The Importance of Taking Time for Ourselves in the Outdoors – Changing Perceptions
When I first proposed this blog topic to some of my fellow Betties, I wanted to start it off in a much different way than I am going to. I was going to start by telling you about my own habits of working too much for other people, and giving more than I received.
But then, I got an e-mail.
You see, as a newer chapter of Bold Betties, I wanted to get the word out to as many women as possible in as many different formats as possible that we exist. That there is a group of women that support one another, that understand getting out of your comfort zone can be scary and intimidating, and sometimes asking for help or admitting that we don’t know is sometimes worse than sleeping outside on top of a fire ant hill. (By the way, if you haven’t experienced the joy of fire ants, let me just say – it isn’t pleasant).
I’m passionate about supporting other women. Other people, actually. I graduated college with an engineering degree in manufacturing; many times I was the only woman in a class of 20+ students. In a male dominated field I’ve had to prove myself over and over. At almost 40 years of age and in mid-career, I still have to fight perceptions daily.
So with that passion, I want to grow the chapter however I can within a budget. I perused a few options, and realized that Craig’s List still existed, and has a community section for “activity partners”. Basically, a place for people looking for others to do activities with them. BINGO! A perfect place to put a quick posting about Bold Betties existing, what we’re all about, and how to join. And it’s FREE! Tappity tappity tap cut and paste and soon a post appeared. At 10PM on a weeknight, mind you.
Around 2AM (I work nights, awful stuff I might add), I checked my personal e-mail. I had a response to the Craig’s List add already, but from a male’s name. His message? “Sounds like a group of women with whiskers”.
Whoa, did I read that right? Yup, I sure did.
My first thought was who in the hell does this troglodyte think he is? My second though was an answer to my own question – probably a pimple faced teenager who hasn’t ever had a date, sitting in his parent’s basement waiting for mommy to pick out his clothes for school for tomorrow. I mean, come on, he’s trolling Craig’s List for goodness sakes.
To say I was angry at first is an understatement. A few breaths later and I laughed a bit, telling myself that it was ridiculous to get angry at an insignificant little bug that is sitting behind a keyboard trying to get a rise out of me.
My thoughts didn’t stop there, though. I sobered up, and actually got concerned. An ad about women supporting one another in the outdoors gave an unknown “male” (let’s just assume) the above perception? THAT was alarming.
It made me pause, and drove me to my own keyboard. It was past time I wrote on how important it is for women to take time for themselves. And doing it with activities that they enjoy, whether the perception is that it is a “male dominated” activity or not.
I love the outdoors, especially camping and scuba diving. I love the freedom and solitude, connecting with something bigger than myself while also in an environment that I can’t control. When in the wild or underwater, I just have to roll with it.
By focusing on the activity, I get to focus on me. Accomplishing something that I was afraid of, or clueless to, is so freeing. I come back home with a sense that I CAN do anything. That I don’t have to know it all, but I can learn. I can achieve it. I come back as a better version of me.
Through my outdoor activities, I’ve learned more about myself in my late 30s than I learned between the ages of 18 – 35. I’ve learned to stop being quite so stubborn and ask for help, or identify an expert to learn from. By doing that, it doesn’t make me less able, it makes me MORE able because I gain a new skill. I continue to learn and grow.
Now, how does that tie into the pre-pubescent keyboard warrior I mentioned above? By adding to my skills in various “boy stuff”, I help change perceptions. Outdoor activities aren’t for “boys”. Activities in general shouldn’t be labeled as “boy things” and “girl things”. As women, we would be up in arms protesting if anyone blatantly said that an activity was a “girl thing”; how do you feel if I said that cooking dinner was the woman’s job? Hmmmm?
So, why do we allow the perception that making a fire or pitching a tent is for boys? For us women to make a difference and change the mindset that 1) activities that are not anatomically driven can be assigned to a certain sex and 2) that it is bad for women to take time for themselves – we have to ACT. We have to DO it.
It ISN’T wrong to take “me time”. We all need it; don’t feel guilty. Investing in yourself is just as important as investing your money for retirement. Learning new things, especially when out of your comfort zone, can help your self-confidence. It makes you a better mother, partner, sister, aunt, friend. Knowing yourself is a powerful thing; being the example that it can be done without taking away from any other part of your life, actually adding to those other roles you take on, can change perceptions. By taking time for yourself, you not only inspire other women in generations before and after you, but you affect the men and boys too.
Now, to wait and see what other fun inbox goodies I get in the next few days.
Discover your bold ladies! Change the world one bold activity at a time.