One Foot Forward

One Foot Forward

Just keep going George. Carry on putting one foot forward and the other will always follow. 

I keep looking down at the ground and just watching my feet move heavily over the rocks and snowy path. The sound of my deep breathing fills my head and I can feel my chest trying so hard to catch my own breath. I start rolling my eyes and telling myself to keep moving my fat arse forward.

The only way out of this is to keep going. There are so many good people around me. I can feel Al move quietly behind me, just making sure I’m still moving forward. A guardian. My eyes fall onto Elliot’s feet in front of me and I follow his footsteps with my own. He’s leading a good path for me to go down (and up. How the hell are we still walking upwards?). 

One foot forward. 

The other will always follow. 

I did a thing. 

This amazing thing. I went to Everest Base Camp. Trekked for 9 days to get there and then 4 days to get back down again. Not only that, but we went off season like the psychos that we are. It was the best two weeks of my life: although at the time it felt like the worst two weeks of my life. It was cold all the time and the toilets were a hole in the ground. When we were greeted with a beautiful porcelain throne, it was frozen so we could only flush it manually by using a metal tin to crack the layer of ice that sat on top of a bucket of water and pour it down the toilet bowl.

Matt described it all perfectly as Groundhog Day. You’d wake up cold, use a frozen toilet, get annoyed at your frozen bottle of water, eat food you were sick of, take painkillers for the altitude headache, walk for 7 hours on Nepali flat (spoiler: it was never flat) and then be cold in the evening and eat more food you were sick of. Oh and you couldn’t shower or wash your clothes so everyone stank. 

Every day it was the same. 

But also, it wasn’t. We played cards, we laughed, we drank hot chocolate, ate out of date sweet treats, we laughed more. Every day we laughed and shared stories. Gemma constantly motivated me every morning that we could do it. We took photos and just sat in awe of the mountains around us. 

Every single day it was just a case of one foot forward. The outside world didn’t exist anymore. 

On day 9 we made it. We got to Everest Base Camp. We gazed upon the big spray painted rock which emulated the journey we had just finished, only to realise we had to turn around and go back. 

But we did it. 

This thing I said I would do. This thing that so many men tried to mansplain to me and tell me I couldn’t do; I did it. 

I achieved this awesome, kind of badass thing.

Until I didn’t.

Coming home was a shock because it just reminded me how we fall into these societal expectations of us.

Suddenly, I hadn’t achieved this awesome, kind of badass thing because I am still single. I don’t have children. I’m not engaged or married or pregnant. I still work a low paid job that people look down on. 

I am not what is expected of me therefore my awesome, badass achievement doesn’t matter anymore. 

Coming home to messages about other people’s kids, engagements, weddings, bought houses with partners… those were things I was meant to be celebrating. Those were the messages that dominated and none asking how my trip was. None celebrating this cool thing I had done. 

I got the inevitable “why are you still single? Why don’t you go and find yourself a nice man?” 

I’m single because my ex out of the blue decided I wasn’t good enough for him to continue loving me. I’m still single because I want to be. Find myself a nice man? Point them out to me! Any I find that I’m attracted to or have anything in common with tell me they don’t want to date anyone. They’re scared to put themselves out there but apparently it’s my responsibility to find one. It’s a pointless exercise right now looking because I want more adventure and I don’t want to waste my time being somebody’s therapist. 

I’m still single because I wanted to go to Nepal and do this awesome, kind of badass thing. If that is something I have to celebrate with the amazing people I met there, then I’m glad I met them to celebrate it with. They were all amazing, kind of badass people that I’ll forever be grateful to because they were there. 

They didn’t have societal expectations of me. 

We just spent two weeks laughing. I wasn’t the friend who didn’t follow the path I should have followed. I was one of them who followed a path on undulating Nepali flat, over rocks and ‘icy icy’ to the Base Camp of the highest mountain in the World. 

Can we start normalising the celebrations of achievements that women have that don’t include societal expectations? I’m over the moon for my friends who have babies, get engaged and married. The ones who buy houses with partners and go on couples group dates. I couldn’t be happier for them. 

But I am here rooting for those who climb mountains, the ones who leave toxic relationships, the ones who got a haircut and wore a hot outfit just because it made her feel good. I’m here for the achievements where the people who have the kids and marriage and houses say to their single friends congratulations too. 

Some days since being home I’ve wished I was back on the side of a mountain moaning about the cold with the people I hope I never lose touch with. 

Kyle summed it up pretty perfectly in saying 

“Type 2 fun is a strange beast. It isn’t actually fun at that moment. In fact, it feels much like suffering.

It’s only after the event, and in reflection, that you come to realise that you actually had fun”.

I feel like that sums up times being single too. At the time, it feels like the World is telling you that you’re failing and suffering and you long to find someone. But on reflection, you realise you had fun. So, you’re achieving some great things even if they don’t fit societal norms. 

Have fun. You’ll get wherever you want to be. 

And just one foot forward.

The other will always follow. 

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