Friday, March 14, 2014

On the (dis)advantages of restlessness and excitement

Only about one month left. Doubts arise. Was it the right thing to do? What about my job? What am I going to do when I come home? I deliberately stepped out of cozy security into a great risk. Rent is not going to pay itself. What if I get hurt early on and have to cancel my hike? Fears pop up everywhere. And yet excitement is greater than it ever was before.

A friend of mine recently posted an article about her Top Five PCT Fears. While she focuses on her fears about the hike itself, I'm constantly becoming more and more nervous about everything except the journey. The trail will be dealt with. I did it before, I can do it again. I have the experience. I have the knowledge. But the closer I get to my actual start date, the more a certain type of restlessness arouses me. It's not the kind of restlessness you feel after you packed your suitcase and worry about having forgotten something on your way to the airport. It's a strange agitation about the unknown ahead. The unknown after the trail, that is. Do you know this feeling when you think your mind is playing tricks on you? Every time people told me they'd be concerned about their career when making a commitment for a project like this, I responded with something along the lines of "I'll work that out later" and "I'll see about that when I get home". Now that everyone has accepted my decision it is me who's getting worried. So, why am I still determined to pull this through? It's not yet too late to abort the mission, right?

By avoiding every risk you'll never reach your destination.

That might be true. But it's not the point. The point is: I've gone through these thoughts before. I've made up my mind and I discovered that fears about certain risks turn out to be unfounded once you've faced them. As I'm writing this blog post something really important pops into my mind: today marks my fourth Appalachian Trail anniversary. On March 14, 2010 I stood at the base of Amicalola Falls in Georgia, committed to hike to Maine. And that is what I did. I hiked clear across the east coast to Mount Katahdin in Maine! What direction my life would've gone in to if I hadn't done this, I cannot know. Nobody does. But it's wrong to automatically assume that I would've been better off if I hadn't done it.
Prior to my AT thru-hike I had the very same concerns, mostly due to other people expressing their worries about it. Guess what? I'm still here. I'm still alive. I'm really not at liberty to tell you how to live your life, but let me give you one little piece of advice: some risks are meant to be contested! With that attitude, who's going to stop you from fulfilling your dreams?


  1. Big rewards come to those who take big risks. Great post and excited to follow the blog!

    Conan Klauk

  2. You made it, on the AT. If you don't make it that doesn't make you a failure. It means you tried and got to see beautiful places. That's more than most people can say.

    See you in Oregon! If you are flying into SF Give us a buzz. Direct flights from Frankfurt to SFO. We are 10 minutes drive or 4 miles walk from the airport.

    1. I've already booked my flight from Frankfurt to San Diego. We should keep in touch so we can meet in a trail town. It'd be a shame if we ran into each other in the middle of nowhere ;)