A Letter To Myself When The Days Get Tough

Trail will suck at times. I wrote this letter to myself in 2021 to serve as my reminder to keep walking on those days when I am mentally and emotionally burned out. Yes, it’s harsh but I know it’s what I need to keep going– reminding me of my why and what I will feel if I do quit. 

Dear Kelly,

So the word is out. You want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022. You are so excited about spending 5 months away emerged in literally everything about it– the physical pain, emotional turmoil, and all the beauty that the trail will offer. That beauty will be found through the people you meet, your personal growth, and the physical magnificence that Mother Nature will lay before you.

You will likely have moments where you are questioning your decision. Work is going so well, you’ll want to continue your professional growth. You’ll want to help such an amazing organization continue to grow because you know you are good at what you do. And you love getting kids outside. Nothing makes you happier than showing a child what mystery can be found outdoors.

You’ll want to stay by your family, some of the most important people on your life. You’ll want to stay near Buddy the dog, your kick ass siblings, and your supportive parents.

You’ll want to stay by some of your best friends– Colleen, Ashley, and Steph– the Jack Track Pack, your best backpacking buds.

But you also want to become a more kick ass version of yourself. 

The Trek just posted a question. Essentially it asked, “in three words or less, why do you want to thru hike?” One person commented their response and it was spot on to your why– “time with self.” You want to reconnect with yourself in your most raw form. I want you to reconnect with that fun, carefree, laid back Kelly. She is freaking awesome. You’ve been going nonstop for years and you need time with self.

Reconnecting with that version of yourself feels so necessary right now. You just got out of a pandemic, are still fresh in adulthood, and are struggling to figure out your place in the world. You are starting to get there as the days go by, but the transformation still feel incomplete.

So don’t you dare quit. 

This trail will be physically demanding, but you’ve done physically challenging things. Staying strong mentally and emotionally will be where your determination, and this letter, will be needed.

If you leave trail, only let it be because of injury. Rest often and listen to your body. Be smart financially. Call people when needed. Ask people to check in on you. Embrace the suck.

If you back out, Kelly, you will lack confidence in yourself and feel like you are not fulfilling your potential.  You’ll never believe you can do hard things again. And it will likely break you.

Doing hard things is what you’ve worked for these past few years. You’ve run 70 gosh darn miles on the rocky Laurel Highlands Trail. Twice. You’ve proven you can juggle a full time job, a part time job, a social life, and more. Now it’s time to combine that grit and reconnect with your most pure self.

Get a good cry out, call a friend, and put one foot in front of the other. Step by step, you’ll get there.

Sending love and happy trails,

2021 Kelly

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