In partnership with Otterbox
It can be easy to feel like we’re “doing the outdoors” wrong.
From online imagery of colorful tents set up in alpine vistas, to the real-life piles of shoes spilling out of car doors at trailheads, to the smiling faces of fellow recreators who look more certainly like they belong – it can seem like just about everyone is more experienced, prepared, and confident than you when it comes to being outside.
While you don’t want it to, this overwhelming delta between who you know you are and who you feel you need to be in order to go outside can get in the way of actually enjoying your time out there. You might carry embarrassment and shame with you onto the trail, over the water, into the canyons, and it weighs you down.
The delta between who you know you are and who you feel you need to be in order to go outside can get in the way of actually enjoying your time out there.
But the thing to remember is this: nobody does it perfectly, because there is not just one “right way” to go outdoors.
You might not have spent that much time outside. Maybe you just started something new, or this is your first time sleeping under the stars.
You might not have all your meals planned. Maybe you bring leftovers from your fridge – the take-out you had on Wednesday because work ran late – or you might pick up a few groceries on your way out of town, narrowly avoiding rush hour.
Sometimes you consider it “making your own trail mix” by adding a couple extra bags of M&Ms to the prepackaged stuff.
It’s possible that you don’t know how people “free camp” and maybe you’ve never squatted in the woods. You might feel a little embarrassed that you never learned how to read a compass or build a fire.
You might not feel that confident on a bike, and the thought of a “fourteener” scares you a bit. You might be recovering from illness or injury, or you just might never have wanted to go outside until now.
You know how hard it is to make time when it feels like everyone else has so much of it. Each day out here is precious, especially if it’s hard-earned and long-awaited, and even if all doesn’t go as planned.
Whatever it is that makes you feel “less than” in the outdoors, remember, we’re all out here on purpose. Many of us feel that same way, for so many reasons.
We’re always wondering how we measure up next to the rough stone of a cliff face and how we fit in between the skinny pines. But we go anyway. We get outside despite the fears and self-sabotaging voices. We go with gear that works with us, with windblown tents and not enough M&Ms.
We go anyway. We get outside despite the fears and self-sabotaging voices. We go with gear that works with us, with windblown tents and not enough M&Ms.
It can be these very challenges that make the air so much sweeter – whether it comes in gusts of balsam at an alpine peak, a salty breeze at sea level, or warm wind rushing through fresh cut grass at a local park. In our labored breaths the rhythmic inhalations remind us: we are here, we are worthy, and there’s no wrong way to simply go outside.
Laura Hughes is a full-time traveler, photographer, writer, and host/co-producer of the Women On The Road podcast. She loves the human condition and the magic that happens when we choose to be vulnerable with each other, which often translates into her creative work. Laura is powered almost exclusively by kombucha, sunshine, and a few good puns. See more from her on Instagram @howsheviewsit and at howsheviewsit.com.