When people have talked to me lately about Outdoor Beginner, I’ve noticed more and more often they say some variation of “I love your blog, but I could never do that.” Or, “I’ll never be at your level” or, “what you do is so far beyond me.”
And if you think that, you’ve missed the point.
The reason this website exists is to encourage other people to try new things, even if they seem scary, impossible, or totally out of reach. Even if there’s “no way” they can do it.
I mean with that attitude, definitely, there will be no way you can do it. But I started Outdoor Beginner to take down that exact line of thinking. By breaking down the outdoors into less intimidating baby steps. By showing you that you can try something new. By giving you advice as someone who is/was also terrified of everything I’m writing about.
All of the things I’ve tried and written about (rock climbing, ice climbing, snorkeling, trail running, skiing, the list goes on) I did because I decided to swallow my fears and just TRY them. Just to see what would happen.
I have a fear of heights. And open water. And I’m generally a scaredy cat. But I tried rock climbing, I went snorkeling, I took a ski lesson and then took lots and lots of baby steps to finally feel confident three years later. And most importantly, I started realizing that a lot of things are much more doable than I had originally thought, and I wouldn’t have been so scared if I had another first-timer explaining to me exactly what things would be like.
So I started Outdoor Beginner.
A fear of getting started is normal. But this website is a place where you can set aside your fears and realize that you can baby step your way into things you’ve always wanted to do.
Outdoor Beginner is a place where you can see that you don’t have to be hardcore to be outdoorsy. A place that makes you feel comfortable, where you can get the information you’re actually looking for to feel like you can try something too.
I will absolutely acknowledge that I have the privilege of being white and having the skinny tall body type that dominates outdoorsy and fitness images, so I didn’t ever have to worry that I would stick out. Clothes at REI fit me. People in the park looked like me.
But I don’t have a magic formula for trying things.
I don’t have some superhuman strength or skill that allows me to do the things I love. I just tried things I was scared of. I decided I didn’t want to miss out on things I’ve “always wanted to do” just because I was a little nervous. Then, I started small. I put myself out there. I occasionally shed some tears.
This spring, I’m running a half marathon.
Partly, to prove to myself that I can do more than I think I’m capable of. I am equally guilty of thinking I “could never do” something like a half marathon.
But one day, five years ago, I decided to try to run around my block in Denver. I didn’t make it all the way around. I felt like I was going to puke. But I knew that it would always be that hard and unpleasant if I didn’t keep trying. And the first few steps did feel good before the nausea set in. And I wanted to be a runner, dammit.
Eventually I could run a few blocks. Then a half mile. Then a whole mile. Then up the hill at a nearby park. And a few months later I ran my first 5k.
I may have bigger goals now, and technically speaking, may be more of an Outdoor Intermediate. But I am intimately familiar with how hard things are when you start out, how scared and self-conscious you feel. How you’re not sure what information to trust because the people writing them aren’t newbies like you are.
And I also know the feeling of doing something you didn’t think you could. That satisfaction of realizing you’re doing something you couldn’t do last week, last month, or last year. That you pushed past your fear to get what you wanted. It’s a real good feeling. And I want you to have it too.
So don’t look at this blog and say, “I could never do that.” You absolutely can. You just have to decide to start.