If you know me, you know that I’m an emotional gal.
And, probably, even if you don’t know me, you can somehow tell that I’m an emotional gal.
It kinda feels like my entire life has been lived in a maze of many turns, trying to maneuver around sensitivities or trying to understand the feelings that I undergo; or at least why the things I feel are so deeply rooted and often consume every ounce of my being so quickly.
I’ve had to consistently battle self-doubt and confidence issues because the phrase, “you’re too sensitive,” has been whispered, sometimes yelled, into my ears way too often.
A special few individuals over the years have embraced me and told me how powerful of a gift my emotions are, but more often than not, they have left me severely misunderstood or taken for granted.
My favorite thing about the Appalachian Trail thus far is, through accepting every emotion I have thrown it’s way, it has subsequently taught me how to be at peace with the feelings that I experience which are born through the passion I possess.
Through embracing who I am and pushing me to every possible limit, the Trail has somehow allowed me to become more, well, “me”.
It’s funny to think back on experiences such as seeing the first few yellow flowers popping through the tired winter soil or watching a precious mama bear be so instinctively protective of her little cubs and realize how much deeper I am actually feeling emotions these days or how such little movements in the earth can affect me so greatly because it doesn’t occur to me in the moment.
I’m not sure if what I’m saying makes much sense, but the level of emotions I experience is so extremely amplified out here that you’d think I’d be becoming even more self-conscious than I was before…but I’m not. It’s truly the opposite.
I feel more, I feel deeper, and I feel easier.
And because of those things, I feel at peace with myself.
Before Log and I started the Trail we told everyone that asked us “why” that we’d probably only know once we finished, but the reality is that we discover a new reason we’re doing this almost daily.
For me, a big “why?” has been to become at peace with myself in all of my forms.
You know…”the good, the bad and the ugly”.
I used to feel almost silly when I bubbled up in tears at the movement of emotions. I used to try to experience elated joy or sadness or empathy alone to avoid any sort of judgement – whether perceived or real.
But now it feels natural to experience a sudden influx of joy, to be overwhelmed with sadness, to be utterly moved with empathy and not think twice about it.
I’ve begun to realize that what humans have labeled as “sensitive”, nature labels as “necessary”.
Creatures, plants, entities out here along the Trail have instincts that ensure their survival. And when you think further about those instincts, you really begin to realize how synonymous they are with sensitivities in humans.
Watching the stirrings of nature change so dramatically in the shift from winter to spring while walking the past 1,000+ miles has brought me to such a clear and healthy self-understanding.
A mama bear is overly sensitive to her surroundings to be sure nothing happens to her cubs. Plants are hypersensitive to the nutrients given to them in order to survive, but also to human footprints or disease-spreading bugs.
Anything external has an effect and plays a significant role of some sort.
For nature, being hypersensitive is equivalent to surviving.
Why should it be any different for us?
I remember so vividly a moment around this time last year; I was at one of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham celebrating my birthday with a bunch of family members. We ordered two sides of guacamole, made at our table-side, but asked our server to make each one differently. I remember he listened to our requests so intently and, not having to ask twice, placed them in front of us in the correct order while reciting our specifications back to us. Sounds normal for dining out, right? For some reason, my eyes began to well up with tears because I was so touched by his intent and kind act towards us. I also remember apologizing to everyone for starting to cry and making fun of myself to play it off…
The reason I’m moved to tears from kind acts, from intentional hearts, from moments of unadulterated good in people is because it’s what humans need more of to survive together.
Likewise, the reason I am moved to tears when sickness overcomes fragile bodies, when hatred overwhelms individuals to inflict harm on others, when countries can’t find peace amongst one another is because it all interferes with humans surviving together.
Why could I possibly be ashamed of such a thing?
It’s so overwhelming to finally be at a place of understanding myself in this, but also to move forward in confidence that I can better help others through trusting my emotions.
I carry such gratitude for my Trail for teaching me this…
What an experience.