Since I can remember, I’ve always been somewhat of a lone wolf. I have always detested team sports, I often bail on friends to do whatever my heart desires, and I prefer to take on new things solo.
I think PeeWee Herman said it best: “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
I’m sure my partiality to solitude stems from being an oldest child, the whole divorced parents thing, and my prolonged (and perhaps entirely inaccurate) theory that I’m “different” from others. It’s also possibly rooted in my anxiety of failing with an audience and a secret competitiveness.
The past few years I have battled with whether this comfortability with being alone, as well as my yearning to be so, is positive – or even normal. In some circumstances, it has contributed to the building of figurative walls; I have gone out of my way to accomplish things on my own and have undoubtedly deprived myself of potential friendships to do so. However, my love to be alone has blinded me to see how this is actually a bad thing…
… Because there are countless benefits. It has made me an entirely self-substantial human. I don’t need a partner to tackle a tough trek. I don’t feel lonely with just my thoughts on a long drive. I don’t lack confidence while camping sans comrade. On a run, my motivation is only stronger while solo. On hikes, I am more capable of syncing with the environment and reaping the mental profits than I could with a pal.
But as I get into more co-dependent sports – like touring and rock climbing – it’s hard to see the perks of committing to the loner lifestyle. Who’s going to belay you and give you on-point beta? Who’s going to help you shovel out a snow pit, or more importantly, dig you out of avalanche debris?
There’s only so much you can do for yourself; for everything else, there’s a buddy (or two!).
It’s been said that to love someone else, you must first love yourself. I think this can be fully applied to adventuring – we must be confident in our own skin, our own ability, and our own knowledge to properly enjoy the outdoors with or without company.
If we don’t hone our personal skills, we don’t have much to bring to the table when we head into the backcountry with buddies.
As women become a prominent force in the outdoor industry, we (as women) are frequently advised to not be afraid of hitting the trail solo, as well as constantly reassured that it is “ok” to do so.
We are having this continuous conversation about motivating women to feel secure with heading into the wilderness on their own, but I feel it is just as essential to encourage companionships.
Don’t get me wrong, as my blog regularly reiterates, I am pro-solo. However, while it’s important to feel comfortable on your own, it is often critical to feel comfortable with others too – we can’t choose one path, because there are obstacles in the backcountry we cannot handle alone, no matter how much we want to.
So YES, go on and tackle that backpacking trip on your own, but don’t forget to nourish your friendships too.
Sometimes some of us lone wolves need a little reminder that you’re not any less of an adventurer or any less of an independent woman if you share an experience with someone else.
It’s all about balance, and even more so, it’s about what makes you feel happy and safe.
Signing off with a Beck song…