Detouring around life’s snags and ruts

by Emma

I am scared and have been since I was a kid. Fear of new things, people and, most of all, the things people say about me. It’s disturbing that the sayings I remember most are from when I was fairly young. Such as the fact I needed to smile more, that I was selfish and loved only myself, that being vegetarian, now vegan, was harmful to my health.


These all generated a deep fear in me that being different and following my own path was very wrong.

I’ve always held fear at my core, though it somehow became entangled with independence. I like to claim the gateway to this independence was my sixth grade teacher, a former Peace Corp member. His favorite thing was to pull out the projector and slideshows of his travels every Friday after recess. I loved Friday’s solely for the slideshows…and the dates he handed out, which I thought were very, very exotic. To a shy ten year old, these slideshows held the key to what would become an integral part of my life: adventuring.

Leaps And Bounds

At the ripe age of 15, I decided that gallivanting off to Australia with AFS Student Exchange would be a grand adventure. I spent two months in Esperance, Western Australia with an off-shoot to an Outward Bound Camp my last two weeks. I had the opportunity to learn about windmills, fish ponds, made friends with sheep, and became a pro at navigating by compass.

Since that first taste of adventure I have had the opportunity to learn poker from a three year old in Ireland, saw the oldest amusement park in Denmark, got a tummy ache from over consuming gelato in Italy, and more! These experiences slowly helped build my self-confidence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super shy and socially awkward, but have come to realize my awkward shyness can be a great strength.

And Then…

Let’s fast forward to college graduation. The world was my oyster, I was ready to adventure and take on the world. Lies, lies, lies. I became a seasonal job hopper and long-term unemployed recent college graduate with no potential leads to making the leap to the magical illusion of a ‘dream job’. What did I do? I got depressed, despondent, complacent and all that self-worth and self-confidence I had gained went straight out the window.

After commiserating with a friend, I realized I needed to get out of my rut and quick. Being complacent and unhappy was taking away my creativity and zest for…. well, everything. This time, my adventures didn’t have to be traveling over the world, but experiences and gaining skills in my regular life.

Making A Change

I started with triathlons, taking four months of swimming lessons to become competent, and completed my first half Ironman less than a year later. This became my thing, this deep intense focus on one idea or skill until I had it down solid. I turned my ugly city lot into a lush garden, honed my sewing skills while gaining a deep affinity for vintage patterns, to dog training and more. Over time, these short intensives have started to rebuild that self-worth.

Learning sew means being able to make awesome clothes.


Even though the nagging, constant of fear has been quieted, I have found myself headed in the direction of another rut. I’m fairly certain this is all one can do in life, preparing for the snags and ruts in the road, and eventually learning and growing from them positively. As for me, this time I’ve made a plan to swerve as best I can.

Emma is a badass Montana chick who lives among mountains and is determined to swerve around life’s pesky ruts. When she’s not plotting her next greatest project, Emma can be found training her deaf dog, Ruby, whipping up incredible vegan goodies and growing a million sunflowers.

First published August 06, 2014

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