Today’s post is sponsored by REI. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
I think that having doubt about who we are and what we are capable of becoming can sometimes stop us from reaching our full potential and becoming a force of nature. Today Mara opens up about being inspired as a child and how it helped her overcome doubt and fear, and led her to live her dream.
If you listen to the Hike Like A Woman Podcast, you know that Rebecca asks every woman who she interviews the same questions at the end.
If you haven’t listened, you need to because you’re missing out!
One of her questions is, “What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?”
I love this question because I would love the opportunity to go back and have a conversation with my 12-year-old self.
I turned 35 in March, and I still don’t feel like I have everything figured out, but I definitely have a better handle on it than I did when I was 12.
When I was 12 I would peruse the REI catalog and picture myself in the photographs on the pages.
That life was my dream life.
But for some reason, my 12-year-old self always saw it as a fantasy.
I never believed that could be me.
I really don’t know why I thought that.
I also read the magazines, Backpacker and Outdoor Photographer, and said that National Geographic was my dream job, but I never thought it was possible.
Around that age, I remember reading an article in Outdoor Photographer about a man who spent some time photographing the Amazon.
In the article, he talked about hiking in sandals instead of boots because he got foot rot.
I thought, “That sounds like so much fun! I would even take the foot rot.”
But, I didn’t believe that for me, such a trip was possible.
Why didn’t I believe this was possible?
I didn’t even think becoming a photographer was a possibility for me.
I really don’t know what I was thinking.
When people told me I could be anything I wanted to be, I took it as something teachers tell to everyone to get us to do our homework.
Part of my problem was that I had very low self-esteem.
I never thought I could be good enough.
I never thought that I could be a force of nature.
It wasn’t until the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college that I discovered photography was a possible career for me.
I was registering for summer school at our local community college and was picking out classes.
My mom said to me, “Look they have photography. That can be an elective.”
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah, I don’t know.”
She pushed me to sign up for it, so I did.
My photography professor had a reputation for being extremely hard.
But he told me I had an eye and was very good.
He doesn’t know it (I should have gone back to tell him) but those words changed my life.
When I got back to my university in the fall, I declared my majors of art and journalism.
I was really interested in working as a photojournalist.
But that school didn’t have photography, so in the middle of the year I switched schools and moved to another university.
At Arkansas State University I was able to major in photojournalism.
My professor was extremely encouraging.
I landed an internship at my hometown paper, The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., and then was hired full-time before I even finished school.
I have worked at the newspaper for 14 years now.
I have also been very blessed to be able to travel to and use my photography skills in national parks and national forest all across the country. I may not be working at National Geographic, but I am literally living my dream.
I may not be working at National Geographic, but I am literally living my dream.
I just wish my 12-year-old self-knew how it was going to turn out.
I wish she would have known that she can become a force of nature.
So, Rebecca, I would tell my 12-year-old self to follow her dreams and not worry about not being good enough, because she is more than good enough.