I Strive to be First

I have a competitive side and this is undeniable. I absolutely love crossing a finish line and breaking the tape, standing on the highest podium spot, and donning a gold medal whenever possible. First, I like to be first.

Of course, my WanderWoman superpowers sometimes fail me and I end up coming in second or third. Heck, sometimes I don’t even make the podium. Those races always have been enjoyable and fantastic learning experiences. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a racing season where I continuously lost because that would have most likely been draining for me in regards to motivation, drive, and ambition.

Here’s the change up: in early February I decided to deactivate my Facebook account. It was a decision made out of social fatigue and to improve my time management. My inbox was inundated daily with messages regarding hiking, psychology, and inquiries. I was frequently tagged in forums and my notification tally often exceeded 100 by the end of my workday. I was finding that my morning runs were being cut short due to late starts to reply to people and my nights at the office were increasingly later due to clearing out posts. The majority of these alerts were uplifting, kind, inspirational, supportive and fun. It turns out I was overloading on fantastic-ness!

I started to feel anxious and stressed. I was struggling to find a balance between my real life experiences and sharing them on social media; I loved hearing from people with their questions and comments, but also was running out of time in the day to give people the attentive responses they deserved. One night I realized I needed a vacation… a vacation from Facebook.

I don’t want to vilify Facebook or stave people off from messaging or commenting on my posts. I enjoy hearing feedback and also love scrolling through to see what amazing things friends are accomplishing or laugh at silly videos. I have also met other shiba inu owners, several phenomenal hiking partners, and networked with some incredibly talented photographers. Even more noteworthy is that I met Nate through Facebook after seeing him post in the Four Thousand Footer groups and wanting to hike with him. I could never denigrate something that brought me so many magnificent relationships and helped expedite meeting the love of my life (we would have met on the trails one day, I’m convinced).

I do believe that we can become overwhelmed by a lot of anything: even wonderful things. We take vacations from work to recharge our batteries through a change of scenery, schedule, and activity. We even take time apart from friends and family at times; after the holidays I usually need a few days to myself in order to restore my ability to be social (#introvertprobs). In the winter we often travel briefly to somewhere warm for a change, even if we love the snow and cold.

I came across a quote a few months ago that said “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you”. This resonated with me and I made an effort to check social media less often. Great plan, right? Unfortunately, this meant I had more messages and notifications piled up and dedicated 1-2 hours each night clearing them. Crap!

Then there was the option of not replying. While this certainly is a viable option I cannot seem to implement it. I believe that 6 years ago when I began hiking I appreciated the people that knew the trails well could help give me advice. So, why not pay it forward? I also have learned that several people who were essentially strangers that messaged me became meaningful friendships and I don’t want to give up on the chances of making more of those connections.

So, I decided to take a vacation from Facebook. I would give myself anywhere from one night to more than a month to recharge. I would focus on myself more: appreciate my daily runs and fetch with Cole, spend time with friends, enjoy my long workdays with several clients, and catch up on reading. Essentially, I would PUT MYSELF FIRST.

It occurred to me: I strive to be first in so many things in life and also benefit from being first on my list of priorities. Similar to racing, there can be times when I am not first (when someone is ill and needs my help, plans change and require some flexibility, a necessary task impairs my ability to do something extracurricular, etc). However, after several times of not being first I begin to lose motivation and drive. I become frustrated. I need a boost, a win, to be put first.

I hope that everyone is able to be first on their personal podium the majority of the time. We all deserve a vacation and I like to give myself an endless amount of time off from a variety of stressors. Go for the gold!

4 thoughts on “I Strive to be First

  • I can totally sympathize with the Facebook dilemma. I’ve dropped more friends than I care to count, mostly because I’d had it up to here with political bullshit. I figured I better check here to see where you had disappeared to! On the good side of it all, I’m still waiting to see if I made the lottery for the Mt Washington hill climb in June. Hang in there with the busy schedule etc, and I’ll keep checking in here for the latest news!

    • Good luck with the race if you get in! It’s certainly a fun one and you can make car ‘zoom’ noises while running up!

  • Alton this was so wonderfully written. Wile your hiking family missed you we are all so pleased for you.
    This post is exactly what I needed to read. And can completely relate to.
    I found myself struggling with alcoholism and one morning I said ENOUGH! My daughter and I deserve better. I need to put myself first. Not alcohol.
    I’m 26days sober today.
    I feel wonderful.
    So glad to see your inspirational posts again ?

    • Wow, I am so incredibly impressed by your ability to change your life in such a positive and challenging way! 26 years is unbelievable and every day tacks on another notch in your belt. Way to go and glad we can follow one another again!

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