Yesterday I downloaded Cheryl Strayed’s, “Wild”, onto my Kindle. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile, wondering what it was like for a woman to walk the Pacific Coast Trail alone.
In 2011, I did my first solo hike. It was small – just a day hike in Algonquin Provincial Park, as pictured above. No big deal for some, but a big deal for me -http://explorationproject.blogspot.ca/search/label/Algonquin%20Provincial%20Park. From that point on, when I haven’t been able to find a companion, I’ve been hiking alone.
But, I still fear. Every time I’m alone I think, “Will it be this time? Will what they warn me of come true?” Then, I feel guilty. Guilty for putting myself at “unnecessary risk”. Then I feel angry. Angry that, although male and female hikers both need to worry about the risk of injury while alone, it is women who primarily have to worry about safety from men and who are discouraged to go anywhere or do anything alone. This is true, I believe, even when the risk is small and can largely be mitigated through preparation.
This is why I love this quote from Cheryl Strayed, “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
How much of our fear is reasonable? If it is, prepare and mitigate the risk. But, how much of our fear is a story that society has thrust upon us? A story, that especially for women, is oppressive? If this is the case, perhaps Cheryl’s strategy could allow us to fear less and live more.