This post is different from my normal ones. It’s not organized, or a story, or a hike recap. Simply, this post is my thoughts. A topic that has been on my mind lately, and one I’ve been attributing much mental energy to, is space. Specifically, our human space and existence. I’m using this post as a sounding board if you will.
Take up space.
Own your space.
Embrace your space.
Stop making yourself small.
Stop minimizing your worth, your being, your existence.
You’re existence has a purpose.
Honor that. Honor the universe.
The dust and particles which comprise your being.
They have purpose. You were created by the universe.
Take up the space the world handed you.
Grow and cultivate your being in this space.
You have permission.
Embrace all of your fears, insecurities, internal and external ‘flaws’.
This quote/concept has been on my mind lately. A LOT.
Taking this concept and looking at it broadly, I agree completely. On the level of how one handles themselves with both small and big things. How information gets processed. What the outlook on life looks like as a result of the latter.
I’m naturally an over-stressed, over-thinking, attempt to do-it-all human. Pressing the pause button feels a little weird and uneasy. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. THAT, that right there is the key to why I’m over-stressed, over-thinking, trying to take on the whole damn world in ways that simply aren’t meant for me.
I never fully understood this until very recently. In a sense, I knew that the fear of not doing enough was a key driver in my attempt to do everything, to keep saying “yes”, and as a result of those – a red-handed culprit when examining sources for anxiety and other unwanted mental feels. What I didn’t realize was that the fear of not doing enough directly translated to not being enough.
Making this connection has allowed me to deeply examine each component of my life, big and small, taking into consideration the following questions: 1. WHY is this in my life, 2. how does it really make me feel (not just how I present to society how it makes me feel… rather in the core of my being), 3. what positive/negative attributes does it provide for my current and future life, and 4. do I want to keep it in my life? Simply put, if my answer is: it creates stress for X, Y, Z reason, I continue to partake in it out of fear that I’ll be thought of differently (from others, not how I think about myself), and it isn’t something that I find beneficial or needed for my future self – well… it needs to get kicked out the door.
I’ve realized that no matter what I do, how much I do, or how well I do something – I still will not be approved from everyone in every area of my life. Doing everything doesn’t equal success or happiness or fulfillment. Doing, creating, partaking in the things which light my soul on fire and feel absolutely stellar AF internally are the things I’m actively seeking to keep part of and add to my life because these are what create a sense of fulfillment and connection both to myself and to the broader world.
What are my two-cents? Be honest with yourself about what makes you feel fulfilled, successful, and connected. Include ALL of that in your life because even if it’s a lot – anything you deeply find purposeful will always find a way to be fit into the puzzle of “but there are only 24 hours in a day”. Ditch as much as possible that doesn’t lead to your feeling good about yourself and your existence. We get a small fraction of time on this planet, actively pursue YOUR life/goals/ambitions/manifestations not your neighbors/friends/sisters/fathers. It’s a process to disentangle the WHY behind your actions, but it’s a process entirely worth undertaking.
Figure out you, work on you, and then take over the part of the world that you want to contribute your time and energy to.
“Don’t worry about other people, wear your happiness on your skin. Be proud of what you have built. It only has to make sense to you.” – R.m Drake
I’m super giddy today. You might ask… why? Still on my nature high from mountain frolicking Saturday with Lawn and Hiker Dad. Also, super looking forward to adventuring again this coming week.
Prior to hiking Mt. Pierce last Sunday, it had been just over three weeks since I visited the mountains. Much, much, too long. That said, it was mostly okay by me as I was enjoying the weather still deciding to be fall here on the Seacoast. But having hiked 1-2 times per week from May-September, the larger than usual gap felt strange. Not bad strange, just off, out of the ordinary. I’m explaining this so that I can tell you guys – it feels really great to go twice within a week – Pierce Sunday and Cabot Saturday.
I’ve been a little out of my groove. I think I’ve actually been super in my groove, but not used to this, so it therefore feels out of groove.
