Comparisons create anxiety; my current state-of-mind

It’s almost March, about 7 weeks from my solo AT through hike. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that time does fly by as I have been warned by my elders all my life. This, like so many other admonitions, has come to pass and I, probably like they themselves experienced at one time, am surprised to find myself in a body that I don’t recognize with a mind that’s more forgetful living in a world that I appreciate less.

All of this combined with an unfulfilling ‘lifestyle’ (in lieu of elaboration) has me looking forward to my journey more and more each day. Am I a little apprehensive because I feel not yet ready? Yes. Is there some fear of leaving all that is familiar? Yes. But this pales in comparison to the daily grind of working and being bombarded by the current events.

Despite being less than prepared physically and equipmentally I am very prepared mentally; I feel like fleeing every day. The time I now spend reading blogs and social media sites specifically for through hikers has become sporadic because the anxiety, enthusiasm, comparisons, questions, fear and over-all chatter expressed on said sites feels claustrophobic. The anxiety I read from others about their equipment, itinerary, food drops, travel plans, etc. in turn causes me anxiety – anxiety I otherwise do not have. It’s not that I feel all prepared and ready because I am not but sharing all these feelings and apprehensions on websites (which means instead of preparing, I’m sitting in front of a computer and reading and typing – which takes hours of my time) does not make me any more prepared and it certainly doesn’t make me FEEL better. So I glance over the titles of posts on The Trek and on FB groups that I’ve joined to see if anything catches my attention, read and move on. I don’t have the spare time to give – not any more – to reading everyone else’s plans for their hike.

Right from the beginning when the seed of hiking the AT germinated and I read Appalachian Trials and became familiar with the adage HYOH (hike your own hike), it was a perfect fit for me. The journey of hiking 2,200 miles even if done with a “partner” is still an individual undertaking, a mental and physical trial that cannot be shared with anyone, not even a partner can make your emotional or physical pain less than just because they are there – and, from what I’ve read, sometimes they contribute to the misery.

Being a single woman for two decades and completely self-reliant, the idea of preparing for and hiking by myself was as seamless as making a grocery list and doing the shopping, cooking & cleaning – natural. I mean thinking about a partner never crossed my mind. So I am doing what I have always done, plod along a day at a time and doing what I can and not worrying about what I cannot do. I have never been able to successfully compare myself to others nor have I ever derived assistance or support by doing so. My journey will definitely be my own and my plan is to appreciate it for what it is; a complete break from my life and the noise pollution that is so paralyzing. I will start my hike whether I am fully prepared or not and, as in life, make adjustments along the way all while I remind myself there is no wrong or right way and someone else’s way is not my way. It’s going to be hard no matter how ‘prepared’ I try to be.

Courage is about taking action despite fear, not the absence of fear.


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