What does it mean to be aiming high? See, we aim differently, both on a personal and professional level, and we have different perspectives on what the “top” looks and feels like. That’s what makes each of our journeys unique.
My journey to the top started from the moment I decided to come to London in an internship program, to finding myself hiking the highest mountain in Wales; taking the long hike as a chance to find an answer to this important question.
A suitcase stuffed with winter clothes and a heart open to all kinds of adventures were the only things I needed to find an answer to that.
The internship experience
On October 28, I accepted a job offer in London. I packed my suitcase and I was fully prepared for the unknown. I came here to London as a part of the London Internship Program, provided by MISK Foundation and managed by Capital Placement.
The program’s main aim was to facilitate cultural exchange and help over 100 Saudi youths to learn about British working culture and prepare themselves to enter the workforce.
There were various activities along with the internship program, and a weekend trip to the countryside was something I was planning on doing since the day I reached the city. As it turned out, I’d manifested it in the best way!
A trip to Wales
Niran, the Co-Founder of Capital Placement, is an adventurous traveller, and he planned a trip to Wales to hike Snowdonia on one of the weekends. The intent was to escape from city life and visit the countryside. Many interns, myself including, from the London Internship Program joined him.
He wanted to encourage us to push our limits and see if we were able to deal with our emotions and thoughts on our way up. Niran sees hiking as a challenge for oneself to deal with whatever thoughts come up and whatever emotions arise along the way. Interestingly enough, on our way up, we all experienced that.
Three cars, 15 interns and lots of anticipation — that’s how I can describe the road trip. I didn’t know the interns who joined me on this trip that well, but that’s what made the experience more exciting — the opportunity to be with people I didn’t really know, in a place I’d never visited before, hiking a route I’d never taken.
It made the journey more interesting. There were lots of unknowns, and as a person who’s comfortable with the unknown and sees it as a chance to discover infinite possibilities, it made it the perfect trip for someone just like me.
From being eager to hear each other’s songs to getting impacted by each other’s thoughts, we sang together and shared personal experiences about life. We bonded in a way that made none of us want to sleep during that journey.
The trip taught me that whenever one wants to achieve something or aim higher than usual, one must surround themselves with people with the same amount of ambition and love for life.
To aim high is something, but to believe that there are things you haven’t seen or experienced in life yet is something else. So, we must always have the right people joining us on our journeys to the top!
We had breakfast before we started the hike, but before breakfast was served, we met a local sitting on his own. He got interested when he found out that we were from Saudi Arabia.
We talked about the differences between life in London and in the countryside and who it makes us become. What I noticed about the people in Wales was that they are friendly, social and open to conversations with you at any time.
We later got some lunch for the hike and then headed to the mountains.
Before starting the hike, Niran gathered us to deliver some rules and explained the route in detail. We chose a route that seemed suitable for everyone, with less climbing and more walking.
Everyone’s backpack was fully packed with their lunches, snacks and bottles of water, with Niran giving more instructions and assigning each one a role during the hike. At last, we were ready to start hiking.
On our way up, we met a couple walking their way to the mountains. They asked me if we were students, what we were doing in Wales, and if we were willing to climb to the top. We talked about the program and the changes back in Saudi.
One thing they were surprised by was that we weren’t used to the cold or hiking in the cold, but we were willing to make it to the top. We said our goodbyes and then completed our journey.
On our way up, though, it started to get much colder and there was still quite a bit of climbing left to do. Niran kept making sure that everyone was following the pace, and we had breaks whenever it was possible.
But even with the rest, it was a little bit challenging to climb against the wind and deal with the changes in weather. One question kept repeating in my mind like a mantra during that climb: why do people go on hikes?
It was a rollercoaster of a journey. I felt excited at first, then a little bit frustrated when I got tired. I felt anxious when I couldn’t keep up with the pace and confused when I couldn’t figure out which path I should take.
I felt some calmness and experienced some joy, some amusement looking at my surroundings, and some fear when I was gonna slip. The emotions were higher than usual, but going back wasn’t an option.
Niran kept saying “There is no way back”, and I felt that he kept saying it to remind us that we were aiming high, so how could it be possible to give it all up and just head back home?
Whenever we thought that we’d reached the top, we realised that we were wrong. I saw 15 people challenging themselves hard to reach the highest peak.
Some were laying on the grass, some trying to figure out their own path, some rested for a bit more, and some said that they cannot do it anymore. It was challenging to manage the barrage of negative thoughts: “Why am I doing this? I’m not as good as the others. I will never reach the top.” Then, we proceed to prove all of these thoughts wrong.
See, we all experience similar thoughts when we start a career — the feeling of being lost, being compared to others, and doubting yourself. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to just keep going.
At the top, I saw people jumping between rocks smoothly and confidently, choosing their own paths and trying to figure things out themselves, and it made me think: what if we can accept the confusion that comes with not knowing which stone to step on and the uncertainty of which route to take to reach the place we desire, and instead own the flexibility to change the route when necessary?
In the end, we managed to find another route and make it to the hostel. We dragged our sore bodies to the comfort of our abode, cooked and ate together before heading to our bunk beds, and slept till the next day. After the hike, we felt courageous, as if we feared nothing. We knew that by challenging our thoughts and understanding our emotions, we’d be able to reach better places in life, and that’s what the hike was all about. We ended up hiking 800 metres of Snowdonia mountain and reached the first summit.
So, what does it mean to aim high?
To me, it means that you are a person who’s willing to deal with their emotions as they arise, and track their thought patterns when they interrupt, to make it easier on you to keep going.
What I learnt from this Snowdonia hike is that it’s possible to achieve even the most difficult of dreams, if only we give ourselves the chance to try them out and stay determined — even through the difficult moments.