As bears do, I tend to hibernate from the Internet during winters (hence the lack of updates). This season, in particular, has been a whirlwind – I was adapting to a new environment in Utah, savoring an unimaginable amount of powder days, and succumbing to the ski bum lifestyle which involves slaving away at nights in order to play every day.
Many friends, and even strangers, like to remind me that I’m living the ultimate dream as a full-time skier, and part-time everything else. So why do I find myself often filled with a sense of regret? Why do I experience anxiety over what I didn’t do? Why am I overwhelmed with a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out)?
In today’s society, the act of checking social media has become fully integrated in everyone’s daily routine. We scroll while waking up, before we get out of bed. We scroll while waiting in line at the grocery store. We scroll while we are at work. We scroll, illegally, while we are in traffic. We scroll while we eat a meal at the dinner table. We scroll while we are in bed, waiting for our eyes to get heavy enough to sleep.
So if you’re like me, and following countless outdoorsy folks, you are regularly exposed to the rad shit everyone is doing – you subject yourself to the sick lines so-and-so skied, the summits of unfamiliar mountains, the weekends spent in faraway destinations, the freebies sent from sponsors, and a copious amount of #vanlife.
And if you’re like me, consequently, you are forced to recognize all the rad shit you’re not doing.
When I moved to Utah, it was akin to moving to any “promised land.” I had a laundry list of outdoor fantasies for the fast approaching winter; I was going to ski ridiculous backcountry lines, I was going to take an avalanche course, I was going to build snow shelters and endure nights of subzero temperatures to be up for dawn patrol missions, I was going to learn tricks in the park, I was going to ski 80 or 90 days, I was going to keep up with this blog, and I was going to freelance write for Utah-based outdoors-focused organizations.
To summarize, I had big plans.
As Murphy’s Law would have it, things did not go according to those big plans – but unlike Murphy’s, the “wrong” was not the fault of the universe but mostly, or rather all my own doing. I snapped my touring skis in the beginning of the season, which meant no backcountry exploring until I had the money to afford a new pair. I worked eight to eleven shifts a week, because the tourists’ money became addicting. And speaking of addicting, I was sucked into the ski town culture: working hard, skiing harder, and partying hardest. Many of my mornings were hijacked by hangovers that were “cured” by face shots and more whiskey. I found it hard to escape the bad habits because everyone I knew indulged in them too.
So when I clicked on my phone and did my daily scrolling…
I didn’t see people’s awe-inspiring adventures; I saw my own failures.
I saw the thrills and experiences I was missing out on; I saw a reflection of my own lack of motivation and drive.
With winter wrapping up (yes, wrapping up, as we are still getting powder days in Utah!), I can look back on the season without the foggy goggles. While there’s no argument that my time would have been better spent in the backcountry than in the bar, there’s a deeper lesson to be learned…
We are all on our own paths and we can’t deem our worth based on the ones belonging to others.
Furthermore, we have to stop letting social media control our lives; we need to use its power for good and allow it to motivate us positively. Ironically, when we scroll through our Instagram feeds, we are wasting valuable time we could use to do something worth posting about – although that shouldn’t even really be your objective for getting out there anyways.
I’m sure I speak for many when I say we let adventure envy deter our own adventures. It’s so easy to get caught up on what she’s doing or what she’s doing, that we forget we are the captains of our own ships and we can do whatever we want as well – and if that means going out with your friends, being hungover the next day, and not waking up at 5 AM to do a dawn patrol mission, then so be it.
Don’t be hard on yourself because you’re not “seizing the day” by Instagram’s terms. Don’t beat yourself up over having a job or a dynamic social life. Social media only shows you what the user wants you to see, and more often than not, we won’t see someone’s lazy day, Netflix binging in bed, and we won’t see them waking up in last night’s clothes with makeup smeared all over their faces. I promise, not everyone you follow is getting outside and doing cool shit every damn day.
Though I may not act on it as frequently as I should, I do have this relentless desire to live my life to the fullest and to make every waking moment count; I think it is a result of having lived such a dormant life for essentially the first 24 years I have been on this Earth. I am eager to offset this dormancy by doing, experiencing, trying, and seeing as much as I can.
However, when we yearn to carpe diem, it’s important that we recognize a full life is subjective. It’s how you define “full.”
It can, without a doubt, encompass those late nights spent making memories with the friends who feel like family. It can entail those solo days on the slopes, doing nothing of significance except shredding groomers. It can include the days spent behind a computer screen, writing out your feelings on the pressure to do cool stuff every day.
You know what else a “full life” includes? Mistakes. Wasted time. Dumb, pointless shit.
What I am reiterating is: We are each on our own paths, so don’t let another path make you doubt yours or cause you to veer off track.
Some days you’re going to wake up and do nothing, some days you’re going to wake up and climb a damn mountain.
That’s called balance.
That’s called being a human.
That’s called life.
So live it up, people! In your own way.