A few weeks ago I logged onto my computer, and with the semester being over and me being (mentally) checked out of work for the day, I had some free time. For the past few years I have recorded my “resolutions” on an HP Sticky Note which just displays it on my desktop for me to see whenever I log onto my computer. I glanced at it and continued doing whatever it was, got bored, logged off, and began pondering our dinner options.
Then all of a sudden I began to reflect on my resolution, grabbed my phone, opened Notes, and began typing. I intended for no one to read it, but I just finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed and it, along with a nice word from a friend, inspired me to post it.
Originally written on December 15, 2014:
Last year about this time I was reflecting like I tend to do. I looked back on the year and my ten resolutions that I wanted to keep and evaluated my progress (which is always a continuum). Then I went to post my new one and I decided I was going to “be who I am.” Then, without consciously meaning to, I typed the words, “Be who I am, whoever that is, and whoever that may be.” I looked at it sideways and thought leaving the extra bit couldn’t hurt anything. It sounded pretty good too.
Anyways, I didn’t know exactly what that meant or what I would do to move towards that goal. I knew I wanted to continue trying new things. I was 25 years old and had just had my personal version of a quarter life crisis.
Fast forward six months from that moment and I’m nervously– not in the typical sense, but because I was nothing but nerves– untying a figure 8 not from my harness and escaping down a trail and (literately) through the bushes to a rock on the side of a mountain where I forced myself to breath, then held my breath, cried, and shook all over with an emotion that I couldn’t recall ever feeling before.
Now neurologically I’m sure most of it was adrenalin and slight embarrassment, but thinking back on it what I was feeling was pride. Now, let’s be honest, I wasn’t proud of my repelling skills or badassness like I thought I would be, cause quite frankly, while repelling down a not so high mountain, I panicked like a little kid.
I sat there off the trail on a rock cliff in the bushes with branches scraping my helmet, watching pill bugs travel across the ground, digging a trench with a twig, all the while hyperventilating, and I soaked it all in. I held my breath and felt. I had never been so in tune with my physical feelings before that moment.
Time passed and I truly have no idea how long and then a (now) friend came by and asked how I was and if I was okay, but all I can hear her asking me in an echoing fashion is “Do you just want to be alone?” And I can still feel my head nod. She left. One day I’ll write about how much that meant to me.
Shortly after that, Michelle, our counselor, came to check in on me. She wanted to know how I was. I couldn’t form words at that moment but she encouraged me to express how I was feeling and I “word vomited” that I “never take the time to feel and I just wanted some time to take in what I had just done.” (What the??) She said “wow,” and tried to tell me how amazing that was and I just wanted her to go, I wanted to be alone.
So much happened that week that I’m still processing, but that 45 minute span of my life has been one of the most reflected upon moments of my life. I had just done something that I was terrified of doing, that I wanted to back out of, that I wanted to quit, and I did it. It was terrifying and oddly gratifying.
Overall, I think it taught me that I need to be here, in the moment, and feel my feelings. My love language is words of affirmation, but I need no one to affirm my actions or my being other than myself. I need no one else’s approval except my own. It’s amazing that such a cliché can be such a valuable lesson in my life. I need to affirm myself and feel the acceptance and pride that come along with it, and on that mountain I did exactly that.
Since that trip in June my life has changed in so many ways. I took a job at a completely different kind of school than I had ever known, with a crazy schedule and demanding parents, I commuted daily for nearly 3 months for work and for school, Graduate school only got harder, we moved to a new city, we’re buying our first home. All of these things are happening and today I truly stopped in the midst of them all and felt pride. I can feel the pride and take no part in guilt. I don’t need my parents or my husband or my boss to stop and say, “Great job, Jaymie!” because I can say it to myself and it’s finally enough. Most importantly, I don’t feel guilty or self centered in saying it, because I have worked hard to get where I am.
My dear friend Joe warned me that Outward Bound would change my life if I let it. He said I’d reflect on it and pull inspiration from it when I least expected it, and he’s been completely right. I hope that our rainy smelly trip meant as much to at least one other person as it did to me.
I am where I am today because of the hard work and dedication that I have put into my education and my career, and today I was overwhelmed with gratitude and pride, with thankfulness for all that I have, for what I have learned and for who I have become this year. The important part is that I paused and took it all in. I acknowledged who I have become, what my life has become. and I am forever thankful for that moment.
I’d like to thank all of the instructors on our trip, but specifically the ones below for helping me with my 2014 goal.
Michelle- Thank you for encouraging me to believe in myself because even though I didn’t know it, I “had it.”
Bob- Thank you for helping me realize that it’s a great and powerful thing to know and respect my limits. It doesn’t make me less of a person, it helps make me who I am.
Jeep- Thank you for sending me my mantra during tough times, “You got to; it’s the only way down.”
Michael- Thanks for being so passionate about NCOBS that I didn’t doubt for a second that this trip would change my life! Because of you, I let it!