Making My Teenage Self Proud

Like many out there, I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I was chunky as a kid, I didn’t like sports because I wasn’t good at them, I tried to ignore the uninvited comments of other kids as well as adults who just had no clue. But people can be so hurtful, even just accidentally, and I took so many barbs to heart and allowed myself to feel worthless.

Looking back, I wish I could shake my younger self. Who gives a flying fuck what other people think? Everyone is insecure, and struggling, and trying, and sometimes lashing out is how people survive. I’m not condoning that behavior, but I’ve realized that it was hardly ever about me, it was about other people making themselves feel better. Everyone has things they’d like to change about themselves, whether visible or internal changes, and keeping that in mind is ridiculously helpful.

I always wanted to be athletic and capable and competent, and thought that maybe I’d find opportunities in college. I found some, but was not as determined as I needed to be to overcome my insecurities (and other people’s BS). I still cared too much about what other people thought.

With my late twenties and into turning thirty though, I have gotten much better at drowning out the noise. I might look silly doing some things sometimes, but I don’t care, and neither does anyone else. I might be slow and uncoordinated and awkward sometimes, but I’ll be damned if I’m not giving it my all.

All of this is a long way of saying I hiked my first 14er this past weekend. I wasn’t the fastest, I fell ass-over-tea-kettle at one point, but I did it. With the help of a positive and encouraging hiking compatriot, as well as cheers from complete strangers, I made it to the top. And I feel like the insecure eighteen-year-old in me has never been prouder.

Working past some false summits on Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the Rockies. If you’d told me a decade ago I could do this, I would have laughed in your face. (Photo: Caleb Young)




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