Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mis-Adventures of an Outdoor Addict: Twentynine Palms

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went to Twentynine Palms this past weekend with my friends Tara and Berkley. It was a climbing weekend with a bunch of folks from REI, and Tara invited me to try out rock climbing in the desert. I must say, this area of California is so amazing. It's like living on a different planet. The land is sparse of greenery but covered in sand-colored granite boulders with little desert mice and squirrels poking out every once in a while.

I've been dying to go camping since I moved to San Diego four years ago, so that over anything else was a great motivator. Plus, Tara said she'd supply everything--food, tent, sleeping bag, clothes--all I had to do was show up :)

We climbed, we hiked, we ate chili and cheese, we sat around a campfire and drank cold-ish beer. It was amazing. It was just so soothing to sit in the desert sand and soak it all in. There was one reason, though, that almost inhibited me from coming and I just want to put this message out into the universe in case there are others who may miss out on amazing adventures because of slight social anxiety.

I'm 28 years old, have lived in San Diego for four years, I have a master's degree and many great friends. And yet, I still have social anxiety that can ocassionaly be paralyzing. So many people may think that if you have it "goin' on" then you worry about making friends or meeting new people. Well, it doesn't exactly work that way. Social anxiety (I can only talk for myself here) is not rational. Yes, I know that people generally want to be friendly and helpful. Yes, I know that the worse that could happen is I sit by myself in a room (or in this case, campfire) full of people. Yes, I understand that I'm not the only one who doesn't know everyone.

Yet, the thought of being alone with 60 people I've never met before is terrifying.

Arriving to the campsite in the dark did not help (I can't even tell who I'm looking at!). Having my carmates head off to set up their tents while I was putting my boots on did not help (Where did my security blankets go?!). Waiting for my friend Tara to arrive in a separate car did not help (I thought she would be my anchor!). But you know what? I did it. I freaked out, I wanted to cry, I felt lost and isolated and scared to go talk to strangers (man I wish that lesson didn't work so well on me!). But I did it anyway. I made myself go over to the campfire and look for anyone I might know. And then I went back to the car. I made myself walk around the campsite to look for Berkley and my other carmates setting up tent. And then I went back to the car. I felt like an idiot for being so terrified for using the car as a haven, but I overcame it. I came out of my bubble a bit and made some new friends.

So for anyone considering saying no to somethingbecause they're afraid of how they'll look or how people will react or whatever it is that's giving you social anxiet, I say just do it. Who cares. Don't miss out on an amazing experience just because you're afraid. It's just not worth missing out on all the adventures that life can hold. Yes, sometimes you will look silly or lonely or whatever. But the important part is just getting out there and pushing your limits because maybe the next time you can push them even more.


Photo from pinterest.

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