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 I 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 I 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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