This post has nothing to do with actual hiking, but does have to do with the “stuff” that this hike is bringing up for me. I’m, admittedly, being a little self-indulgent here, so don’t read this if you don’t wanna.
While navel gazing on day 49, I had podcasts playing in my ears. Half of my mind was listening to podcasts, while the other half was spinning in thought- mostly about how I wish I were different than I am. One of the podcasts I half heard was about a woman rewriting the story of the birth of her daughter, which had been traumatic for her.
I’d heard of this concept before, rewriting, or reframing, the story you tell yourself about some event in your life. It has sounded interesting, but confusing to me. Events happen as they happen, right? They affect you in certain ways and that’s it, right? You can’t just change what happened in the past. The past is fixed, immutable, right?
My mind continued to spin and spiral, thinking about all of my insecurities. It also began to digest this woman’s story and the ways in which she was able to reframe her experience and feel better about it. Could I change the story I tell myself about myself? Maybe, but how?
First, what is the story I tell myself about myself? In this instance, I tell myself that I’m not worthy of my friends, or of new friends. I tell myself that I’m NOT intelligent, fun, funny, interesting, cool, outgoing, light-hearted, quick-witted, worth-while- all of the traits I see and value in my friends. Basically, I tell myself that I’m not enough. But, is this true? Why do I feel this way?
Well, I’ve spent years in therapy unpacking why I feel this way and realizing that I have plenty of evidence to suggest that other people don’t see me in this very skewed way. I have plenty of evidence to suggest that my friends like me as I am. If I dig further, I understand that I like my friends just as they are- for all of their amazing traits and all of their flaws, too. I like them because they are who they are. I like the whole of them. I see their intrinsic worth as people. Might they like me despite, or even inclusive of, my flaws? Might they like the whole of me? How can I begin to see my intrinsic worth?
This is what I know about myself: I am an introvert in an extrovert’s world. I’m a daydreamer. I’m reserved. I’m a little too serious for my own good and prone to too much self-reflection. I’m too literal sometimes and miss jokes and sarcasm because of this. I have a case of Resting Bitch Face (RBF). The combination of all these things causes people to think I’m stuck-up at times. I’m not sure what to do about this. I have a big heart, but I’m cautious with it. It takes awhile to get to know me. I’m much better one-on-one than I am in groups, until I feel comfortable with the people in the group. I’m emotionally aware, but not very physically and spatially aware, making me terrible at team sports. I’m empathic. I can take the emotional temperature of a room quickly and have a natural or learned tendency to try to neutralize whatever imbalance there is, which can keep me from being really present. I can be naive about the world around me, but I’m not stupid. I am kind and empathetic, but I can also have a bit of a defensive edge and can be impatient. I am independent. I don’t like being told what to do or how to feel. I’m too hard on myself, so when I feel someone is judging me, I take it hard. I am tender and have a lot of fears and anxieties, but I am strong and courageous in facing down those fears and learning how to deal with anxieties. I am always learning and growing, even when it doesn’t seem like it from the outside. I can seem very buttoned-up, prudish and old-fashioned on the outside, but on the inside I’m all neon rainbows and glitter. I love music- all kinds. I’m always up for an adventure, even if I’m not great at instigating.
My whole life, it seems, I have chastised myself for being these things, thinking that this is the opposite of how I should be. But, why? What’s wrong with being just as I am? What if i stop seeing these traits as negative and just accept them as part of who I am? What if I assume others will, too?
The toughest part about being on trail has been the loneliness. I am surrounded by people, but I often feel isolated or invisible. Because of the nature of the trail, it is difficult to get to know each other on a deeper level. We are always in motion, and often at different paces. Those who do end up forming groups and hiking together are often people who are naturally good in groups anyway. There are lots of other loners out here who have also not found groups. Also, I am surrounded by mostly younger people, and that seems to be a bit of a barrier.
I have been beating myself up for not having made more friends on trail, for not having found a “trail family.” What if I just accept this as being part of my experience and enjoy the solitude? What if I focus on the friends I have made, even if we didn’t end up hiking together?
Hunter, the man with 100 best friends, said to me a few days ago, “You have to just not care. As soon as you stop caring so much, you’ll make friends with no problem.” He used more colorful language.
As a person prone to caring too much about everything, this concept is hard for me, but I understand what he means. I need to let go of the desperation to be accepted. More than anything, I just need to accept myself. Over the past several days I have finally begun to work on thi in a real way.
When I am trying to change something or learn a new behavior, I often play the game “What if for one week…?” What if for one week I completely accept myself as I am? What if for one week I decide to just not care?
Hunter is visiting this week. I’m taking some time off the trail. I’m going to use this time to rest, recharge and reboot. When I return to the trail, most of the hiker bubble I’ve been in will be a hundred miles or more ahead. I will have a bit of a new start (or if you’re an Arrested Development fan, anustart).
I’m excited to try out reframing how i think of myself. Just because I have always thought or felt a certain way about myself, doesn’t mean I have to keep thinking or feeling that way. Thoughts are not necessarily the truth. Feelings are definitely not necessarily the truth. Truth is often fluid, subjective. I’m excited to try out a new truth for myself.