Discovery of Nature, Rediscovery of Self

angel's rest columbia river gorge

My life has recently been shocked by major changes – a breakup, financial blunders, moving, and essentially starting over. I have felt almost manic with my plan-making, while I scramble to build relationships and allow myself to be completely absorbed in social life, so much to the point where I didn’t have time to appreciate solitude or do the things I do enjoy. I find myself using a jam-packed schedule as a coping mechanism – if you’re too busy to think, you’re too busy to care, right?

While detailing my chaotic social itinerary to a friend, he replied, “I don’t mean this in a harsh way, but do you have dependency issues?”

Hearing the word stung.

I have always prided myself as an *snaps fingers* in-de-pen-dent wo-man, and in the past, my friends would regularly confirm this for me. Some would go as far to admire me for it. I never needed someone to do something; I have always been just as happy alone as I would with others, often even happier.

But serious relationships can alter one’s dependency. Not necessarily in a negative way – it becomes normal, even crucial, to enact a dependency on your significant other. It equates trust, teamwork, and love. It can strengthen the bond between two people.

Of course, too much of anything can cancel out whatever favorable outcomes there were.

I look back on my own personal relationship – which, for the record, was overall great and to be frank, very fucking fun – and I recall all the times I took a backseat. I never took the reins on planning excursions or hammering out those nitty gritty details. I was always the tagalong, the learner, the one who “went with the flow.” I grew used to having someone there to do the grunt work and I became dependent on him to call all the shots.

Eventually, I lost this desire to care; I didn’t bother with getting involved with decision making, because I didn’t have to.

It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship, even when it’s a positive, healthy one. So when my friend blatantly spit out “dependency issues,” it all clicked. I was seeking to replicate that reliance with other humans. I was so accustomed to having this other half, I was having difficulty feeling whole on my own.

The next day, as I headed out the door for my 9-5, I noticed my hiking boots collecting dust in the corner. Impulsively, I grabbed them. Over the course of the day, I didn’t follow my recent routine of texting a dozen people. I didn’t even make an attempt to solidify plans with someone for that evening. It was freeing to know there wasn’t anywhere I needed to be after work. I hopped in the car and forty-five minutes later, I found myself at the trailhead of a popular hike in the area – one everyone I know has done, but I just never seemed to make time to do it myself.

angel's rest columbia river gorge

angel's rest columbia river gorge

After hiking to the top in a pride-inducing time (“You still got it, Alisha”), I sat at the top, cracked open a beer, and watched the sun go down over the Columbia River… All alone.

And you know what? I was utterly, absolutely, entirely okay.

In fact, I reveled in the pure solitude. All the things that led me to this exact moment were by my own accord. It was all me. Sure, maybe I have acted dependently and sure, maybe I find relationships to be a figment of serenity in times of pandemonium, but when it comes down to it, I am in the driver’s seat. We all are, in our own lives. Sometimes a spontaneous solo adventure and one breathtaking sunset is all you need to remind yourself of that; to remember your own sufficiency, your own control, your own capabilities, your own power.

angel's rest columbia river gorge



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