I’m not sure. I’m pretty certain that I’m not certain in other words, and I’m on a timeline. I’ve got two hours and I want to make to White Rocks, this new place I’ve never been that is ‘somewhere’ in the woods off the AT. What I’m not certain about is whether this faded blue blaze marking an even more faded trail is going to get me there. This is not a horrible place to be when you’re exploring a different set of trails, but…I don’t want anybody sending the back country rescue team out to try and find it either. I’m very familiar with what I’ve run so far. I’ve been on this part of the AT for a decade. White Rocks? Not so much. I’m literally looking on Google maps (something I never really do) and it looks like I should be able to get to White Rocks from my location. But there is no sign, and the ancient, faded blue blazes going off in approximately the right direction feels a bit risky, But if I don’t do it…I know I’ll regret not trying.
This seems to be a theme lately. Uncertainty in my life. There’s a lot of change going on. Some things that I’m choosing and some that has come all on its own. Either way it’s damn uncomfortable and, although I feel like I could choose to stay safe and secure in some arenas (doing what I’ve been doing for years), it feels like I’m trading personal growth for that safety and security. If I’m honest with myself and how I feel, change is coming, whether I want it or not. If I want to be in the driver’s seat at all I need to accept that with this change there will be difficulty and uncomfortability for sure, but there will also be the opportunity for something better.
One of the things that I forget, I think we all do, during periods of change like this is that fact: something better may actually come out of all this change. Sure, there may be a lot of things that we love to do, that have had exceptional meaning to us, that we’ve become good at or we feel we make a difference with. We don’t always want to see these sorts of things come to an end because we’re comfortable with them. They give us the emotions and the satisfaction that we want. But if we don’t make room for new things in our lives we will never know how our lives could be better.
One of the tools that we can use to comfort ourselves during these difficult yet possibly fulfilling transitions is to remind ourselves that we were not always in the place that we are in now! Think about it. There was huge growth when you were a middle schooler and then, all the sudden, you had to be in high school. Then, at some point you went and got yourself a job or went off to college. You might’ve moved away from the area where you grew up, which was terribly hard…at least on your parents… But honestly, you probably had a hard time with it for at least a month or two until it became the new normal. If you got married, changed jobs, had kids, maybe had the unfortunate experience of having lost a loved one, or gained someone in your life that means the world to you, all of these things required a willingness and trust in change. And the one thing you can be sure of, they were damn uncomfortable when you first had to make those decisions and let those things happen.
I know you’re all waiting in suspense, but here’s what I ended up doing: I took the blue blazed trail (new challenge). I figured I could always go back after about a half an hour if it seemed like it wasn’t taking me in the right direction (I didn’t cut all ties with the past). I left some markings along the path, because the blue blaze was so faded (I reminded myself why I was doing this and how many times I’d done something like it successfully in the past). It was a little anxiety-provoking, but, by following the GPS and trusting in my experience, I ended up at the White Rocks! I’m not gonna lie, the trail was pretty rugged, but the beauty of the location far surpassed the terrain. In reality if it hadn’t gone the way I wanted it I have enough trust to appreciate that the result would still have provided me with the opportunity to learn and grow that staying on the more familiar path would not.
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