Managing Others + Self
“You’ll get homesick.”
“You can’t do this alone.”
“You’re a vulnerable woman.”
“You’re avoiding the real world.”
“You’re not an experienced backpacker.”
Manifesting the worries of others and underestimating myself are two of my biggest struggles:
As much as I identify as an independent thinker, I often internalize people’s opinions, which leads to self-doubt. It’s mainly rooted in unfamiliarity and learned behaviors. When sharing my plans, being a solo female seems to be a common stressor among my close circle of supporters. They worry about my attempt to hike alone, without my partner, and whether he accepts my hiatus. Social norms tell me that I must depend on a man for safety and security, please others before myself, and create a family-focused life, which (personally) isn’t ideal.
Returning to my value of autonomy helps me manage the haunting concerns of others. I carry out this value by advocating for myself, unlearning gender norms, and finding a balance between surviving and thriving. Being a woman is a major part of my identity, so finding motivation from women in the backpacking community has helped me manage insecurities and the unknown. Winning the Backpacker Radio Sponsorship has also helped immensely. The opportunity showered me with many perks including guidance from seasoned backpackers who have completed the AT. I met five incredible women: Heather “Lavender,” Danielle “Sonic,” Lauren “Woodchuck,” Taylor “Flower Power,” and Stephanie “Pancake.” and found comfort in the stories they shared about their unique experiences; obstacles; and tips about feminine hygiene, staying vigilant, and (most importantly) trusting my gut.
Overcoming internalized opinions and dealing with self-doubt will be an ongoing challenge that will follow me on the trail. Returning to my values, remembering that I owe it to myself to push boundaries and live my version of life, and accepting support from the backpacking community are helpful approaches to facing my struggles.
“This will be an adventure of a lifetime.”
“You’ll learn so much along the way.”
“You’re doing this for yourself.”
“You’re an amazing woman.”
“What a cool experience.”
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This is so well written! So proud of you, MG! Can’t wait to follow your adventure. Thank you for giving us sobo ladies a reason to re-connect. Supporting you every step of the way!
I second this!!! Love your writing. It was such a delight to chat with you, MG.
On top of everything else, you’re a gifted writer! I can’t wait to follow your journey!
Great article! Here’s a couple negative thoughts ladies other than you may wish to ignore: “You’re too short! You’re too old!”