestly admit that physically, I am the least prepared I have ever been for a climb. However, I can guarantee that the next month will be spent ensuring the fact that I am ready to summit the highest point in South America.

In the past, my climbs have been for a number of reasons, but I have always had someone there to help me navigate all of the behind the scene aspects. This climb fell completely on me, but I remind myself of the months I spent debating giving this opportunity to David; the moment I surprised him and he sobbed; and the moments I have told David that he has his gear and his flights. I remind myself that my endless hours are to make it REAL for someone else. All of this hard work is paying off – and it is paying off for far more than a personal goal.

I have hustled my ass off for this climb. Coddling current relationships for more support, and hundreds of hours of outreach to find funding, speaking opportunities, gear, and flights. I have gotten used to being told, “no.” As frustrating as it is, I haven’t stopped. I am too stubborn, maybe too stupid to quit.

Last night, I was beyond stressed. I complained to my mother about needing an assistant and questioned why I do all of this. Juggling a speaking engagement to pay my bills, creating grant applications, making a newsletter, and everything in between got to me. So much that I daydreamed about how nice it would be to work a normal 8-hour shift. Then, a video from David comes in – and his appreciation radiated. I do not need any thanks or accolades, but when I can see and feel the emotions of those we are impacting – my heart is so full.

I will work my fingers to the bone to make sure this dream of improving the world becomes a reality. I promise to never stop. No amount of my time, or any paycheck will ever mean more to me than someone’s smile. At 27 years old, it is rare to truly believe you know what your purpose is, but I know mine. People. People are my purpose.