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Do you have any words of wisdom for adventurers who want to take on a challenge, especially one as daunting as the one you write about in Solo? 
The thing that I know for sure is that you are tougher than you think you are. We are all so great at underestimating ourselves and letting our fears hold us back. I can’t guarantee you’ll succeed – but I know you’ll find out you’re made of more than you realised!

You demonstrate so much bravery. Do you have any advice for being brave for people to whom this doesn’t not come naturally?
I think of bravery like a skill – the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Seek challenges that are just slightly beyond your comfort zone, and over time you will move the edge of that zone further and further out. Everyone has bravery in some form – you just have to work on it!

You write about approaching hard things with manageable bites. Could you explain a little more about your process?
A lot of long distance runners use this trick. Don’t think of the whole marathon – think about the section to the next aid station. There’s no point worrying about the final stretch if you don’t focus on getting through the middle parts first!
Writing a book, I found, was very similar. The whole task was incredibly intimidating, but taking it chapter by chapter, it’s easier to calm my anxiety and just focus on the present task. I’ve applied the same method to living in a pandemic – just take it week by week, month by month. 

In Solo you describe how you met many people during your time in Kyrgyzstan. Who had the most profound effect on you and why?
I was offered so much hospitality throughout my journey in Kyrgyzstan, and I’ll forever be grateful for the wonderful people there. About halfway through my adventure, I had a really bad day, and that night I was invited into a yurt to stay for dinner and a warm place to sleep. This is fairly normal in the Tien Shan, but I just remember how the presence of a family, their warmth and generosity, really was the embrace I needed at that time, and completely changed my outlook on my personal adventure. I still always think of them when I’m in a position to offer someone else hospitality – their generosity and kindness deserves to be paid forward for the rest of my life.

The world is opening up again after COVID and its likely people will be having adventures further afield. In your book you describe experiencing post adventure blues, what advice do you have for dealing with them? 
The most important part is to acknowledge that they are very real. A lot of adventures experience some depression after completing a project. Be gentle to yourself and do what you need to work through those feelings, including letting those around you know (this part is hard, especially if you’ve been away from home for some time). I’ve found for me I just need to have another project on the horizon – whether it’s a new adventure, challenge, goal, or my work, just knowing that my life hasn’t lost its focus now that my last Thing is over is really important.

In Solo you determine that self-belief was everything that your first successful expedition boiled down to. Please could you tell us about your journey of developing a strong sense of self belief? 
I have always struggled with self-esteem, and as a young female in an industry dominated by older men, I did face a lot of negativity and doubts about my abilities. I let these get inside my head when I was younger (I’m sure a lot of women can relate!). But when I was out there, all alone, doing something that no man or woman had ever attempted, I realised I really needed to become my own cheerleader. I couldn’t rely on anyone else to do that for me, and without at least one cheerleader, hard things are very hard. What I learned is that no one knows you like you do. If you believe you can do something, then that is everyone in the world who needs to think that. If you don’t believe it, then it doesn’t matter how many other people do.
Mountains are a very real way to learn this lesson – if you don’t believe in yourself enough to be successful, you face genuine physical danger. But I think the processes I went through in the mountains are extremely relevant to everything else in my life, and I use those moments to steer me in any situation.

Jenny Tough is the author of Solo