Jimmy Chin is one of my all-time heroes: a rare combination of a world-class photographer, filmmaker, and elite climber, and just an incredible all-around good guy. Last week, inspired by The North Face's 50th anniversary campaign (see video above), he shared his story on Facebook, one that will deeply resonate with anyone consumed with pursuing an unconventional path despite its challenges and not having the people closest to you understand or support you.
"The second I finished college I headed out west and moved into the back of my car. Climbing and skiing were the only things that gave meaning to me. Nothing else mattered. My parents were devastated that I basically fell off the map and wasn’t pursuing a career. I stopped speaking to them for almost two years because it hurt too much to hear the disappointment in their voices. Other friends from college had gone on to law school, working in finance, or starting companies. I was living in a dank dripping cave behind Camp IV in Yosemite and intercepting half eaten pizzas at Curry Village before tourists could throw them out in the garbage. Not exactly glamorous. Early on, I struggled everyday with the choice I was making. I was filled with doubt, guilt and the burden of letting my parents down. The only thing that kept me going was the joy of climbing, the inspiration of being in the mountains, being with my new found tribe. I sought out the wild ones. The passion for this non-conventional life didn’t diminish, it grew wildly. I only wanted to attempt the absurd. The harder I had to try, the further I had to go, the more intense the expedition, the better. Gradually it became clear, this was not a short-lived rebellion, but a life long pursuit of going all out.
Along with climbing and skiing, photography and filming, became my vehicles to see the world and work with some of the most incredible athletes and creatives in the world. When I didn’t think life could get any more insane, it only accelerated with more work, more opportunities. It’s a completely chaotic lifestyle, but these days, I am still thankful every single day that I stuck it out and committed to taking the leap off the train of convention. I can’t imagine living any life that wasn’t perceived as mad….."
Read the entire Facebook post here. As I've already written about before, although pursuing what you're passionate about may be rife with uncertainty, it's precisely that determination to live a unique life that opens the door for you to succeed in a unique way, as Jimmy has a photographer-filmmaker-athlete. So don't apologize for wanting something crazy. The world needs more people who are willing to "leap off the train of convention" and be unapologetically, passionately mad.