It all started a few months shy of my 30th birthday. We were new in town and eager to hang out with some of my husband’s coworkers on a Saturday night. it was the night that would change my life.
Roller derby. I watched my first bout and was hooked. Now, I am rather unathletic and NOT graceful. SO I’m not exactly sure what made me so determined to try out but I did. Even after years of practice, I was NOT good. Just ok. But the lessons I learned while playing derby were invaluable to my life.
Ok, great Kelly but WTF does this have to do with women hiking alone?
The mental and physical endurance that greatly bolstered my self-confidence, can also be obtained through solo hiking.
Why does it have to be solo? Isn’t roller derby a team sport?
Correct but for me to get remotely good at it there was much internal dialog. I learned to push through the pain and ignore all the voices in my head telling me it’s easier to just give up. I’ve had these same experiences while hiking.
I assume many women find this self-confidence through sports long before 30. High school athletes seem to have a bit of self-confidence plenty of others don’t. Obviously this is something I never thought about before. It’s great so many find this strength within themselves so early. But I truly believe there are MANY women who have never pushed themselves to grow.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate my life before and never felt like I was missing out on anything. But the amount of certainty with which I lived life increased dramatically. I’ve always felt pretty confident in my job but not so much in myself and my body. That all changed.
I’m not saying to jump right into taking long hikes by yourself. You work your way up to it. Most of my hikes have always been with my husband. While I love my husband there is still much joy in conquering a trail on my own. Even short hikes by yourself can be gratifying. I don’t think I’ll ever do many (if any) overnight hikes solo but that’s ok.
The two solo hikes I’ve done (both less than 6 miles) felt like major accomplishments to me.
Why hiking? Why not some other sport?
While I think roller derby is great, it’s expensive, time-consuming and has a huge learning curve. Hiking, on the other hand, is inexpensive to get started, trails are close to many and (most) everyone can walk. What could be easier?
I realize that if you look into hiking everyone talks about all this expensive gear. You don’t need it to start.
Once you get going you may opt for different shoes or jackets but you don’t have to go buy these before you can start. The cheapest gear to even start roller derby is at least $200. So hiking is much more accessible.
While I’ve been out of roller derby for 6 years, I still credit it with the reason I took that 6-mile hike alone. Even though I saw zero wildlife, I still reveled in the power of my body and the rise of my self-confidence.
One of the greatest joys of hiking is knowing you’re seeing something not everyone can. It’s not as easy as just driving your car and BOOM “look at that view”. You have to work for the reward but it’s absolutely worth it.
Sometimes solitude is the perfect answer to all your anxieties. Seeing nature up close, not on PBS, can remind you fo the beauty of life and the smallness of self. Huffing and puffing up that hill makes you realize all that your body can do if you only ask.
While derby started this new more confident me, hiking keeps it going. Every woman should know she’s capable if she only try.
Remember that there is no one image of a real hiker. Go out and become your best version of you.