Never in my wildest imagination, did I think I would be brave enough to do so many things on my own. Deciding to move across the country alone, forced me to try things I never thought possible. The old Nathan would have never gone to an event without knowing someone there. I would have never stepped foot in a bar without a friend. I would have never traveled alone. I would have never gone hiking by myself.
Why? I tend to have an overactive imagination and I consume myself with what other people might be thinking. Do they see me awkwardly standing in the corner? Do they think I am alone and without friends? Do they think lonely people take vacations without other people? Is a pack of hungry wolves going to surround me on the trail? Am I destined to die alone while they snack on my skinny/fat body? My issue with doing things alone was never anyone or anything else. It was me and the thoughts swimming around in my head.
Living alone and striving to make new friends, forced me to make some decisions about what kind of life I wanted for myself. I could go to work and then home every day or I could sign up for that networking event, shake some hands, engage in small talk and see where the conversation takes me. I could fill my calendar with events or activities to do alone or I could take the first step and invite people to come along. I could wish someone would go on an international trip with me or I could be brave and make it happen. I could look at the mountains from afar and imagine what I might do there or I could build up some courage and tackle them myself. In every case, I chose the latter. In every single case, I am glad I did.
Those moments of bravery have shaped me. They have changed me and made me the man I am today. Adding “hike alone” to your bucket list may seem like a small thing, but to me it was everything. It was my last flag to plant in a life I hope to define on my own terms. As I set out to Glacier Basin inside Mt. Rainier National Park, I was able to set my own pace, take stock of my surroundings and give proper pause to every moment of self-discovery. When I got back to my car, with a smile from ear to ear, I realized there was nothing I couldn’t do.
Sure, I would always rather be surrounded by the people I love. I firmly believe human experiences are meant to be shared. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t write so often, but there is a sense of reliance that is built within us when we decide to be brave and face the world standing on our own two feet. In the last five years, I have learned to rely on myself. It makes be better equipped for self-care and the care of others. Something I never thought I would have learned on my journey to fill my bucket.
Be good to each other,