Several friends had recommended Cheryl Strayed’s Wild to me, despite my idea of a good outdoor adventure being a patio at my favorite winery. But I like a well-told story and Strayed delivers just that. The story is about her solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail of the West Coast. She decides to make the trip after the death of her mother, the end of her marriage and a general feeling of being lost in her own life. It’s a great book if you’re into the outdoors or if you’re into a good human interest story. The latter is the one that captured my attention.
At the time of her hike, Strayer wasn’t aware of any other women hiking the train alone. She came across some solo men hikers, but the women were always part of a pair of group. Strayer had enough to fear from the wilderness that didn’t have anything to do with her gender, but she also has some unique concerns as a solo woman hiker. That said, fairly early on in her hike, she made a conscious choice about how she would handle her fear.
Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. – Cheryl Strayed
I love this quote for many reasons. First, she ties her emotions to the story she tells herself, which is something that resonates with me – facts and observations don’t upset or scare us. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about these facts and observations that lead us to feel something about them. And secondly, that means Strayed decided for herself to buck what she’s been told as a woman and decide she would and could write the story of her choosing.
Sure, fear can keep us safe in a lot of situations. But fear can also hold us back if we let it be the sole author of our story. What’s writing your story?