Wisdom from the Woods: Everything Looks Scarier in the Darkness

I haven’t written in a while. And by a while I mean half a year. I could attribute that to the fact that work has been busy or that I’ve been spending my free time traveling and exploring. These are, in fact, true statements. But the real reason is that I’ve been afraid. WarningSign

Now here’s the funny part – I’ve climbed nine of New Hampshire’s 48 4000 footer mountains this summer for a total of 21 to date, I’ve climbed trails that are on the Terrifying 25 and on the most dangerous hikes in the world list, and I recently hiked a trail that consisted of more iron rungs than rock. I’ve solo hiked in the Alps and gone paragliding in Switzerland. I’m not scared of most things and I love a good challenge. But here I am. Afraid of my own blog. It sounds laughable and it’s true.

Why the change of heart? Well like most things in my life, it goes back to the trail. A few weeks ago I traveled to Acadia National Park to camp and hike for the weekend. It’s a long drive so I decided to stop and camp along the way. This was my first time ever camping alone so I had a solid plan. I found a nice family campground close to a major town, I booked a site not too far from others, and I planned to sleep in my car instead of my tent since I would be getting there well after dark. I was ready! Except I wasn’t. Everything is scarier in the darkness.

I arrived past sunset to realize the main road in was closed for construction. After navigating some windy, twisty, and dark back roads (thank you GPS!), I located the campground. All the staff had left for the night so I used the map to navigate my way through the confusing maze of gravel campground roads. Finally, I found my site! I set up camp in my car and settled down for the evening. Of course, not before setting off my car alarm by accident (sorry neighbors!). None of the sites around me were booked. In the darkness, even with my headlamp, it looked and felt remote. When I’m with other people I welcome this silence. Alone, I was nervous.

After tossing and turning, I’m embarrassed to say that I started looking up hotels on Yelp. But I was determined to do this. I listen to a lot of the She Explores and Women on the Road podcasts, I just needed to channel my inner adventurer. If you know me, you know that I’m incredibly tenacious. I could do this. I can do hard things. This was not that hard. Everything is scarier in the darkness.

GraceJoyAveI made it through the night unscathed and woke with the sunrise. I surveyed my surroundings. In the light of day, I realized my campsite was fantastic and had a beautiful spot for a tent in the woods. When I walked to the washroom, I laughed upon realizing that just two sites away, the campground backed onto a neighborhood. The campground even had wifi! Then came the icing on the cake. Remember those gravel roads I navigated in the dark? My particular campsite was at the intersection of Grace Lane and Joy Avenue. Well played universe, well played. Everything is scarier in the darkness.

Life is about perspective. It’s about leaning in, taking risks, embracing vulnerability, and failing forward. I know this, I subscribe to this, I preach this. I’ve read the writings of Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Glennon Doyle. So when and where did I lose my path in the woods? I can clearly articulate the change I want to be in this world. But in the darkness of fear, I’ve grappled with how these dreams can come to fruition. Some of the questions I’ve pondered are:

  • Do I have anything meaningful to say?
  • Will what I say negatively impact my future career prospects?
  • Is what I’m saying on brand?
  • Do I even have a brand?
  • What if I ruin my career before I feel like it’s launched?
  • Am I a total imposter?

But here’s the thing. While I haven’t been writing my thoughts, someone else has published on the same topics. My brand is me so I can choose what that looks like. And if I’m being authentic then I should be able to find future career opportunities that embrace me for what I have to offer.

That’s all really easy to say and a lot harder to embody and implement. So here I am. Putting this out there. To remind myself and others that everything is scarier in the darkness, we can do hard things, and what you have to say is important. Onward.

Tripyramids

2 thoughts on “Wisdom from the Woods: Everything Looks Scarier in the Darkness

  1. Sheila B Robinson, Ed. D says:

    Awesome, inspirational and well-said. I enjoyed reading your reflection on your outdoor experiences in the context of your professional work and writing. You absolutely have meaningful ideas to share, and are not an imposter. I have the same questions about myself, my ideas, and my writing. I imagine you would tell me the same things. Yet, so many of us continue to struggle with these same questions. Brene Brown’s work is s great source of inspiration for me too. I especially like this conclusion: “My brand is me.” So true. I’m so glad you shared this article!

    Like

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