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STRIVE Morocco Blog: Jeremiah Emmanuel

14 December 2017: posted by BigChange

My heart began to race, my head was pulsating, and my mind was telling me I had done enough. After 100 yards, as I was out of breath, I had to wonder: what had I agreed to be a part of? In an opaque mist of dust and sand from the participants who had overtaken me, I struggled to convince my body to continue as I came to a halt at the back of the group. Only 48 hours before that moment I had been informed of this great opportunity for an adventure; little did I know the blood, sweat, and tears that would follow…

I decided to join the STRIVE Challenge because I wanted to contribute to the amazing charity that is Big Change. It’s definitely more than a physical challenge or a fundraiser “it is an opportunity to bring focus to an important part of young people’s development.” At the age of 18 I never thought I would find myself in the foot hills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, cycling alongside some of the most inspirational entrepreneurs, philosophers, and big thinkers in the world.  But neither did I know it would be the most significant lesson I would learn in my life to date.

Growing up I did believe I could achieve anything I wanted to – my mum instilled this in me from a very young age. However, turning dreams into reality can be a daunting, unknown process. In my world as a young person growing up in Brixton, there was a lack of role models and mentors, and there was no step-by-step guide to success. What I learnt from taking part in this adventure is that you can achieve things beyond your imagination, the one thing stopping you from doing so is yourself!

As I cycled I began to tell myself constantly I needed to stop! I told myself if I continued any longer my legs would fall off, or my hamstrings would rip apart. I was the one, it was me who doubted it would be possible to cycle the 100km distance. And how could I forget the climb to the summit of the Mt Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa that would follow in the days to come.

I realised that all my life I had encountered these thoughts and doubts: within my education, what I felt I could achieve, my ideas and what I thought could be possible, and even my self-development and the things I could have accomplished. I have found myself in many situations in which I have doubted what is possible, my imagination limited me. This is the same story for many of us! Self-belief is an important factor that everyone should hold dearly.

But it was when we made our climb to the summit of the Mt Toubkal on the final day that I reached my tipping point. We began our journey at 2AM and by the time we were halfway up I was struck with altitude sickness and fatigue. But I was reminded and supported by the team around me: that I’ve come so far and I just have to keep on going, “step-by-step”.

I believe many of us forget the importance of a support network, the meaning of teamwork, and supporting others.

There are a number of things I have learnt since my return…

  • Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone

We can find ourselves encompassed in a relaxed and familiar environment that we get used to. This can have a detrimental effect on productivity. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can make a massive difference in your life.

  • Try something new and risky

We sometimes vow to try things because of what we have heard about them. I did hear about the Strive Challenge before – I was told it could make or break me. With this being said I still embarked on the journey and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had!

  • Change your daily routine

An unchanging cycle could be the thing holding you back from achieving your goals. I do believe in structure, however sometimes being stuck in an unstoppable process can remove you from the realities of life. Try living differently to what you’re used to.

  • What are your deepest fears?

Are you not too keen about speaking in front of people, or sharing ideas. Is it tall heights that give you a fright, or something more private. If you stand up to your fears and face them directly, you can overcome them! Team work and the power of perseverance is what got me through what I thought wouldn’t be possible. If I could do this anyone can do whatever they want to beyond their imagination. It all ended with a Big Change in my life.

P.S. I sprained my ankle on the way down so had to ride a mule to the village 🙂