As we go through life, we grow from our mistakes and learn from different experiences. Just like everyone else, I’ve both succeeded and failed at many things. Sometimes the take away isn’t the most obvious, but in the end every obstacle shapes us into who we are. I am the person I am today because of experiences I've had by myself.
I had always loved the outdoors, camping with my family and going on small hikes with my friends, but it wasn’t anything I ever really pursued. After high school, I had more time on my hands between break and time after class. I went hiking with friends, but I realized that they weren’t quite as into it as I was and I had a hard time convincing people to come with me. I found myself not able to do the things that I wanted to do because of this.
At that time, I was absolutely terrified of hiking by myself and secretly afraid of being in the woods alone, especially in the dark. My parents and friends told me it was dangerous to venture out hiking alone, especially through the Adirondack High Peaks where you can easily get lost, but I heard none of it. I knew that I had this passion that I wanted to pursue, and no one was going to stop me. One day I decided to go alone, and it was at that moment that my life had changed forever. I won't lie to you, I was absolutely petrified. I stared down with my headlamp only illuminating my feet so I couldn't see the shadows in the dark. I always wore my headphones to block out any noise that the woods made knowing that I would panic if I heard anything and I was constantly whipping my head around to see if someone or something was following me. Somehow, I was able to forge on and ignore the fears I had because reaching the summit made everything worth it.
After a while, I began to be more comfortable venturing into the dark, sometimes at 3:30am to chase down a summit. I learned how capable I was, testing my limits and in the process learning that they were a lot higher than I had thought. I became more sure of myself, more confident in who I was because I was accomplishing all of these feats on my own. I liked being a lone wolf, and began to prefer it that way because I became addicted to challenging myself and learning what I could do. I noticed that even within my everyday life, I was sure of who I was and others began to notice too.
After a few years of solo hiking, I've learned to love who I am and who I am becoming. Away from the noise of life, I have time to think about the bigger picture realizing how tiny my problems are in the larger scheme of things. I come back home refreshed with a clear mindset about what I want to do and who I want to be. I'm addicted to doing the things I'm passionate about and I have fallen in love with who I am. Exploring outside my comfort-zone gave me a new found confidence and I will never be the same because of it.