First of all, I just had an article published on The Change Blog called “Forgiving Your Flaws”. I think you all might be a little surprised by it, or at least get to learn about a different side of me that I generally keep under wraps. Here is the link, and thank you for checking it out!
I got home from Yosemite on Friday afternoon, covered in scrapes, dirt, and running on fumes from 3 hours of sleep. There’s nothing like a 10-day trip into the wilderness with 12 kids and 2 adults who you spend the entire time with. I learned a few things along the way:
1. Caring for Other to Help Myself
Whenever I travel with my school, I become the “mom” of the trip; I make sure people are hydrated, warm, and fed, even if it means offering up my own water bottle or jacket or dessert. I put everyone before myself and make it my goal to do things for other people, but I only do it when I’m struggling with sleep deprivation or hunger or cold myself. It’s like a strange, backwards coping mechanism: I try to help others to distract myself from my own problems. If I can heal the world, maybe I will be healed in return. I often have a hard time being gentle with myself, so I employ this logic when I need a helping hand. It doesn’t usually come.
2. Surprising Realities of a Third-World Lifestyle
I’m not trying to say I was living the life of someone in a developing country over the last 10 days; that would not only be wrong, but so politically incorrect that I’d probably have to shut my mouth forever. However, sleeping in a tent, cooking your food over a single gas burner that requires set up, and subsisting off 2 pairs of shorts for 10 days is more comparable to an impoverished lifestyle than anything I’ve previously experienced. Living that way, in tents, with limited food, and drinking creek water, was completely possible. It’s not a torturous lifestyle. But it does take every minute of every day dedicated to survival; there’s no time to write a blog or study or mindlessly search the Internet. It made me appreciate the efficiency of my own life, more than anything, and the amount of time I have to pursue non-survival related activities thanks to the place I live and my financial situation. It’s the difference between stopping by Chipotle and cooking your own rice, beans, meat, and tortillas from scratch, extended to every single aspect of life. It’s far more than a 9-5 job to sustain a family that way.
3. I Like Views
That’s all. My mom used to marvel at views, while I sat idly by and picked at my fingernails or watched bugs crawling around me. The word “views” actually made me cringe at a kid. Being in Yosemite, though, I craved each and every view of Half Dome and the valley. Perhaps I’m growing up?
4. What I Want in a Friend
My best friend is named Bella. For a while, when I was feeling depressed, I shut her out a little. We still talked, but I always said I was fine. She was in my trip group, and we were able to reconnect a lot as we hiked. There’s something special about a best friend, in a different way than a significant other. We don’t need each other all the time, but when we do, we can always go back to each other and talk like we just left off. I don’t need friends who are with me 24/7, but I need friends who will be with me occasionally and fully, who are invested in me in the moments I need them. I don’t think we have a typical relationship, seeing as we are both very independent of each other. I think that’s what makes it special; neither of us needs the other, so our relationship isn’t built on deficiency and necessity. It’s built on the actual will to be with a person even though you don’t need them. I think that plays into love, more than we think. We often say to a partner: “I need you”, but this isn’t love at its fullest. Love is saying: “I don’t need you to survive, but I have opened a place in my life for you anyway and would love for you to fill it.”
All in all, Yosemite is beautiful. The cliff faces are austere, shooting up into the sky, all grey granite and pine forests. If you ever get the opportunity to go, take it! If you’re anything like me, you won’t regret it for a second. You might even learn a few things about yourself along the way.