How to Grow

In my old life, these first few days of the new year would have been especially frustrating. For one, the transition from the holidays to regular-old-winter-cold is usually a pretty depressing one for me, and I loathe the chores that come with undecorating. It’s a bit of a psychological punch in the gut if you ask me – just a tedious task that serves as a reminder that some of the most magical times of the year are over.

And then there’s the fact that I haven’t been getting much work lately. I’ve yet to be scheduled for a full 5-day week since the Christmas rush ended with New Years, and even on the days I am scheduled to come in I have yet to actually be assigned a class in the new year. Hopefully this is just a temporary lull, and not a sign of things to be. Otherwise, a part-time job may be in order.

And last but definitely most frustrating, it’s looking like a return to Canyonlands this spring as I had previously hoped is not going to happen. Too many applicants scored higher on the cert than me (and I scored a 98 – which means that most of those applicants were veterans who were not nearly as qualified but receive an automatic 10-pt preference on their score).

So, had the old me been writing this blog post at this moment, she probably would have been feeling very down and discouraged. But luckily, only traces of her remain.

I’m not going to lie, I have had moments of frustration where those traces have come to the forefront and wiggled around and had an affect on me for a moment or two. But for the most part, I haven’t been feeling nearly as disheartened as I might have expected.

I am sad not to go back to Canyonlands, as it holds such a special place in my heart and really, is at the root of all of these recent transformations. And I am frustrated with the application process and that in the quest to be ‘fair,’ the federal government has created a system that often blocks passionate, qualified candidates from positions they deserve in favor of less-experienced and enthusiastic contenders.

But I also see how many doors this opens up for me. I have been applying to parks all over the country in a sort of back-handed way, knowing that if I received an offer at Canyonlands any other referrals I received would go completely overlooked. But now I am finding myself looking, and things are looking good. So far I have received referrals to 8 of the 13 parks I’ve heard back from, and I’m still waiting on over 20 applications for the results.

And I’m not limiting myself to the Park Service either. I also have a teeny little idea about getting my TEFL certification and teaching English somewhere abroad for a few months. Plus I’m keeping my eyes open for any other neat adventures that may show themselves.

Canyonlands Shmanyonlands. I’ve been there, and I would love to go back. But I keep saying I want to travel right? So someplace new it will be. I also have the added security of definitely having a job come next winter, no matter what happens, as I have automatic rehire status with Vail resorts as long as I have a positive performance review at the end of the season – which in less I screw up royally, I can’t see why that wouldn’t happen. So even if something doesn’t pan out, the worst possible scenario is I go home for 6 months, save up some money, maybe pick up a few handy certifications, and come back here next winter. There are definitely much worse things than that.

As far the no work thing – yes, if it continues like this there may be a problem. But right now I’m okay with money, and a few days off just gives me more time on the slopes!

And to combat the post-holiday depression, I’ve found concentrating on upcoming adventures as a very potent distraction.

Staying positive is definitely something I’m happy for these days. And yesterday, I found out just how important a mindset like that can be.

After getting out of work early, I decided to go for a few runs, and unthinkingly found myself on a double black diamond that wasn’t much of a run at all. It was a steep, mogully, never-ending tree run. I was terrified.

But I stayed positive the entire time, rather than pointing my skiis down the mountain in fear, just hoping to get it over with – or, a little more true to my old self – sitting down and crying, I simply took it slow, and chose my route methodologically. I’ve always been a very rational and careful person. So at no point in my life might I have chosen that first, dangerous option. I’ve always been good at solving problems, but I always followed the same pattern in order to do that – I had to cry over it first. It sounds silly, but at the moment of reaching any obstacle I would immediately be struck by a feeling of complete helplessness, and the only thing I felt I could do was sit down and cry. This has happened countless times in my life. In fact, I can’t think of a major decision that wasn’t made in this way. Eventually I would realize that crying got me nowhere and if I didn’t move, nothing would happen. The fear of paralysis gave me the motivation I needed to let go of the negativity and conquer whatever needed to be conquered. It never occurred to me to approach it any other way.

I think watching my sometimes annoyingly happy-go-lucky boyfriend deal with his problems helped me realized that crying wasn’t necessary. As a guy whose grown up and earns his livelihood in the outdoors, he’s learned to value his time. In the backcountry, if you come across a rock or a river or another obstacle, you don’t have time to sit down and cry or be irrational in any way. You could run out of supplies, you could become disoriented and make poor decisions, you could get lost, you could die. Austin approaches the obstacles in his life the same way he approaches a big rock in his path. He takes a deep breath, analyzes the situation, then climbs the sucker with a great big smile on his face. It’s a much more effective way of getting things done.

Yesterday’s little adventure was the first time I consciously realized I was now approaching things that way. Was I scared out of my mind? Yes, but I didn’t let the fear control me. And you know what? I made it out totally fine.

Will I try that run again? Probably not. But now I am confident that should I meet that or any other obstacle like it – physical, mental, or emotional – I’ll be okay. I’ll be more than okay. I’ll be reinvigorated with the energy that comes from taking control and overcoming whatever life throws at me. And that will only empower me to take on more.

And that is how you grow.

2 thoughts on “How to Grow

  1. Good Nana. You are really growing up. But be carefull any ways. I send you a litlle surprise. I hope you like it. Lov from your ITA

  2. You’re an excellent writer. I really admire your ambition and adventurous spirit. I hope I get a chance to hang out with you, your boyfriend, and your other friends this summer, wherever you might end up!

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