To be honest, I have sometimes wondered if people who talk about their incessant love for the outdoors are lying.
I recall writing in a blog or Instagram post about how “I’ve loved the outdoors since I was a kid,” when in reality, I preferred reading, drawing, playing with my dad’s cameras and audio equipment to create my own video shows, and other non-outdoorsy things.
To be clear: I loved going on family trips to go camping in Big Bend or Cedar Hill State Park. We lived in Dallas, TX which is as flat as you can get, so any type of change in the shape of the land was exciting.
I still remember my first trip to Colorado, begging my dad to pull over somewhere on I-70 so I could climb up the mountain we were driving next to (it was just a bunch of scree). I remember my mom being relieved because it meant my dad would be pulling over, and quit shooting video while driving at the same time. Mind you: this was in the 90s, so he was holding a hunk of a camera out the window on a gnarly section of I-70 with no railings.
Waking up in my tent, unzipping the fly and stepping out into the crisp, cool morning air is still one of my favorite ways to wake up. Just not in the summer.
When I moved to Boulder in 2014, I was in a trance.
I was under the influence of the”I’m a yogi,” movement and the “I’m sooo outdoorsy,” movement – thank you social media.
I was vulnerable, needed change, and had quit drinking for the first time.
The outdoors welcomed me, because the outdoors welcomes everyone. You can always count on that.
So did social media popularity: I was contacted by brands like NEMO, Mountain Hardwear, and some random startups that wanted me as an “ambassador,” or “influencer.” These terms were new to me, but they fed my ego!
My friends and family back home in Texas constantly reminded me that they were living vicariously through me – and, “wow, you’re such a great photographer!” (But it’s just so easy to take a good picture when you live somewhere gorgeous like Colorado!)
The outdoors and the mountains of Colorado were exactly what I needed, right at the exact time.
I am not sure when I started outgrowing things, but I do know I began to feel unhappy, itchy, not in my place, and flighty.
If you’re curious as to how my state of happiness is: pay attention to how often I am being hyper-critical of someone or something. I now know this about myself: when I am unhappy, I begin to seek out ways to insert how much smarter I am or how logically hypocritical something is.
That began happening. A lot.
Event before I moved back to Texas – I was very vocal on Twitter about all the fallacies in the outdoor industry that made no sense, about how silly it was that people drove cards and claimed the title “environmental activist,” etc.
I was being a TURD.
We all know someone who shouts so loud, all the time, about everything and nothing, so that eventually all you hear is static or nothing at all – that was me.
While I was in Texas, I dipped into the worst depression I’ve had in awhile. I was drinking a lot. I wasn’t productive.
I blamed everything on the fact that I was in Texas, land of flatness, oil, and humidity. I felt that if I could go back to the mountains, things would be better for me.
So I left. Again.
I moved back to Colorado, to a nice little townhouse in Golden and joined a band and sold my car.
Golden is nestled in the lovely foothills of the Front Range, about 13 miles outside of Denver.
Joining the band meant practice in Lakewood and gigs in the city.
I started to remember a version of myself that had been buried while I romped in the mountains: a wide-eyed artist with a knack for photography, writing poetry, and staying up past 2am reading The Paris Review and drinking tea with her cats.
My self-funded first trip was in 2007 and I visited New York City. It’s still one of my most memorable trips.
I remember not knowing that you could take a bus from the airport and hailed an $80 cab my first night there. Oops.
I remember how exciting it was to discover the bars stayed open until 4am (this was before hangovers affected me).
I remember being on top of the Empire State Building: the wind, the clarity of the city, and my reflection in the mirror installed up there.
I remember staying with my friend Beka, and her black-and-white tiled kitchen floor, her narrow bathroom, the sound of someone in her building playing a sax in the morning…
I FELL IN LOVE.
When I returned to Texas, I began planning my move to NYC. At the time, I was in college working a bartending job and figured I could easily make the move to the Big Apple with those skills.
Money was an issue. So that dream faded.
Then I got a DUI in 2009. Dropped out of college, and found myself in a rut.
It would not be until 10 years after my trip to NYC that I rediscovered my love for city-life.
I moved from Golden to Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to be closer to venues, to rely less on $10 Lyft rides, and have my own place again.
I started dressing less like someone from Boulder: yoga pants, Chacos, and flannel; and more like the version of myself from ten years ago: black outfits and band t-shirts.
Music begin to be my priority over mountains again. I started feeling less guilty about not going for a trail-run on a pretty day: I was happy going to the park to read or jog.
I began to realize that anytime I felt annoyed by people in the outdoor world it was because I just didn’t fit there anymore.
When you outgrow something, there will be feelings of discomfort – and you have to make the call to move on.
The mountains were a necessary phase in my life: but for me, they were a phase – a stepping-stone to where I need to be and where I belong.
Staying and existing in my own lane feels amazing and I am validated daily that I’m IN MY LANE (I learned that phrase from one of my best friends Erin Sullivan).
Many people on this blog and my social media channels followed me for outdoor inspiration – but I’ve moved on from that.
It’s slowly made itself obvious on my Instagram – I post city-scapes more than anything now. The city is so inspiring to me. My neighborhood is old, so there are treasures around every corner worth sharing.
I let the idea of “well I live in Colorado, so I’m supposed to be obsessed with the outdoors,” keep me from allowing my love of cities flourish.
Seeing people online talk about how “awful,” cities were because there were “no trees or trails,” made me feel like I was stupid for having an affinity for the concrete jungle.
Well, you can have it both ways. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just limiting themselves. We live in a grey world – not a black and white world. Open yourself up to experiencing something outside of what you already know and love.
As I type this, I’m planning a trip to NYC again soon. This year have been ROUGH for me. If you read this blog, you know that I lost my job and went broke. You may not know that I have jumped back into freelancing full-time, launched a course, got hired to do marketing for TEDxMileHigh, and am starting a podcast about freelance life (if you’re interested in being featured, go here).
NYC is special to me for many reasons and I want to celebrate the fact that I made it through this year by visiting one of my favorite cities in America, if not the world. (Paris may be my absolute favorite).
What I’m trying to say with this blog is that you will grow into things and you will grow out of them. You will feel awkward, just like you did when you were a teenager, when you start to grow out of them. You will feel out-of-place, because you are in-between places.
Fighting against my growth made things incredibly difficult for me. Now that I see it, I see how silly it was – but I needed to learn this.