I’m a cautious person by nature; temperamentally ill-suited for risk-taking. Knowing this, you might say that quitting my job, relinquishing my apartment, and hitting the road were all a wee bit out-of-the-ordinary for me.
But I couldn’t not. Because ‘carpe diem’ and all that.
Prior to this new way of life, I had spent months scrolling through Instagram seeing “alpine babes” and “mountain ladies” and “wandering women” hiking and climbing and posing perfectly in nature. These girls looked similar to me with their Lululemon yoga pants and their manicured nails, but out there in nature, away from the confines of an office, they seemed so much calmer and happier than I felt.
So I followed in their footsteps and took to the woods!
But, here’s the thing.
No one warns you about the sheer terror you feel each time you head into the wilderness alone. From the comfort of your couch, you can try to wrap your mind around it and give yourself pep talks to boost morale, but still, your knees will quake and your heart will race and your palms will sweat each time your hiking boots first make contact with the loamy forest floor.
Why am I so afraid?
Well, here’s the deal. On even the best day, I am not the most capable woman.
I don’t know how to change a tire or jump a car battery or properly read a map. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that when Google gives turn-by-turn directions to my destination, I still regularly screw up the route. I’m a feminist’s worst nightmare.
Honestly, there’s lots I can’t do.
I never learned how to orient myself according to the sun. I haven’t ever purified my own water. I’m unable to protect myself from an aggressive wild animal.
If shit hits the fan while I’m out here on my own… I’m fucked.
But then, here’s the thing: each day I don’t die — every time I emerge from the woods dirty, thirsty, perhaps a bit bruised, I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. Each trip where I’m not murdered by a lone woodsman or attacked by bears or sickened by giardia-ridden water is a win that is fully and completely mine. I don’t have to share that achievement with anyone else.
There’s no photographer or film crew thirty yards behind me making sure I don’t eat a poisonous mushroom or walk off a cliff. And, I don’t have an Instagram Husband or boyfriend or dog protecting me. Heck, I don’t even have a reliable GPS app to point me in the right direction.
This is all on me.
So yeah, I’m scared. My life depends on me not screwing this up. But that’s the thrill. That’s why I’m out here.
And hopefully, with time, the fear will fade.