My life will be substantially changing within the next year. I’ve gone from feeling absolutely terrified and uncertain, trying to meticulously plan every bit of this out, to just letting go and growing in. By growing in, I mean growing into myself… my being… my aspirations and goals I have for my life and my being. Don’t get me wrong – I’m scared/unsure/uncertain. I mean, my childhood home will be sold in 7-10 months, I will be moving, I finish school in under 3 months, I’m undertaking a journey of starting my own business to wellness/health coach around eating disorder remission/women’s health/misophonia, and I’m trying to navigate all of this while staying on path with my own personal shit sandwich management. But despite all of this, I feel oddly good. It all feels right. I’m terrified but not concerned? I mean I’m slightly concerned I will be living in my Subaru come next Fall but like… things could be worse.
The two hikes in one week helped me feel back in groove. Mountain time is the best use of my time I’ve found for both personal wellbeing and also personal growth in the sense that it allows me a great deal of space and time to just be (well… just walk) with my thoughts. It teaches me what I’m drawn to most, what things catch my attention and draw it in like no other, and to be one with the process. While definitely out of my comfort zone as I ponder the next moves for my life, I’m beginning to realize there is a difference, a big difference, between being out of groove and being out of my comfort zone.
SO, of course I must actually tell you about this lovely hike.
Mt. Cabot via Bunnell Notch Trail – 9.4 miles (of snowy bliss)
I hiked Cabot back in late August via the Northern trailhead taking Unknown Pond Trail, and that particular hike was #45 for completing the NH 48 4000 footers. I find this amusing because Carrigain was #44 and I have also since repeated that mountain. It’s almost as if I’m trying to reverse my order for round 2. Not really, but I’m definitely ready for some peaks that it’s been a while since I’ve hiked!
This hike, most likely given my feeling out of groove aka out of my comfort zone, felt particularly challenging. Not only from the physical aspect – snowshoeing is HARD work people. My legs were substantially more tired after this hike than after the almost 20 mile Bond hike in early September… yeah. But also mental – between being up early, not loving being in snowshoes for the whole hike, my feet deciding to take close to 2 miles for me to actually feel them, gaiters getting wet through (Lawn has the same ones and hers did too… we need new ones!), being overly in my head about life lately – I found myself just wanting to call it quits and stop and take a nap. That didn’t happen.
I kept going. Walking. Step after step. At one point just before reaching the Cabot Cabin I employed my friend Amy’s tactic of internally counting steps. I literally counted to 200 steps and then took a quick breather and kept going. I didn’t tell Lawn or Hiker Dad what I was doing, but this really helped me to just work with the process. On 99% of hikes I can just go no problem, without question or hesitation or reassessment but this one in particular was different. I definitely attribute this to all of the recent and upcoming changes and an overactive head space.
Once we reached the Cabin my brain space and mental clarity underwent a shift for the positive. I felt a lot better for the remainder of the day. First off, I was nice and toasty which is always helpful. But mainly, I had the time to process what I was feeling, to work through it all. Those previous 200 step increments did more than just physically move me up the mountain, they allowed me to focus on ONLY the steps, nothing more, nothing less. I just walked. And counted. I walked and I counted.
There is something truly magical about thinking only about the present moment – nothing in the past, future, or even thoughts per se. Just thinking about what action(s) your currently undertaking. In these moments I was hiking. I knew I had two great hiking pals, that the trail was broken out, that I was safe, that I’m healthy, and that I had the necessary experience for the day – those were my facts. I knew these facts, trusted them, and kept on walking. I kept walking away from fear and doubt and into understanding more about what I was feeling and more importantly why I felt the way I did at the start of the hike.
This hike may have been one of the more challenging ones to date. Not out of miles, elevation gain, or weather even – but because it challenged me from many angles I’m not used to experiencing when hiking. For these reasons, it’s now one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, I dig hikes that go super well, where I am in a total flow state (and are in the summer)… but the ones that push me past mental and physical comfort zones – those are the best of hikes.
Per usual with recent hikes, I’ve been asking my hiking partners to quickly recap the day – Lawns thoughts of our trek up Mt. Cabot:
“Good call on bringing the snowshoes.
Bad call on wearing gaiters that weren’t waterproofed.
FIRST SUMMIT WITH SARDOGG.”
“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.” ― Ziad K. Abdelnou
I posted a rather last minute blurb on my instagram last night (below) in light of it being World Mental Health day, and today I’m here to talk about all of this a little bit more.
From my instagram:
If there is a single message I can get across it is that YOU MATTER. As simple and complex as that is, you matter. And, I believe in you.
