Self doubt is nasty friend to have. And yet, we’ve all welcomed this friend into our lives. Finding the courage to overcome it is one of the most freeing and rewarding thing you can do. Ambassador Jessica tells us about her struggle and how she worked to tell self doubt it didn’t belong.

Life is beautiful, and difficult. We all experience happiness and pain, joy and sorrow, accomplishment and disappointment, and my life is no less or more important than anyone else’s. And, like you, I express my emotions, my feelings, my reactions in many different forms. Sometimes verbally, other times internally. I don’t believe there is one right way to be the person I am. The courage to be myself has been a bumpy, confusing, and uncertain journey. There have been countless moments, in dark and lonely times when the path wasn’t clear, and I couldn’t seem to find my way no matter which direction I decided to go.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome is self-doubt. I’ll be honest, for a long time I let others’ words and actions define how I saw myself. Growing up, the outdoors offered a refuge like nothing and no one else could; especially in those moments when harsh comments or uncertainty made me question my beliefs, and the parts of myself that made me whole.

Quiet space spent in solitude that only nature could provide, no judgement, no unkind words, this was the place where I was enough. There is no doubt I had people in my life who loved me, who cared for me, and nurtured me, and I know in part it was their love and kindness that helped shape the person I am now. There were others though who weren’t as caring or supportive, those who questioned what I could become or how I would make my place in this world. And, as a child and younger adult, I came to believe that maybe they were right. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own, maybe I would never fit in. I’d probably never graduate college, or lose that weight, get that job, or hike that mountain. And, when you hear those words enough, you start to imagine they might very well be the truth.

So, why do we let the negative words of others sow the seeds of doubt in our minds? Why do we allow others unhappiness to determine our outcomes? I’d ask myself these very questions, and the answers always seemed to make themselves known when I could step back, and put myself in the space where life made sense; in nature. Where the simple act of walking, the sound of my feet on the earth moving forward brought a sense of knowing and understanding.

I began to realize the courage to be me came from within, and that power belonged to me, not anyone else. I finally understood that the naysayers who forced their self-doubt on me were in fact struggling with their own uncertainties and insecurities, their own unresolved struggles. And, while we should strive to help others, I began to understand we must also help ourselves. We must allow self-care to be an integral part of our lives along with moments of solitude and reflection. Love of self will only ensure we can love and care for others in a positive and empowering manner.

I realize even now, not everyone I know shares in my love of the outdoors or understands why, for me, my best moments aren’t spent inside a shopping mall or glued to a computer screen, but rather they are when I connect with nature. My self-worth comes from knowing that after every breathtaking hike, after every night spent out under the stars, after every journey to an unfamiliar destination, this is when I am the very best, the very strongest, the very most courageous version of me.

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