If you so much as dabble in social media, you have no doubt observed countless photos of millennials posting pictures of themselves against scenic backdrops. Everybody is suddenly a weathered restless soul. If I had a dollar for every Instagram bio that included a Thoreau or Emerson quote I'd be on the Forbes list. Yes there's no denying it.....outside is in. It's a wave of sorts, and I'm just trying to get in the lineup.
Some cynically question the authenticity of those suddenly taken with wilderness, but I think it's fantastic. I figure even if you stumble onto a hiking trail for a great photo op, you're bound to find something uplifting. I would rather see young people glamping and yurting than cocooning themselves indoors.
Starting my own outdoor inspired brand has made me keenly aware of how saturated this space is right now. It has also led me to try to understand what motivates people to seek the wild. Is it adventure? Tranquillity? Companionship? Isolation? I know what it was for me. Validation.
Not the kind of validation where I take a selfie beside a mountain for a bunch of likes. Self affirming validation. Confidence building validation. Going outside allowed me to reinvent myself.
I grew up in Minnesota, which is a very outdoorsy place. With over 10,000 lakes you're bound to find something to do. I never really did the camping or hiking thing though. I grew up in the suburbs and played basketball. My first camping experience was a fifth grade camping trip. My sleeping bag got soaked. It was not fun. From that point on I pretty much had it in my mind that I couldn't be an outdoorsman.
I did that a lot. The whole telling myself I couldn't do things thing. I said I couldn't work with my hands. I said I couldn't do math. I said I couldn't be like all of the things I secretly wanted to be. I put limits on myself that had no legitimacy or merit. All I knew was that I could play drums and that I liked sports. The turning point was when I moved to Florida.
After getting engaged to my girlfriend from Florida, I moved to Jacksonville barely out of high school. I was resolved to try new things and be a new man. I loved Minnesota with all of my heart but it turns out what I needed was to move away and redefine who I wanted to be.
I started trying things and experiencing things I never would have back home. The state parks on Little Talbot Island and Big Talbot Island became a sanctuary for me. My father-in-law and brother-in-law patiently taught me how to chop wood and bait a hook. I started to feel myself change from a person full of "I can'ts" to a person with self belief and a willing spirit.
Tara and I went camping for our five year anniversary a few years ago. I chopped some wood, built a fire, and set up the tent. While these are pedestrian achievements for the hard core types, I was immensely proud. I had perspective on how far I'd come. I had broken through my own self imposed ceiling.
I've come to learn that while you can't be effortlessly good at everything, classifying yourself as one type of person keeps you from really living. Anybody can learn to love the outdoors. There's no certification process or graduation requirements. You don't have to ascend El Capitan, hike the entirety of the AT, or live out of the back of a Westfalia (even though those things are seriously rad) to qualify as an "outside" person.
So here's my question to you: what brings you outside? I'd love to hear from you. Email me, drop me a DM, whatever. I figure the more I can understand what you love about the wild, the cooler stuff I can make for you to wear while you're out there. Love y'all!