Total Beginner or Total Imposter?

Boston, MA, winter 2020

Dear Reader,

When was the last time you tried something new? I don’t mean like a new restaurant or craft beer, but something more significant. I have a lot of vague New Year’s resolutions (which I should really just write down and clarify to be honest) relating to new things. Two such resolutions are that I increase my overall fitness and attempt to make new friends.

My first thought was that I should get into rock climbing. My ex’s brother met his future wife that way, and a friend met a long-term partner (sadly, now ex) that way. Rock climbing seems to be the kind of sport in which people make meaningful connections, as there is a large degree of adventure, challenge, and trust involved. While this all sounds logical to me, I think I would spend way more time fretting over falling than actually enjoying myself or being social. Although rock climbing will not be my new activity this year, I found another opportunity through a group on Facebook filled with avid and social outdoorsmen(and women!) that host a number of events in the community. This group was offering a free hiking trip. With little hesitation, I filled out an online form and applied for a spot. The application listed the required gear, notably including microspikes (aka crampons) for the shoes in icy conditions, hiking boots, wool gloves and hats, among other specific items. I, predictably, did not own the requisite hiking gear, but said that I did and signed up anyway….

The next day, I received an email informing me that I had been approved for the trip! In that moment, I felt a mix of overwhelming elation tainted by feelings of foolishness. What had I done? Am I basically an imposter trying to fit in with outdoor enthusiasts? I pushed these feelings of doubt aside and then excitedly planned an emergency shopping trip for hiking gear.

Where does one even buy hiking gear? I knew of the outdoor, recreation store REI. I thought about going there, but it was a bit out of my way, so I, like the city-dwelling naïf that I am, went to Macy’s which was both closer and more familiar to me. Dear Reader, I truly am an imposter. Macy’s is the very last place anyone should wander to for hiking gear. I think the reason that I went there was because I knew that they had quite a large shoe department. Embarrassingly, I was not even sure what ‘hiking boots’ looked like. Those ‘duck boots’ that are so popular to wear in the rain (made by LL Bean and Sperry) kind of looked like ‘hiking boots’ in my mind. After a flurry of google searches for “women’s hiking boots,” I finally changed course and headed down to the LL Bean store near Seaport.

Unlike Macy’s, LL Bean’s shoe department is small and there were only 4 types of women’s hiking boots to choose from. One pair was over $200 (and they weren’t even waterproof!), so that left me with 3 options. After my fruitless search at Macy’s, 3 shoe options was a luxury. Luckily, they had my first choice in my size and they were waterproof and super comfortable—instant purchase.

I felt like a total fish out-of-water today and I haven’t even started to hike yet. I admit that I thought hiking would be a leisurely trek through the woods, but based on the gear list and the email correspondence so far, I was sorely (and rather naively) mistaken. But, I can’t back out now. I’m already too invested, and I must say quite excited to do something new that I think I will enjoy. Also, I am continuing to tell myself that I’m not an imposter, I’m just a newbie and that’s okay. This is a funny but good feeling, Dear Reader, I hope you get to experience it too in 2020. Let this be the decade of new things without hesitation 🙂

Love,

Raven

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