My First Test and Doubting Everything

Ok. I made it through 5 solid days in the mountains without a trace of anxiety, strangerdanger warnings in my head or doubt or fear about any of it. Then we went to San Fran. Then things got weird.

Leaving the solace of mountain life is tough. 5 days of a beautiful rhythm of coffee in the morning, lunch, afternoon hike, dinner with Paul in the little sleepy town of Tahoe City melted all the stress I stored in my neck all school year. It was like it was never there. And then we headed to the bay to do some exploring of what is now 3.5 hours away.

The traffic, the people, the noise, city life. It made me feel panicky again. All that worry, doubt, hesitation, crept up and leapt onto my nervous system, like a cat attacking a taco.

There I was, once again, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, unable to leave my hotel room.

Having noodly nerves really blows sometimes.

But it turned out okay. I married the best dude who got snacks from CVS and we spent a wonderful relaxing lazy Friday night in our awesome hotel room and watched Nat Geo and ate cookies and candy and a bottle of $5 wine and slept in.

I woke up better, but not great. Paul's wish was to hike in the Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. Muir Woods is known for gorgeous redwoods in honor of John Muir, one of Paul's hiking heroes. But unlike our Tahoe hikes, this one was wall-to-wall people: some in tight cut off jean shorts, others in stilettos. What kind of hike is this? I thought, lacing up my hiking boots in the frame of my passenger car door. Parking was so insane that we had to board a shuttle bus to enter the park.

When we arrived and paid our admittance fee, it felt like a tree zoo. Adorable stroller-pushing families in floppy hats meandered down a wide, paved thoroughfare and we soon neared a "food court" with organic coffee and locally grown vegetables. You couldn't make a sudden movement without bumping into someone trying to get to the next tree and I felt that rise of noodly nerves again. Luckily, we soon found a "real" trail and started our ascension to Ocean View.

Which was, great. It was nice to get away from the pack that hovered too close and felt suffocating, but the 3.5 hour drive, plus an hour in traffic both days, plus waiting time for the shuttle and 30 minutes on a crowded bus to pay 24 bones to enter....just seemed unauthentic. The unspoiled wilderness in Tahoe just seemed so much...easier to start...and dare I say...better?

Great hikes in Tahoe:
1.) Park on side of road.
2.) Hike the trail or wander off to leap across a stream to get a better view of the lake/mountain.
3.) Enjoy the wilderness solo as you will probably only come across two other hikers, total.
4.) The only money you spend is on the snacks you take with you.

I brushed those thoughts away and tried to enjoy the moment. A beautiful hike on the West coast of the country with a husband I'm getting to know again was a wonderful experience. But, wow: I was excited to get back on the road toward my Tahoe home.

Anxiety lingered, but lessened being back in the mountains. After laundry on Sunday, we went to see our first possible apartment. It was insanely tiny and extremely weird, which was a major letdown of sorts. Then we had to talk about money. Do we up our rent budget? Do I need to lock down a job before we even think about getting a place? Variables mounted in my head, doubt, fear, money problems, inventing problems and the future swirled around like a dust cloud. Insomnia that I hadn't had since being here came back and I couldn't sleep, even being exhausted from an epic hike in Squaw.

I woke up confused. What does this all mean? Creating a budget, very conservative and planning for mostly everything pointed to a pretty significant surplus at the end of the month, even with me making significantly less that I have been. But it didn't make me feel any less scared. Fortunately, I have the means to go into nature and be quiet and wait and dig around for what I need to figure out.

I just finished this amazing book called "Only Pack What You Can Carry" and for anyone needing to understand themselves and how to answer big life questions, it's an amazing read. The last chapters are about understanding fear. The author, Janice Holly Booth, writes about understanding her perceived fear of heights. She thought, for so long, that she feared being up high in the air, but discovered that her fear really comes from being on the edge. It may not seem like a big distinction, but once I read this, it resonated with me. Understanding your fear puts you at a better advantage of conquering it, owning it, resolving it. And that's exactly what I need to do.

This blog was created to explore the reasons why I'm afraid of life, and to help others deconstruct their fears in order to live a better life. And the root to my noodle nerves stems from a fear of failure. If there is any chance of failing, I crumble like an overcooked piece of pasta and fall into a crippling bout of depression. Knowing that, I've also realized how many things I've missed out on just by not being open to failing. And this is one of them.

I'm a baby. I'm looking over at the edge of a new career, with significantly less stability and a continent full of self-doubt, self-sabotage and the intense urge to give up and go back to my comfort zone. There are many things that I enjoy, and one of them is lying to myself about having control over things I cannot control. But fear only lessens with practice. You're never going to get over fearing the edge of you stay away from the edge. And it's time to go ahead and live on that.

I don't really know how to do that but I'm trying. I made a list of what I want to do for a living and all things pointed to using my English and education degrees. That led me to researching curriculum content writing/editing, which led to an abundance of opportunities to write, event plan, the list goes on. Nothing has come of it and I'm holding on to the very thing that got me this far: that faith will bring me to the edge and not let me cower until I learn from it. Reprogramming your brain to believe in yourself is a lot of work and it is easy to go back to the way you've been all your life: playing it safe. But I need a constant reminder that playing it safe hasn't led to anywhere but regret.

So instead of hiding in my hotel room, or hiding behind a career that just doesn't make sense to me anymore, I'm going to do something I've never done: trust that it will all fall into place. Nerves of noodles, or steel, it's a process that doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't just happen when you move your life and your pig across the country.

"If you don't bring it with you, you won't find it here."

Here's to hoping I packed some courage for whatever lies ahead of me.