My birthday was a few days ago, and with this impending adventure (and with people asking me every other day why I’d even want to attempt something like this), I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am and what I want out of my life experiences.

I’ve always been a rather contemplative introvert (who also likes the company of friends and enjoys chatting over a beer), and in the past few weeks, I have felt even more of those tendencies come out. It’s not that I don’t want to be social, but in the face of such a massive and impending change to my daily life circumstances, I’ve found myself relishing the comfort of taking a solo training hike, or reading a good book, or writing down the myriad of reasons I’m excited/frightened/nervous/overjoyed/ready to leave Austin and begin this trip.

I think one of the many reasons I’ve chosen to go on this crazy adventure is because I want to be a better citizen of the world.

But wait, Zoë, how does selfishly taking time off from your job and your family and friends to walk in the woods by yourself and for yourself help you be a better citizen of the world?

Well, for me, being a “better citizen of the world” means consciously interacting with and thinking about many difference facets of said world. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as it relates to my work and my career, and this Medium article by designer Tobias van Schneider sums up my feelings perfectly:

For me, trying to be a better designer means trying to be a better human being, as cheesy as it sounds. Every designer, from advertising to product deals with a different set of problems. But in the end, each designer caters to us humans, regardless of what problem we are trying to solve. The day I became a better designer was the day I started looking outside the design industry for inspiration. It was the day I started reading books about philosophy, psychology, art or science.”

I think that it’s time that I strive to consider this in both my life and my work (if you can even separate the two). If I can learn something new about people, about our planet, or even about myself, by going on this journey, then it will have been worth it. If I gain a deeper understanding and connection to the things and the life that surrounds me, I will have succeeded. Cultivating a variety of life experiences is not merely something I want to do, I think it’s something I have to do. Perhaps the next life adventure won’t have anything to do with hiking (or maybe it will, who knows).

What do you think it means to be a “better citizen of the world?” Let me know in the comments.


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Comments 2

  • Christopher : Feb 11th

    I enjoyed your article Zoe.This will also be my first thru hike.At the age of 46 I have had serious health problems most of my adult life with finally being diagnosed with sle lupus and sjogrens syndrome in 02. I love hiking,backpacking,camping, and fishing. I am not going to let my health problems prevent me from completing the AT. I will be using the self given trail name HiddenWolf for lupus means wolf and is disguised as so many other illnesses.I plan to start by Apr 1st. Look forward to reading your future articles and wish you the best on the AT. Happy Hiking, HiddenWolf

    • Zoë : Feb 13th

      HiddenWolf, Thanks for your support! Best of luck to you too on the AT. Your sense of perseverance is inspiring.


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