After the breakup, one of the main things I was concerned about was how I was going to continue living my life outdoors. My ex was my adventure partner. He helped plan things. He challenged me. He took me places. Being in the outdoors became part of my identity, but without him – was I going to be able to keep it? The answer was yes. 100% yes. It just took me some time to figure that out. It wasn’t easy though.
I felt alone at first and a bit lost. I wasn’t sure what friends to turn to. I also didn’t really want to be around people. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to be for a bit. Eventually, that became suffocating in its own way. It became lonely. It became tiring. But I also wasn’t about that “inviting other people to go on an adventure with me” life yet. That made me a bit too anxious. It was too vulnerable for rejection. It was too counterintuitive to everything my depression and anxiety was telling me after the breakup.
There were different pieces that helped me reclaim my life outdoors. All of these added something to the puzzle. Something that I needed.
Making New Friends
The first step for me to reclaim my identity outdoors was an invite. It was an invite from a work friend, which turned into an impromptu two-day trip to Centralia then a couple hiking spots in New York. Which blossomed into an adventure friendship. It became us doing many local hikes together. Going on long day trips like to Mount Monadnock. Going on a three-night trip to see some waterfalls in Ithaca. She recently has become one of my main adventure people. I was lucky to find her when I needed it. It took her, overcoming her own anxiety, inviting me to hike with her. I learned that so many people have their own versions of anxiety, their own lies that their mind is telling them. Sometimes I don’t have to be the brave one to reach out, sometimes others can too.
Connecting with Past Friends
After the breakup, some friendships were hard to keep up with. They were hard because I had a pit in my stomach if I saw them hanging out with my ex. I felt a sense of betrayal. It was hard because I could no longer go on group trips with them. I felt a bit abandoned, to be honest. But that group of friends was also my core adventure group. It’s the group that I did trips with. The ones that have seen me grow into who I am these past few years. The ones that helped me. It stung to let that go and see them out there. My anxiety told me how they never cared. How they were better off without me. It told me to let them go.
I let those thoughts hinder me for a few months before reconnecting with those past friends. I wanted to look past all my anxieties, because, well, I miss them. I am currently making plans to go backpacking with a good friend and to go rock climbing. Our friendships are going to be a bit different now, but they still matter. I’m learning how to let the pit of my stomach go because I know they are not doing things to hurt me. I know they still care about me. I shouldn’t let that stop me from adventuring with them. They are still my people.
I also pushed to hang out with my friends outside of that group more. These friends showed up in all the ways. They came out for my birthday. We went rock climbing. I went on a girls weekend with them. These friendships were important before my trip but became my rock after the break-up. It was a reminder that I was more than my ex. More than that group of friends. I had an adventure world outside of them before and after.
Most Important Piece: Myself
The person that I relied on most to reclaim my life outdoors throughout this break up was myself. It was pushing myself to do things even when they made me nervous and I wasn’t sure that I could do them. When I was scared of doing them. When I thought I was going to look stupid. It was having all these anxieties and negative thoughts about myself and the outdoors, then showing up anyway.
I signed up for a rock climbing class in New Hampshire and went by myself. I did a ton of solo hiking. I bought more gear. I signed up for outdoor classes. I answered invites in Facebook Groups. I created events for my Women Adventure Wednesday’s Facebook Group. I went to meet-ups. I invited people to do things with me. Then I went anyway if people didn’t want to come. I created my own plans. I reclaimed certain hikes. I did things my way.
I was really proud of myself. I said yes when I wanted to say no but really wanted to say yes. I had anxiety but went to things anyway. I made new friends. I learned new things. I went to new places.
Mostly I came to realize that who I am outdoors is me. It’s all me. Who I adventure with and where I go will fill me up in different ways. It will mold who I am in the outdoors. But in the end, who I am outdoors is my doing. I hike for me. I climb for me. I don’t these things to prove myself. I don’t do it for other people to think I’m worthy. I do it because it’s one of the main times that I feel whole. That I feel like I can be whoever I am. It calms my anxiety and depression. It quiets my busy mind. It fills me with warmth and breeze.
Reclaiming my life outdoors wasn’t as hard as I made it out to be. I just had to be reminded then I’m outdoors for myself, all the strength was within me. And just roll with it.