Why I am Leaving Paradise to Hike the Appalachian Trail
What could possess me to give up my fabulous job, excellent friends, and tropical home in the Florida Keys to haul a pack up and down mountains for six months? I can assure you that it isn’t because life here is in any way dissatisfying. Being a scuba bum in the Keys? Yes, please! I think it has to do with what brought me here in the first place, that nagging desire to do what feels right, even if it is contrary to what most people do or what is expected of you. A few years ago I felt the need to put off getting “a real job” and flee to the warm South to indulge in a new life. Now I am genuinely putting off a real job (er, any job) and instead am planning to take a 6 month hiatus to test myself and embark on a new adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail.
My Appalachian Trials Lists
Despite reading Appalachian Trials months ago, and fully agreeing that outlining my goals and reasons for hiking the Appalachian Trail will increase my odds of success, I have yet to do so. While I was able to persuade myself to put my lists on the back burner because I had gear to research, books I was anxious to read, and plots to hatch, I think the honest reason was because I was a bit scared. After a year of dreaming of the trail, months of planning, and what seems like ages of reigning in the excitement I have become mildly obsessed, and entirely committed. Which means that if I were to publish this list and then fail, it would be devastating. But living in fear is a poor life plan. So here goes, time to throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, explore, dream, discover! (Mark Twain, paraphrased).
I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because…
I am ready for a change of pace and a change of scenery.
It’s time to get to know myself and who I want to be.
This feels like the next adventure I need to take (and because doing what I really want can be the hardest decisions I make, and too often I put them off).
I want time to live simply, simply enjoy life, and live mindfully.
It’s time to learn to love myself wholly.
I need time to figure out what to do next.
The time is right to take on an epic challenge.
I’d like to renew faith in myself and my fellow humans.
It’s a great way to defeat my blerch.
I’d like to prove that great challenges can be accomplished while maintaining core values (for me, my vegan lifestyle).
It’s time to figure out my passions and priorities.
When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…
Have accomplished something great (and crazy!).
Have new perspectives on life and myself.
Now have memories and stories to last a lifetime.
Have re-connected with nature.
Be more aware of what I want in life.
Have renewed faith in myself and others.
Possess a sense of confidence and accomplishment I lacked before.
Feel comfortable being true to my self (and my own weirdness)
Be a vegan Level 3, at least. (give yourself a brownie point if you got the Simpsons reference!)
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…
Be immensely disappointed in myself and feel like a failure.
Have let down all the people who supported me.
Continue to give up on other dreams.
Have spent a lot of time and money to fail.
Not be the person I want to be (and can be).
Have deprived myself of the experiences only the AT could give me.
Face people who believe I failed because I’m a vegan.
Feel miserable until I conquer this goal.
Miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
I am thrilled, and simultaneously somewhat terrified to be exposing my hopes and dreams to the world, but mostly excited. This is the hike of a lifetime, and now at least these lists are off my chest (because soon enough there will be plenty of weight on my back!) Thank you all for taking the time to read my list!
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