WOW!! Let us talk about a turbulent few weeks and a roller coaster ride of emotions! The idea of this hike only held on by a few strands, and admittedly, I was hours from calling it quits, and canceling the entire journey. Now, just a bit of a disclaimer, I am going to start out by saying that the exact reasons for this are very personal to me, and I will not be sharing those reasons. However, what I will say is none of the reasons are “good” or “bad” they are a mix of emotions and a mix of motivations. This whole experience showed me that there is a weird way life works and that no matter how hard we try we will never be completely successful at decoding it.
Over the years I have changed my “dreams” in life several times. Sure, I always thought about the AT in the back of my head, but actually pursuing it is a newer dream in the scheme of life. I touched on the things that I wanted in the past, with my career, a few posts back. However, there was more than just that at play. Shortly after high school, while pursuing my dreams of being a career firefighter and a paramedic, I found my self in a serious relationship. We moved in together and spent every waking moment together. I had “girlfriends” before this but this was my first real, adult, relationship, and as you always do in these situations I found myself seeing “forever” in our future. I thought I treated her amazingly, but as I would soon find out this wasn’t completely the case. This relationship expanded and grew exponentially, and as usually happens in these situations it also blew up and died in a similar fiery manner. I found myself blaming her for my feelings and my emotions. As I matured, I realized that this is not something that we can blame someone else for. We are responsible for the way we feel, and the emotions that manifest themselves, no matter who is at fault for making us feel that way. Anyone who has read the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”, by Mark Manson, this may sound like a familiar concept, and honestly I couldn’t agree more! I decided over the last several years since then, to not put my focus in relationships. I choose my problems in life, and one that I didn’t want to chose was relationships. Instead I focused on myself, and my career. During this time is when I decided to hike the AT. I found myself living in Youngstown, Ohio. When I first came to the area I knew no one, and spent more time alone in my apartment laughing at my own farts then spending time with others. As the time went on I began to surround myself with the people I wanted in my life, and between my new friends and family, and my time working as an EMT and later a Paramedic, I matured more then I could have ever dreamed. However, one thing I did not dig more into was romantic relationships. As life went on I finalized my AT hike and decided definitively that I did not want to get involved with anyone because I would be leaving. However, as life always does this plan changed. I found myself falling fast for someone, and even though it may have not been the best idea several months before I was leaving, I let myself fall for her. As time went on we grew closer and closer. Now admittedly, this is where the personal side comes in, so I wont really say any more there. What I will skip to is how hard it is for me to choose between this hike and being with her right now. I found myself not wanting to hurt her or lose her, and wondering everyday about what decision to make. Ultimately, I decided to focus on myself and follow my dreams. I’m sure there is a point where she will read this and she knows there was a lot more to this decision than just this. I decided to follow my own advise in life and let life happen. If things are meant to happen then they will!
So now where am I? Well I left Ohio March 2nd to head to Georgia, and I am still beginning my hike on March 19th. Saying good bye to my life in Youngstown and the people I surround myself with, has been one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to make. Whats weird about this one is it’s by no means permanent. I have every intention of coming back after my hike and continuing my life in Youngstown. I have spent many hours over the last week crying and being emotional about the goodbye, but this sadness and fear for the future and unknown have slowly morphed into excitement and joy for the upcoming adventure. Now I find myself sitting at my aunts house about one hour from Amicalola Falls, spending time with family and waiting out the next few days until I start the hike!