Mara here. I love this post by Chief Adventure Officer Annie! I have often felt like I don’t belong in the outdoor community because I don’t measure up to what I see on Instagram. But that really doesn’t matter does it?
I’ve always had a yearning for travel, exploring new places and plotting new adventures. This yearning also came with a counterpart, feeling out of place in a world full of fit, well put together outdoor types on display across the internet and ever growing social media. Those outdoor types who do bother to portray themselves in an less than glamorous light with unbrushed hair & dirty faces, seemed more rugged and hearty in the outdoor world than I could ever hope to achieve or experience myself.
You see, I don’t have an epic tale of hiking mile after mile, day after day or even a tale or an Instagramable pic of some hard to reach seldom seen natural wonder. Nothing about me or what I do in this industry or outdoors elevates me to a level of what I viewed as equal to what is portrayed to me on the internet.
The time and place in which I was raised was not as lucrative as what was for those just a few years younger than I or for those miles away. The internet was just created as I exited formal education, the outdoor industry was an infant compared to it’s towering influence today and completely unknown to me though I grew up outdoors.
I’ve always been outgoing, a people person but I’ve also always felt rejected and like I didn’t fit in either so when I applied to become an Ambassador for Like A Woman it was in a sense a huge step outside my comfort zone. I’d only been blogging a year, my own social media page had previously been only a photo chronicle of my adventures, travels and explorations so when comparing myself to others, I felt inferior, like I was a child again, standing all alone in a vast empty cornfield of the rural countryside in which I grew up. Even the corn stalks were gone, already harvested, the only remnants of the long gone “fruit of the field” was the nubby stubs of stalks left behind…..and me.
I was accepted and not just my application for Ambassadorship but I was accepted. My rural, country bumpkin, poor as dirt ass was accepted into this weird wild little sisterhood of women! Do you know what it took? Nothing more than being open to new things and being myself.
I’ve always been open and ready for more. Adventure & explore a new place? Sure!! Find & hike a new trail? Let’s go! Drive 15 hours to spend a weekend somewhere new? Sign me up! Meet strange women in the woods to go hiking? Why not?! Apply to be an a part of a site for outdoor women? Hell yes!
This openness and drive led me from Ambassador, to Brand Relations Manager, to now Chief Adventure Officer, from that lonely cornfield to friends around the globe. I feel I can go almost anywhere and I have a friend to stand with me.
Did becoming an Ambassador for Hike Like A Woman alone do all this? No, it only opened the door. I had to not only walk through it but decide how I was going to do it. Did I want to pretend to be something I’m not in order to be more appealing online and in the outdoor world? Nope, I waltzed right in as myself, with not just an open heart and mind but also a willingness to work hard.
I’ve come to learn every journey is different, one may appear better than your own, especially when displayed with little to no backstory and painted perfectly but when it comes down to it, nothing is better than being me. I will never be that outdoor woman perfectly poised, with epic tales of long through hikes, arduous mountain climbs, and glamorous Instagram posts and that’s just fine with me.