Where I've been the last nine months, what's changed, and where I'm going from here.

I recently read the book Girl Wash your Face. I know what you’re thinking, “oh good, just like every other 20somethings girl on the planet”! I don’t care if it’s a fad or if it sounds too cliché, but if you haven’t read the book yet – you should.

This book by Rachel Hollis is all about women needing to realize they need to put their foot down, enough is enough, YOU are enough. In this age of self-care and women’s power, it sometimes makes me weary that strong relationships will be broken because a woman decides “I don’t need this” or if something seems too difficult, she’ll walk away because she doesn’t deserve to “have to struggle like this”. By NO MEANS am I saying that if you’re in a horrible relationship you should just stick-it-out until it magically gets better, I’ve been there and done that, and that’s far from what I’m trying to explain.

I firmly believe in self-care, but I also firmly believe in the best things take time and WORK. Rachel Hollis’ book lit the fire that I needed to put my foot down and decide “I am enough” and that the dreams I have and the goals I’ve set for myself aren’t too big or too bold, like Goldilock’s freaking bowl of porridge, these goals are just right for me.

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So, instead of writing a book report about the book that you just need to go read for yourself, I’m going to finally get on with the point of this article. The last nine months I’ve been MIA on my website, my Instagram would say otherwise, with carefully edited and properly timed posts, but my website has been hurting. I started this site over three years ago as a communications project during my undergrad. For those of you who don’t know me, or haven’t been following the site for a while now, I studied mechanical engineering during my undergrad with a minor in communications. I absolutely love math and science and I’m good at them, but I also love public speaking and interpersonal communications.

In one of my comm classes junior year, my professor had each of us in the room say (in front of a large class) one thing we believed we were awful at… mine was writing. The damn professor then went on to explain that what each student had just expressed frustrations and fear about, was going to be their senior project… you’ve got to be f*cking kidding me… So here I was, awful at writing, and to pass one of the last classes for my minor, I had to create a blog… all while trying to design and build a super cooled air conditioner for the military for my engineering senior project… yup, that was my life.

What I realized as I started writing was that I may have thought I was terrible, but I absolutely loved it. I would work through all of my intense calculus and thermodynamics homework just so I could write another post about what hike I had done that weekend, or what recipe I was going to try later that week – I was hooked. Was anyone reading my stuff? Ehh sometimes. Is anyone reading it now? I have no flipping idea.

That’s right. Fast forward two years to the middle of last year when I realized I had become obsessed with how many people were liking my Instagram photos, and how many “visits” I was getting on my website each week. It was unhealthy and downright sad. It would completely ruin my day if I saw my last article had only gotten 15 or 20 views that day, was I not adventurous enough? Were people finding more professional websites than mine to start planning their trips off of? I had had enough. So now let me tell you what’s going on, I no longer looks at the “analytics” page of my website, why? Because to be frank, I’m not doing this for you. Sure, I want to help people find the best hikes to do on the Oregon coast, or the most comfortable backpack for a 40mile camping trip, but the reason I started and continue building this website is for me.

I work 50 hour weeks designing components for semi-truck suspensions and I love it. I know, it sounds like every 8 year old boy’s dream, I work for the company that designed Optimus Prime from the Transformers for crying out loud! But my work is hard, it may be in a beautiful building, and friends of mine may think I have it easy because I can work remotely when necessary, but any full-time job that takes you away from other passions is going to be hard.

So yes, this site is for me. It’s my escape from being an engineer that must keep her head inside her CAD computer day in and day out, who has to do stress and fatigue analysis to ensure the suspensions my team designs can actually withstand some of the crazy logging roads in British Columbia without the trucks falling apart. It’s my escape from one side of me to the other, and likewise of my job.

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After that longwinded intro and somewhat defined explanation of what’s changed around here, let me finally go into where I’ve been for the last nine months… plot twist – it wasn’t me having a baby like it sounds! I decided to recap the last nine months of my life simply because that’s the last time I wrote an article for my own website… NINE MONTHS! Ugh, sometimes I get so angry with myself… it that time period I wrote three articles for other websites hoping to “build my following” and to possibly get more traffic to my site. I have nothing against people who do that by any means, I have multiple friends who live off the money their websites make and doing featured articles is a huge part of that, but it’s not why I write or why I continue this site. I felt like I was writing for the wrong reasons, and not about topics I cared about or that I felt passionate about sharing with others.

