CANADIANS WHO STANDOUT – DARRYL POLLOCK (38/150)

I was born with a severe heart defect and shortly after had major heart surgery. I’m in fine health now, but to be on the safe side, my heart will be monitored every year for the rest of my life.

All my life I’ve felt a little held back physically, but as a born and raised Calgarian living by the Rockies, I’ve always had an interest in extreme and mountain sports. I try to hike, snowboard, surf, and rock climb as much as I can. Taking part in these activities is always a great challenge for me and I often feel self conscious about how hard I have to struggle to do them, but I really wish someday to hike and climb mountains so I persevere and tell myself that I’m not held back at all.

Recently on a hike at Grassi Lakes near Canmore, I hit a wall. I had to admit that I’m held back physically more than the little bit I tell myself. It was a hard realization to make.

The trail at Grassi Lakes is a very easy hike almost anyone can do, but I found myself stopping to catch my breath far too often. I watched seniors, toddlers and obese people pass me. As the frustration built, I felt tears well up in my eyes. I thought that after so much struggling to get in shape, I never seem to get any further. I wanted to give up on this hike and turn back.

“Who cares if it has only been 10 minutes? I should just give up this mountain stuff. I can’t do it. Not now and not ever,” I thought.

Luckily for me, my boyfriend was with me. Even though I was trying to be aloof and cool, he saw my frustration and tears and assured me that it was ok. He’d be there beside me even if it took us all day to get to the lakes. We took our time and walked at a snail’s pace and eventually his positivity and support got me to the lakes. And even to the service road above the lakes so we could see the spectacular view.

I’m glad I didn’t give up at Grassi Lakes and the story has a happy ending, but the experience was still a big struggle for me and pretty painful at times. I never like to show my vulnerability, especially in situations akin to this one, but the support of someone truly caring was what got me through. This experience showed me that sometimes opening up would garner you great supporters, which is so much better than struggling alone.

I’ll continue to strive for my goal of doing a real hike up a real mountain someday, but along with this, I’ll also most definitely struggle through pain and become so frustrated with myself I’ll want to give up all physical activity forever. But even in these times, I know deep down that all I can do is my best and I won’t give up until I reach my goal. It may just take a little longer and be a little slower.

27I created an Instagram account where people can follow my struggles through trying to adventure in the mountains. It’s been a fun journey so far. Check it out: @darepo

We have 112 SHOUT OUTS left, if you would like to share your story! This is to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday, so we want to do 150 shout outs on ordinary Canadians that have accomplished extraordinary things or have an extraordinary story. Your photo and shout out will be published with the other 149 Canadians in the July issue! Email us! creativemanager@standoutpublications.com or click HERE for our submission page.

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