6/7/15: Into the Woods

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.

8 thoughts on “6/7/15: Into the Woods

  1. Excellent to learn more about nature, and yourself! And, you survived! 🙂 That’s a good part! Glad you had a good time! Any star watching?

    Helping others is a great way to help yourself. Maybe not letting yourself get so down and out first though. I would think there’s more to give when you’re taken care of first. Good for you!

    Oh, completing each other, “needing” each other, and all the other terms that go with love is not what real love is about. Complimenting, enjoying the same things, enjoying different things, being independent; how about inter-dependency? That’s more like it. It’s not a give and take – you should never need to take anything, however, as you do, you get when you give, without that being the motivation to giving.

    Yes, I think you’re growing up! Never stop growing, and learning!! Welcome home!

    Congrats on the new article in the Change Blog! Very interesting…Good lessons to learn there and your boyfriend had a great comment. No one is perfect, and punishing yourself for not being perfect is not a good approach. Also, pursuing perfection or happiness are both, well, not the best idea. Happiness is created by being who you are – good points and, not-so-good. Happiness is fleeting because you pursue it, get it, and then, it’s gone. Joy is in the heart and no one can take joy away from you. They can take happiness away.

    So, be joyful! Be you!

    Michael J.


    1. Yes, we stargazed quite a bit. I know nothing about constellations, but it was absolutely beautiful. We saw a few shooting stars as well. I completely agree about love- giving is not so much giving as doing something for oneself that ends up benefitting another.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I will pursue joy, as you said. Thanks!


  2. Great post!
    I love reading about your insights.
    Reminds me of a quote by one of my favorite authors David Foster Wallace: ” To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do this.”
    We all have to learn to forgive our flaws.


    1. That is a fantastic quote, and something I’m trying to learn to do. The only thing I can do to be gentle with myself is often to look at myself from an outside perspective and say “would I treat myself like this if I were my own best friend?” (answer: always no.) Thanks!


  3. I just found my way here from The Change Blog. 🙂

    I, too, love camping and spending time outdoors. (I live on a boat, so that’s kind of my life!) It is interesting the introspection you had during your trip. I am curious why you think it is, that you have a harder time caring for yourself than others?


    1. I read your article about moving to Texas and starting over, and it was so powerful to me. At this point in my life, I’m not in much of a position to make radical life changes (I live in my parents’ house) but I will certainly carry your story with me as I become more independent and find myself in similar situations.
      To answer your question, I think I have an answer that sounds right to me. Growing up, I was often told that I was very intelligent and talented. Objectively, it was true; I was top of my class, very athletic and musical, and well-liked by my peers. Rather than seeing myself as superior, though, I grew a different complex: I saw myself as owing the world more in terms of my services, and held myself to higher expectations than my peers. I expected of myself higher grades, better athletic skills, more insight, and, above all, to contribute more to the world as an adult. Now that I’m at a productive age, I often feel like I should be more productive and start changing the world and making the world a better place. I think in terms of extremes: if anyone could do it, I could. I incessantly put pressure on myself.
      Anyway, that’s background for the question: I think I care for others because I view them as more vulnerable than myself. I try to toughen myself up and see myself as always needing to be stronger, more mature, and more resilient than others. Perhaps I help others to make them seem vulnerable, so that I don’t see myself as so vulnerable in comparison. I wonder what childhood psychology prompted me to need to not be vulnerable, but unfortunately I’m not sure. I know that’s very lengthy, but thank you for the question. It actually helped me understand my reasons for caring for others so much more. Thank you!


  4. For me, learning about oneself is in a way the point of travelling. Yes, you do see new places, meet new people, learn new things, but in a somewhat self-centred way, it almost always comes down to you changing or learning so,etching about yourself.

    I can really relate to being “the motherly figure” in my friendship group, and largely that comes from the first camp that my class went to you a few years ago, when we were all new to the school. I suppose teachers are right about camps being an opportunity to create friendships 🙂


  5. I accidentally posted the comment before I finished, sorry!

    Anyhow, I also read your article on the change blog, and I founder truly life changing! Thinking about discipline not as punishment, but forgiveness is something that I need to do more of! Thank you for sharing your experiences openly with the world, and sharing the lessons you’ve learnt!


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