Selfish Hiker

Who Am I?

My name is Cayla. I’m 30 years old and I’ve lived most of my life in Southern California, save for a short stint in Oregon when I was four. I don’t remember much from growing up, but I do remember that I wanted to move back to Oregon as soon as we got back to California. I loved the forests, the rivers, the rain. The quiet. I loved all of it.

But somehow, here I am, 26 years later, with that forgotten dream just chilling in the back of my mind, waiting for me to wake up.

I’ve spent most of my life following others. I had a difficult time discovering who I was growing up, which is easy to do when you’re super gay and are brought up with religion. I always felt different, and that made me question all of my decisions. Everyone else seemed so sure of themselves, and I distrusted my mind so much that I struggled with discovering what it was that wanted to do.

I played with dolls for awhile, because that’s what someone bought me one time and it seemed like that was what I was supposed to do.

I read the Christian books my parents bought me, because that’s what they did and I thought that’s what I was supposed to do too.

I wore dresses because my friends did. I listened to the music they did. I joined the same clubs they did. I worked the same jobs they did. I played the same sports they did.

Everything I did was an attempt to mirror those around me and find some inkling of peace and belonging.

Plot Twist, It Didn’t Work

I was severely unhappy, battling huge bouts of depression and anxiety for the better part of two decades. It took me a long time to feel safe coming to the realization that I’m a lesbian, and while that definitely helped me on my quest to figure out what I want, it didn’t change the fact that I have spent precisely 0% of my life making time to discover who I am at my core.

Call it a quarter-life crisis if you will, but 2020 was a huge wake-up call. Between the global pandemic, leaving what I thought was my dream job, moving in with my (incredible) partner for the first time, and struggling to find my reason to get up in the morning without a career to guide me, I went through a hell of an emotional rollercoaster.

Life’s Just Too Short, You Know?

My old Poetry Professor’s voice is in my head right now, pointing out the cliche. But cliches are there because we’ve all felt them. They’re universal truths or bits of wisdom that we cling to because we understand each other.

And life is just too short. I’m sure I’m far from the only one that finally felt that sink in last year.

What am I doing with my life? 

Why am I content to just live the life others want for me?

And for the first time in my life, I was asking myself… what do want to do?

Spend Some Time With Myself

That’s the answer. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to hear myself. Away from all the noise, all the incessant need to please others, to follow others.

And what better way to do that than in nature? The woods and the mountains have been calling me back since I was four, but I haven’t been listening.

I’m listening now, and I’m ready to walk. To cry because I have to climb another mountain. To laugh because I climbed the last one, all by myself. To choose myself over the pain of the blisters and the sore muscles. To feel pride and joy, sadness and despair, all wrapped up into one experience that will show me who I am.

I can’t wait to meet myself.

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Comments 12

  • KJ Comrie : Mar 15th

    Cayla! This is so awesome. TBH I wish I was this brave. My wife and I are going to welcome a baby girl into this world in 4 weeks. My life is going to dramatically change obviously but I hope my baby girl is as strong and brave as you are. I look forward to hearing about your journey.

    • Cayla White : Mar 15th

      Thanks KJ! I’m so excited for you, you’re going to be such a great dad! I can’t wait to see all the pictures <3

  • Russ1663 : Mar 16th

    Cayla there are times when you just need to put on boots, shoulder your pack and find a quiet place that if it is remote and quiet enough becomes your place. When you find it, observe it closely. Watch the little things that occur. Perhaps an old box turtle will pass by going only where knows to go. Birds come and go and stop to look you over. Watch the day come and go without man made background noise. You may already know that place. Good luck, safe travel.

    • Cayla White : Mar 16th

      Thank you so much!

  • JhonYermo : Mar 16th

    Oh joy. Someone doing the trail for their-self. “Hiking the PCT to spend some time with myself away from society.”
    Not doing it for the Socializing. I just had to subscribe.

    • Cayla White : Mar 16th

      Thank you <3

  • Alyssa Kessler : Mar 16th

    I’m so excited to see what this journey brings you! Love you and am so happy/proud to see you doing what brings you joy

    • Cayla White : Mar 16th

      Thanks boo, love you!

  • pearwood : Mar 19th

    Go for it, Cayla!
    Steve (the straight old white guy with a trans daughter and a pride flag out in front)

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thanks for the support, Steve!

  • Josh : Apr 9th

    I think it’s really cool to see someone following their passions. Super impressed!

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thanks Josh!


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