There is something about being out in the wild, breathing fresh air, hanging out in the mountains, climbing rocks, and paddling rivers that fuels my soul like no medicine, TV show, or mall ever could.
Some people work toward the white picket fence house, minivan, and a set routine.
I crave adventures. I want my house to be a cabin, my fence to be edible, and my minivan to fit a bed in the back for long cross-country adventures.
I am the kind of person who loves shopping for leather shoes—when they are used for climbing, and buying shiny things—that help keep me safe up a mountain. The only rides I’ve ever bought were my paddleboard and my bike—and soon enough, a car to transport all my gear in.
I moved to a mountain town to be closer to all of the sports and activities that I loved doing. More than anything, I yearned for a place packed with like-minded people who searched for lifestyle over money. People who wanted to invest in memories over stuff and build friendships over a career. People who found meaning in the intricacies of the moment. After years of globetrotting adventures, I wanted a place to set up base camp. A nest that would allow me to continue with my adventures knowing that I would always have a place to call home—my very own Zen cove.
What I was not prepared for was the realization that everyone I came across was going steady with somebody else. Although a bit shocked at the beginning, I realized soon enough that being in a relationship was the quickest solution to always having a buddy to adventure with. It totally made sense, yet it made me a bit confused. As nice as it is to sleep with the person who you are sharing a tent with, everyone knows that we don’t necessarily need to be in a relationship with them to do so. Although more often than not, it ends up becoming that.
So, needless to say, it didn’t take long before I followed the trend and found myself in one of those relationships as well.
The first problem with being in one of these adventure relationships was the pool of datable men I had to choose from:
1. Peter Pans: in a permanent search for their Tinder-ellas. These are men who refuse to grow up. These men are lots of fun to have as friends, chill out with, and have the occasional meetup, yet for anything longer, they are not worth the investment. Their attention span for love and relationships resembles that of a kid looking at the northern lights.
2. Divorced with baggage: a breed of emotionally drained humans in search of peace and relaxation. They have lived through the ups and downs of relationships and want none of that anymore. They are perfectly okay to be single for a while but are open to, at some point, meeting a partner they can have a balanced relationship with. They often come with kids as part of the package and are hard to come along with because they spend their Friday nights watching Netflix at home.
3. In their 20s: although I have to admit that age doesn’t matter, in the end, it kind of does. Something about dating a person who has never lived in an era where there were no computers or cell phones makes me question how easy everything becomes for them to dispose of. In the end, the idea of making a relationship work is as easy as swiping left or right.
I eeny-meeny-miny-mo’ed my way into the third option and then quickly moved on to option one. I will save you the rainbows and sparkles and go straight to the heart of the matter: heartbreak—the moment you realize that the person you had shared so many experiences with is no longer there.
When the relationship with our adventure buddy is over, our minds immediately relate that to all of our future adventures being over as well. You feel as if more than a partner, we have lost our means to go on adventures: the 4×4 truck, the belayer, or the extra warm body on cold winter camp nights.
Being single in a mountain town required getting out that old phone book and signing up for all kinds of adventure groups and possibly getting a Tinder or Bumble account just in case. It demanded a lot of work—which at this tender age of 35 became kind of an inconvenience and more of a hindrance. To be completely honest, the idea of having a glass of wine on a Friday night with my PJs on is the definition of a perfect evening to me. However, it did not represent the best means for meeting people.
Needless to say, I was devastated. I felt that my heart was going to come out of my chest and that there was no other person who could replace my ex. All I did was look at pictures of him on social media having the time of his life, while I sat at home crying about not having any fun at all.
So, after a night out in town with a good friend and a bit of reason put into me, I quickly realized that I wasn’t suffering from heartbreak at all. I was suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
I didn’t want my ex back.
What I really wanted was to be in every single one of the adventures he was going on and posting about on Instagram. Because if social media is good for one thing, it is reminding us how much better everyone else’s life is compared to ours. It had nothing to do with my ex, his personality, or who he was. It had everything to do with the fact that all his adventures looked rad and I wanted to be in every single one of them. I wanted to ski, climb, paraglide, camp, and traverse mountains under the stars. Add a torn ACL and MCL to the mix and you have the perfect setup for a mountain case of FOMO.
I’d completely confused being heartbroken with the fact that I was not getting out and adventuring as much as I would have wanted to.
So what did I do instead of mourning over a person? When wasting hours of the day giving energy to it was no longer a thing?
1. Self-care is the first step to healing. Heartbreak sucks, but understanding what it is that you are missing from the relationship is key. Falling in love with myself meant giving myself the attention that I would otherwise be using on someone else. Instead of focusing on what no longer was, I re-purposed that energy toward my own healing and growth. For what it was worth, I began to break open.
2. I asked myself the following question: Do I miss him or do I miss the idea of him? Relationships tend to fill the empty spaces and voids we have in our lives, and when they are taken away from us, we feel empty again. Sometimes we think that it is the person we miss when the reality is that there was something about the relationship that kept us hooked. Relationships should be about balance. It is important to be in a place where we are whole, so that when a special someone comes into our life, they make it better rather than filling something within us that is missing.
3. I wore the sexiest lingerie for myself: I wore it to the coffee shop, while grocery shopping, and when hanging out alone at home. I have never felt sexier. It is a feeling I cannot describe with words. My bikini line never looked better, my legs were always shaved, and I did it all for myself. It fueled me from the inside out and made me cringe and curl my toes every time I thought about it. I absolutely rocked it.
4. I found a rad group of women to hang out with. Sharing my experience with others made me realize the number of incredible women out there who were on the same boat (or similar to me). Badass women who also wanted to adventure, hang out, go on epic backcountry trips, and do all the sports I loved.
5. I got out there: there are always movies, talks, events, and activities to participate in that did not require a life partner to go with us. I signed up for everything, from volunteer eagle counts to backcountry skiing clinics to Buddhist group meditations. I kept myself busy with activities that gave me a sense of belonging to a place but more importantly helped with my own journey in self-love.
6. I ate whatever I wanted, drove wherever I felt like, and hung out with the people I chose. I embraced the freedom that I all of a sudden felt by not being tied down. In the end, I moved to a mountain temple in search of adventures, not a relationship.
For about a month I had it completely wrong. It was not the guy I was upset about, it was the epic adventures I thought I was missing out on that made me sad.
Wild and adventurous women, you see, are hard to tame. They usually wear their heart on their sleeves and need space and time to play out in the wild. They like to feel the rush of being outdoors and come home to chill after, so they can do it all over again the next day. They are not into crazy copious amounts of partying, but would rather have a beer, put some Netflix, and call it a night. So when that all goes away after getting a taste the world seems to fall apart.
Just remember that it is all about perspective. No one but ourselves can fuel our souls with the fire we crave. Never let a person take away our peace of mind. If anything, use the situation you are in as motivation to do even more epic sh*t! And if what you really crave is unconditional love, get a puppy.