Hiker Intro: Did The Universe Just Poop Me A Golden Nugget?
It’s not often that opportunities are just presented by pure luck, heck I don’t even believe in luck. Yet I find myself in the midst of a strange situation that I never imagined presenting itself this way. I got fired from the best job I ever had which paved the road for an opportunity of a lifetime hiking the Appalachian Trail.
A Long Time Love Affair Is Over
I’m not sure about any of you but personally I’ve never been fired from a job. I’ve never been written up, never been insubordinate, never no-call no-showed. I’ve never wronged an employer or employee. I am pretty close to the perfect employee I’d say, HAH! You can imagine that with no prior issues or warnings on my behalf I was shocked to get fired during the end of a meeting that I, the Bar Manager, asked for. It was unfortunate for me that during COVID what used to be a trusting, open, communicative working relationship turned into a lying, cheating and emotionally abusive situation. I like to think of it like this:
Remember that crappy relationship you were in for WAY too long but the sex was good and maybe they made really delicious biscuits in the morning? Well for some reason you kept justifying that those damn biscuits were SO good that you couldn’t possibly imagine life without them. So you stick around even though you knew better, you kept buttering those biscuits even though they started to harden and taste sour. You kept justifying the lies you had to tell yourself to make eating them taste good anymore. For some awful reason we kept eating the damn biscuits even when it hurt.
And for some reason we find ways justify our toxic, depressing, soul sucking jobs the same way.
(ie. “I’ll never make this much money anywhere else”, “I’ve been here for years”, “They can’t do this without me here”, “I’m the only one who knows how to do this.”, “They NEED me and I NEED them.”, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”, “But I’ve done this my whole life?”.)
Transitioning: Termination to Determination
After getting terminated from my 4 year long relationship with the bar of my dreams I had A LOT of thinking to do. I felt angry, bitter, hurt, confused and depressed. Everything I thought that defined who I was was gone. Covid had stripped me to the core. I felt like I had lost myself.
But then I had a thought….
As soon as I realized my lease ended about 4 months after being fired and that I no longer had any commitments, outside of my loving relationship, I felt free. I felt like I had no more reasons or excuses to tell myself “now is not the time”. I knew that for the first time I truly had a chance to get my feet on the trail and do this thru-hiking thing. The universe had pooped me a golden nugget and it was time I used that nugget to get my butt to Georgia so I could walk back home.
I have wanted to hike the AT since I was 14 years old. It’s been my dream for literally as long as I can remember. If you asked me “What do you want to do with your life?” my answer would be “the only thing I’ve ever truly wanted to do with myself was to hike the Appalachian Trail.” and that is true to this day. I never grew up wanting to go to college, to have a house or get married and have kids, those were just not goals I had. I never had a “dream job”, whatever that means. All I knew was that I would not be satisfied or able to move on with my life until I hike the AT.
I am determined.
Despite all the setbacks this year has brought me financially I am determined to turn my life around and get on the trail. I have discovered that determination is often paired with sacrifice. So I started asking myself “what are you willing to sacrifice to get on the trail?”. It turns out there is a lot I am willing to sacrifice and those sacrifices are what’s going to get me to Georgia and up to Maine. A lot of people wonder how someone makes time for a thru-hike, or how they have the money to live in the woods for 6 months? The truth is that everyone makes sacrifices to make it happen. You start to give up things that just don’t seem important anymore compared to joy you will feel surrounded by Mother Nature. The more I sacrifice things in my everyday life the easier it is to motivate myself to truly let go of the mundane lifestyle I have lived for so long. My determination will motivate me on and off the trail, I will use my situation as fuel for the fire that’s lit inside my soul.
And so the journey begins.
There are good days and bad days.
There are days I doubt if I am making the right decisions and there are days I am wondering if I am an idiot.
Days I wonder why this goal is my goal?
Why did I decided a million years ago that walking to Maine makes sense for me?
What if I don’t make it to Maine?
What will people think of me?
What if I get scared?
What if I get lost?
What happens when I am alone?
What happens if I don’t find myself?
What if I get sick or injured?
The funny thing about all these fears is that we never stop to ask ourselves these questions when it comes to something as simple as a new job or relationship. We save our fears for the things we are most passionate about so we have excuses in case we fail. It’s all a self defense mechanism. Meanwhile we so easily make excuses to fit unwanted fear into our lives and even worse excuses to keep the hard things out. To help my brain stay away from this dark internal dialogue I have been saying to myself:
“You can only learn the other side of fear if you succumb to fear itself.”
As I prepare to set off on this magnificent adventure I will remember to face my fears every single day. I will challenge my body emotionally, mentally and physically. I will never let the fear of failure overcome my ability keep trying harder.
I will harness this golden nugget the universe has gifted me and let something beautiful blossom simply because I can.
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