This post isn’t directed at anyone, and isn’t about any one person or situation in particular. It’s about my reflections on my life in the last year, and that is it.
Right now I’m sitting at my tiny table with the hot pink Ecuadorian tablecloth and the little wooden elephants from Bali. I have strong coffee, my door is open and I can hear birds, and Pigeon can hear birds and from his perch on the faded green couch he looks at me longingly. We have trust issues with birds and freedom. You all know why.
Yesterday I submitted another article to Blue Ridge Outdoors. Right now I’m writing an average of 1-2 articles a week for various sources, as well as working full time as an operations manager, biking almost everyday, and maintaining a healthy yoga practice. I still sometimes pinch myself at night, when I’m curled up in my incredibly soft and cozy bed with a snoring Pigeon by my side.
I’m trying to paint a tiny photo of my life for you because I want you to know how crazy I still think it is that this is my life. A year ago I was a completely different person with completely different ideas of what I wanted in life, and a completely different life because of it.
A year ago I felt the pressure to “relax”, “enjoy the moment”, and be content. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think sometimes, especially as outdoor enthusiasts trying to be alternative, we take it too far. We start to look down on ambition, we start to negatively judge and stereotype people whose drive and vision leads them to achieve more than us as “type a’s”. We think of driven people as stifled people, people whose dreams and desire for more make them materialistic and shallow.
I was totally buying into this whole thought process. I resented people who had more or were getting farther in life, I tried to imagine them as unhappy, tight asses. But at the same time I was feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I knew deep inside that I wanted more. I wanted things like a cabin in the woods, a good job, and to make something of myself. I wanted to do and be more than I was.
In my mind of extremes, I was afraid that if I started reaching for more and trying to be and do more, I would no longer be a soulful outdoor enthusiast, I would no longer be sold out to “the dream”. But then I realized, I can only be sold out to a dream if its my dream.
So I started thinking about what my dream is. And how I was going to start getting to it. I realized I wanted to make a career in the outdoor industry, in kayaking specifically. And just because I can’t race my racing heart off Gorilla doesn’t mean I can’t make a career kayaking somehow. I would just have to find another way.
I have always wanted to be a writer, so I took a huge leap and emailed Canoe and Kayak an article pitch and two months later I was a “regular contributor”. I made some connections and now I’ve written for several outdoor magazines.
I traveled abroad, I applied for a job that was scary and big and represented all sorts of grown up “career” things: salary, PTO, etc. And I got the job and then left my comfort zone of Bryson City and moved to a completely new place.
I got on the Kokatat Ambassador team. I wanted to be a mountain biker so I bought the bike and just started going. I wanted to grow my own food so I planted a garden and ate fresh vegetable omelets all summer.
I’m boasting a little bit because I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come in just a year. But I’m also trying to relate how hard it was for me to get comfortable with the idea that I wanted more. It took months for me to be ok with the idea of telling people I wanted more as well. It took me a while to realize I didn’t have to apologize to people for being driven, for having goals and dreams that were bigger than my life, and for doing the hard work it takes to get to them.
The things I wanted weren’t material; I didn’t want a huge bank account, a private jet, a new Mercedes. I wanted a life I was proud to call mine. A life full of bike riding, fresh coffee from local roasters, trips abroad, published articles, and fresh vegetables.
And this feels good. My coffee tastes good, my bed feels good, riding my bike feels good, hitting send on an article feels good, paying for a Grand Canyon permit feels good, and my little attic feels good. It all feels good because I worked hard for it, and I’ve earned it. I created my reality.
I still want more. And I’m ok with admitting that.