My own story and experience has taught me a lot about how we need to treat ourselves as human beings in order to have stable mental health. Constantly talking down to yourself, judging your every move, doubting your path – this isn’t positive for your well-being. It’s minimizing. It’s destructive.
I’m recovered/in recovery from an eating disorder. I’ve dealt with massive amounts of anxiety. I’ve had days where I questioned if going forward was actually worth it. I’ve starved myself. I’ve purged. I’ve exercised 7 days a week multiple times a day. I’ve cut. I’ve drank too much. I’ve taken laxatives to get rid of food. I AM NOT PERFECT. And, you know what, I don’t want to be. Trying to be perfect could have killed me and it also led me to be extremely unhappy with myself and unsatisfied with my life. So screw that notion.
Throughout the last few years I have grown in ways I never imagined. I let go of many expectations I set for myself around 1. What I needed to accomplish by when, 2. What I needed to look like, 3. What path of trajectory my life took, 4. What my fitness and nutrition needed to look like day in and day out, etc. The “should do this” and “have to do that” statements controlled my life. I was practically a zombie following my own set of rules which would eventually lead to my own destruction.
IT WILL BE OK. You can survive this.
LIFE IS HARD. And you know what, that’s ok. It’s more than ok. It makes it fun. Have fun with it. Enjoy the shit out of it. Stay stoked. Find your happy. Keep your internal fire alive. Don’t destroy yourself out of fear, feelings of inadequacy, dislike of yourself. Rather be who you are – there is only one of you and that’s super f*cking cool.
YOU ARE WORTH IT. ALL OF IT. ALWAYS
“Relax wild one. It’s not your job to be everything everyone needs, and you don’t have to be impressive to be loved. Stop trying so hard. Just show up … and be real with the world. That is enough.” ― Brooke Hampton
Beyond what I said in my post, there is more that I want to put into words and convey to the world (or at least the handful of humans that stumble across my corner of the web).
It’s ok to not be ok. Heck, it’s practically part of life at one point or another. There isn’t something wrong with you because you are struggling. It doesn’t make you less worthy, less determined, less driven, less adequate. It makes you human. Humans have struggles. And, sure, maybe your current issue isn’t the same as your neighbors but that’s also more than ok. We are unique as individuals and therefore are unique in what we go through.
Don’t look down on yourself because you feel like you are walking in circles, unable to “get it together”, or even have a good day. Just have a day. Keep it simple. Don’t make it so complicated. The complication of trying to have a “good” day, or be “happy” will make it harder not easier. Just have a day. Get through the day. Understand that your struggle is completely validated and that you are validated and that your existence is entirely worth it.
Know that while it might be 1 step forward, 1 step back, 2 steps forward, ect. it might be 10 forward, 3 back or vice versa. Your progress doesn’t have a guidebook. Don’t define YOUR progress based on any pre-thought notions about how it should look. The word should… well it should stop existing. And, because that’s unlikely to happen, please do yourself a favor and stop using it. No matter the context it’s degrading. Example: “I should sleep more”. OK, yeah, this might be true. Why not just “I need to sleep more”. Or, “sleeping more would make me feel better”. The should isn’t needed, it takes away your power. Stop doing that to yourself. You are better than the “should have’s”.
I can’t give the answers because you have to find them on your own (because what is good for me might not be for you). What I can tell you is that working on your mental health is not a bad thing. It doesn’t make you weak. It actually makes you REALLY STRONG. I never in a million years would have guessed I would be where I am today. I can tell you that in my life I have actually felt the lowest when I was doing the best by the standards of society and of doctors offices. Mental health isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Own your struggle. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t fear that you can’t get help because you seem fine. If you are not ok, that is as good of reason as any to get help.
Mental health is SO MUCH MORE than being happy. It’s knowing that you don’t need to always feel good. It’s understanding how you react to things and being able to manage the ups and the downs while also taking care of your needs as a person. It’s showing up in life for everything that is important to you and also serves you in positive ways. It’s letting go of the things which are harmful for your well-being and not beating yourself up over this. It’s having bad days and going with the ebb and flow of life. It’s relapsing and picking yourself up off the ground. It’s reaching out to people because you need a hand. It’s being honest with yourself, trusting yourself, respecting yourself.