Have you ever felt like you were not outdoorsy enough to be outdoorsy? Sometimes the outdoors can give the allusion of being for only a certain type of people. But as it’s important to accept everyone, it’s important to not prejudge how people will perceive you. Hike Like A Woman’s Content Manger Mara, writes about how she prejudged a situation that turned out different.
I saw a Facebook post about some people trying to organize a group to do maintenance on the trails in my area. I recently switch jobs and have more time to volunteer and this is right up my alley.
However, I recently found myself without a support group locally as all my friends have moved away. This meant I had to go alone. I’m not a terribly shy person. I can make conversation with just about anybody – especially if it involves the outdoors.
I started to get a headache by the end of work and told myself I just needed to go home. But knew this was just an excuse to not go, so I made myself stick with it. Plus, I don’t have any friends in town anymore so this would be a great way to make some new ones.
I walked into the hipster brewery a few minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start (you know, fashionably late). The room was already packed. And it was packed with ultra runners and mountain bikers. I’m just a hiker and I felt way out of place. This is definitely a crowd that is too cool for me.
I had a deep feeling of, “I don’t belong here.”
You see I’m a hiker, and hike a lot, but I don’t know if I look like a hiker. I definitely don’t look like the women in magazines, outdoor advertisements, or famous Instagram accounts. And to make things worse, I came from work so I wasn’t even dressed like a hiker.
I did a quick survey of the room and there were only five other women there. The rest were men. The women were petite and muscular – they looked like hikers.
I nervously looked for a place to sit and saw the best option was by three super fit, good looking, hipster guys. The inner high schooler in me came out. I winced to myself and thought, “Please don’t think I’m sitting by you because you are good looking, and I’m desperate because I’m unattractive.”
Self-confidence is not my forte.
I sat down and smiled at one of the guys and sheepishly asked, “I guess everyone in here’s mountain bikers or trail runners?” He looked around and said, “Yeaaaah, I guess so. What are you?”
“I’m a backpacker,” I answered.
I have always struggled with not fitting in with what I deem to be the super cool crowd. And I tend to put up a front right away and assume everyone isn’t going to let me in their group.
But that wasn’t the case here. These guys were super nice. And no, they didn’t think I was trying to hit on them because I sat next to them.
As the conversation rolled on, I was able to tell them that I had hiked the entire LOViT (a local 40-mile trail) in one hike, and might have been the first to do so. I got in some other credentials too – that I’ve backpacked in Olympic National Park, Big Bend National Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.
Although, I didn’t really need to prove myself as a backpacker. They believed me when I said, “I’m a backpacker.” And yes, I feel well traveled, but one night on the trail makes you just as much a backpacker as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
And although I have no motivation to run 100 miles on a trail in one swoop or fly down a mountain on two wheels, I learned a lot about trail running and mountain biking.
I also learned a lot about not prejudging other people, and not to go into situations assuming anything. I also chided myself to not assume people won’t accept me. I had been accepted just fine, and even met some cool people.
So if you don’t feel like you belong, slow down and think about the situation. You belong more then you think.