A little over a week ago I went back country camping with a friend of mine. It was the most scared I have been in my adult life, and I couldn't be happier I did it...
For those of you who don't know what back country camping is, it is camping in an undeveloped, isolated, and remote part of the woods. We hiked about 6 miles into the wilderness of Shenandoah National Park and set up camp on the side of the trail. We carried everything we needed with us including food, shelter, and water. We slept in hammocks under the stars woke up the next day and hike about 6 miles back to our car and civilization.
When my friend Erika asked me to go with her, I was so pumped. I have camped and hiked before but putting the two together was a new adventure and I couldn't wait. It was a last minute thing, so I didn't have too much time to think about it. Three days after we talked, I had bought all my gear and was headed down to meet her. The first day of hiking was amazing. Fantastic views, natural springs to go swimming in, and hours spent with a good friend. All was right in the world. And when it was time to set up camp and go to bed, I figured I would pass right out from being so tired.
Well, I was wrong. As soon as we laid down and the there was nothing left to do but sit in our hammocks and listen to the forest I started to have some serious anxiety. We hadn't had phone service for the entire day, but right then I realized I couldn't call my husband and that was terrifying. My heart started racing, and my skin felt like I wanted to rip it off. Then I realized that even if I wanted to leave, I couldn't. I was scared. I almost cried. Erika who is very experienced in this kind of camping, and one of my best friends, let me talk it out. She told me it was okay and very normal. And thank God for her, because I don't know if I would have made it through the night without her. So I took some deep breaths, meditated, and was able to fall asleep. The next day we packed up our things and hiked on out of there.
The next few days were a roller coaster of emotion. I was so proud of myself for doing something like that, yet so terrified all at the same time. I wanted to try it again but was scared to. I actually even told Erika I was bringing my gear back to the store at one point. But as my emotions settled and I began to process what I went through, I realized two things. First, I loved it and I want to do it again. And second, that being scared is a good thing.
As adults, we fall into these routines that are comfortable. Which is nice and reassuring, but we very rarely take a step out of them. In fact, most people would prefer to live the rest of their lives in this comfort zone. But if we did that, we would never have new experiences, meet new people, or find new hobbies. I realized that my biggest fear is staying on the path I'm currently on for the rest of my life. Don't get me wrong I am happy with my life, but in my lasts breaths on this earth I don't want to say "I was comfortable". I want to say I tried, I jumped. And maybe I didn't always fly, but you can bet your last dollar I felt alive my whole life.