Do I know what I want to be writing about from here on out on my site? Absolutely not. Am I going to sit down and have a cider while I write about topics I’ve been mulling over for the past few months wishing I had the courage and motivation to write about? Absolutely yes.

In the last nine months, so many incredible things have happened. First and foremost, the love of my life FINALLY asked me to marry him. (Sam if you’re reading this, I’m glad all the Pinterest hints paid off). I know that’s not something outdoor bloggers usually write about, but man am I excited and over the moon in love. (barf right?) My now fiancé has been my rock for the past four years, through unimaginable loss and hardships, all while keeping a smile on my face. He’s gone on hikes and adventures that no person in the right mind should have ever agreed to, but he knew I’d go crazy if I didn’t try, so he was right there by my side.

I thought getting engaged wouldn’t change much about our relationship, I’d still go sleepover at his place a few nights a week until my lease was up (sorry mom), and we’d continue on with our lives like normal. Maaaaan was I wrong. Being engaged is this weird phase in life where you know you’re about to spend the rest of your life with this person, so you better get everything out on the table now before you say “I do”. For Sam and I, that didn’t take much. I talk more than any other human you’ve probably ever met, and expressing my feelings usually isn’t that hard. But as soon as you say “yes” to the magical question, your thoughts start to really solidify and you begin to question if you’ve been honest with your partner all this time about who you are, and if you’ve been honest with yourself. What if he asked me to marry him because he thinks I’m something or someone that I don’t think I am? What if I’ve portrayed myself in a way that actually changes in the next few years, will he stick around? When Sam and I first met I was in a relationship that I should’ve ended ages before I did. Don’t get me wrong, my high school sweetheart was a gentleman and truly one of my best friends, but as we grew up we grew apart, and I wasn’t willing to let that go when I should have. When Sam and I finally started dating, I was so self-conscience and timid, but man did I have a huge smile that made everyone believe I had my shit together. At that point in time, I was going through a second eating disorder and a complete dependency issue. Sam took me in and did everything in his power to help, but sometimes you really need to figure things out for yourself. During a short time apart, I went to therapy once a week where I learned about the roots of my depression and self-esteem issues, and what I needed to do to rebuild myself and my relationships. After every single session I would open my phone to a text from Sam, “How did it go today? Is there anything I can do to help?” This man was my rock even when I didn’t allow him to be.

Fast forward through the rough times and the craziness that was college; we now live in Portland Oregon both working as mechanical engineers during the week, and doing as much as physically possible outside exploring on the weekends. I won’t say everything is perfect… I still want to strangle him from time to time and God only knows how difficult I can be, but we work together and I couldn’t imagine experiencing this life with anyone else by my side.

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In other news from the past nine months, I got a promotion at work and got accepted into grad school. I know that may sound like bragging, because I am. I’m proud of myself, and I don’t think that anyone says that as often as they should. I have worked my but off for my career, it’s something I enjoy and something I’m truly passionate about. Like I said before, it doesn’t get much cooler than getting to design semi-trucks and then seeing them pass you on the freeway with your designs on them a couple months later. I have made lifelong friends at my job, friends that I truly don’t know how I lived without their senses of humor and happy hour invites before meeting them. Having a tribe in your adulthood is so incredibly important.

I’ve also visited 3 new states, 3 national parks, 8 Oregon state parks, watched one of my best friends in the whole world get married, and watched my fiancé and my sister both graduate from college. Each and every one of these experiences have shaped me into the person I am and want to be now. I want to continue this site by writing about things I care about, and I’m sure that will change every flipping month just like the seasons in Oregon… and that’s okay.

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Where am I going from here? I have no flipping idea. I want to travel, I want to read, I want to work, and I want to be honest with myself. So from here on out I won’t be doing any article editing… yeah yeah I’ll still proofread to make sure my awful typing skills don’t spell any words awfully wrong, but I want to write and produce content that is painfully me and raw, original and true.

If you stuck around and read this long, thank you. I may not be writing this for you, and you may not have any idea who I am, but I appreciate the time you took to read another girl’s blog about her life, I hope you too have the passion to express yourself in some crazy form.

Rachel Hollis - if you by some crazy grace of God read this, thank you. Thank you for empowering young women like me everywhere to be comfortable in their own skin, comfortable to express themselves and be themselves. Thank you thank you thank you.


Happy Exploring and you’ll hear from me soon,

That Hiking Girl