How to Keep Up Outdoors “You all go ahead.” Silently, you add: “Because I probably can’t keep up.” You say these words to a friendly mix of personal friends and a few friends of friends. Your reason for declining this seemingly casual outing? Not wanting to be the one that holds the group back. And that’s natural: Humans need to belong and to some extent, that means being able to hold your own with the rest of the group. Or at least, we think that.
Progression (or: We All Were Newbs)
Take a step back from yourself and evaluate the situation: Where do you think each person in that crew started in their outdoor journey? Ground zero, right? Everyone was new to this at some point. Next up: Do you think they all leaped from ground zero straight to their current ability? Nope. It might have been a faster journey for some vs. others, but for everyone out there, it’s a progression. Ease up on yourself. Yes, you need to be mindful of your abilities in reference to the terrain and technical know-how needed by the adventure. But so what if you’re a little slower; so what if you aren’t a master in all things
Change Your Perspective
If you have the right crew, they don’t care if you’re slow. Let’s have you swap places with someone in that group that’s going out. You’re now that person listening to yourself tell them to go ahead. Let’s say you also knew the real reason you’re not coming along — that you’re afraid you can’t keep up. As a person in the group, would you now insist, saying speed or ability didn’t matter? Yes? Well, if you feel that way, then the people in that group probably do, too. When you pass up a chance to get outside with others who might have more experience than you, you’re just holding yourself back. Chances are, they don’t mind having someone along that’s a little newer to the sport than them as long as a willing attitude and can-do spirit is present. But what if you actually know that the group you hang with just isn’t all that accepting?
Get Some Positive People
It happens. I’ve noticed it in different scenarios; sometimes it’s because I’m a girl and in certain regions, the stereotype of girls not being as strong still exists. Sometimes it’s because there’s just a few ego-driven eggs out there that — while great in person (maybe) — just have something to prove to themselves and others. Ain’t no one got time for attitudes, egos, and unfriendliness. My advice in this situation is to go ahead and pass on the invites because you need a positive-focused crew to keep you motivated. Easier said than done? Let’s get you connected.
Outdoor Women’s Alliance
If you’re a female and live near one of these seven regional areas, Outdoor Women’s Alliance (OWA) has teams with over 8,000 people for you get outside with. Using hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and more, these teams focus on positivity, leadership, and skill-building in a supportive community for outdoor women — no matter your pace or skill level.
If that’s a fit for you but you don’t see a team in your region, you can help get one going. OWA, a nonprofit organization, is building a platform — at the request of women worldwide — that will open the program to women everywhere. If you are one of the women who can benefit from this (or know how important it is for women to access the leadership and confidence that comes from adventure), check out OWA's crowdfunder and get a team going in your region: www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/outdoor-women-in-your-community
Teton Sports’ own #HikerChat social media community is another way to create a new adventure posse. Search for the hashtag on both Instagram and Twitter to find people to connect with; on the latter, join in the weekly live chat on Fridays.