Entering and surviving your early 20s can be both the most treasured years in your life, yet the most challenging. You could be cramming away for finals, diving into that textbook and wasting hours away on Pinterest to keep yourself distracted. You could be slaving away at your first “career” job, staring at an Excel sheet or suffering through a dry meeting under bleak fluorescent lights. Refill that mug with more coffee, nod and agree, repeat for eight hours. You could be under a mountain of stress; overwhelmed by anything that has a dollar sign in front of it, recovering from an unexpected breakup that shattered your heart or trying to play tribal council with your group of close-knit friends.
There comes a point where you just have to take a break. We become so focused on trying to get by in our everyday professional, educational or social lives that we often times ignore the best gift this planet has to offer: the outdoors. Don’t make excuses and don’t be afraid. Nature tests you. You’ll discover your strengths, what you falter at and a whole new appreciation for the natural side of life. Don’t be fooled though, you don’t need expensive hiking and camping gear or a week’s worth of salary to do this. Even if it’s just a short walk down to your town’s park, swim in the lake or grabbing a book and sitting outside in the backyard; you’re outside.
Want to step up a little more? Pack your car; look at a map, point and go. Spontaneous adventures are good for the soul. Bring your notebook to jot down thoughts and observations, the wilderness clears your mind and brings new perspectives into view. Ponder. Ponder long and hard about what may be shaking your core and troubling your mind. Bring your iPod and make a playlist with songs that truly make you happy. Bring your camera to capture anything fascinating you run across, but remember: don’t live behind the lens rather use your eyes more than the digital viewfinder. You’re your cell phone off or leave it in the car. Unplug from technology and the inundation of social media. Invest in a yearly pass to your state’s park system, that’s your key to some of the most undiscovered and beautiful landscapes ever.
Use this trip as an escape. Don’t be afraid to go alone. Be confident in yourself and grow even more independent. Being in the outdoors can be the best thing for you, and you don’t know until you actually go out and do it. With that, I’ll leave you with a cool quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, a famous travel writer and author of Treasure Island, “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”