for those crisis of confidence moments

With the NOBO AT season closing in, a lot of The Trek posts I’ve read lately echo what I’ve been feeling, basically:

omg, this is really happening! / am I ready? /  can I do this?

Whether it’s reading about others’ never-ending search for the ‘right’ gear or another owning that this is as scary as it is exciting, it makes me feel less alone to know that you all are as anxious as I am. To combat my own anxiety, I’ve been trying to re-frame all of my worries. For those who’ve been following along thus far, you’ll have picked up on the jokey vibes in all of my previous blogs. And while that’s pretty much me, and this post is no exception, in all seriousness many hours spent in therapy and reading books about mindfulness (and Appalachian Trials) and having conversations with people wiser than I am have taught me that re-framing how you think about any of life’s challenges can make them feel a whole lot easier to deal with.

My worries center around the following:

  1. the time spent away from my ‘life’
  2. choosing a divergent path
  3. uncertainty

So here goes for re-framing….!

1. On 5-6 months away from my ‘life’

-What is 6 months? It’s one trip to get your teeth cleaned, maybe four pedicures, and (for me) probably not even a single haircut (sorry, Monica. we both know it’s true).

-Looking back on this time 10 years from now, what will 6 months have been? Not the giant leap of faith it feels like now, bit a blip of an adventure in the grand scheme of things.

-Although I’d really like to be, I’m not the center of the universe. The world won’t end in the 6 months that I’m gone. My life, my house, my friends, (hopefully) my job will still be here when I get back.

2. On the courage to choose a divergent path

-I’ve done this before. I spent a couple years after college abroad with the Peace Corps and living out of a backpack teaching outdoor ed in the mountains in random places. It was awesome and fun and not a big deal then, so it shouldn’t really feel like a big deal now. It isn’t a big deal now!

-If I were going on vacation to a Caribbean island for a week or two, neither I nor anybody else would think anything of it; it would be a given. Well-earned rest and relaxation to come back refreshed. Taking a 6-month leave of absence is really no different.

-Basically everyone I’ve talked to is jealous. Or at least claims to be. It is empowering to think that I’m doing something brave.

3. On uncertainty

-Nothing is certain, and I can’t control everything. I’m not exactly Type A, maybe more Type A-, but I do like to be in control so this is my mantra. I don’t know what thru-hiking will really be like, and there’s nothing I can do about that but try.

-Nothing is certain in my normal life, either, I’m just comfortable in the uncertainty I face on a daily basis because its familiar.

-Uncertainty really makes me uncomfortable, but it’s a facet of life that will never go away. Deliberately removing most of the certainty in my life is pretty much as bad as it’ll ever be! What a good opportunity to learn and grow, and hopefully it’ll make future uncertain times feels less daunting.


I will say that at present I am not worried or anxious about the physicality of hiking, the weather, the camping, the food, or generally not knowing what the f*ck I’m doing trying to live in the woods. So I have all of that to look forward to re-framing!

And, lastly, here’s an embarrassing photo of me trying to cross a teeny tiny stream on a recent hike. I’m re-framing this as practice for the big rivers of Maine. Enjoy! 😉


More to come and happy hiking!



*The title image, taken by Brennan Bearnes, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Comments 1

  • Carolyn Burman : Feb 1st

    I felt this so hard. Good luck and I hope to meet you out there!


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