A young girl ambitious and naive knew about the state of the environment but did not understand what she could do about it. As part of a Human Ecology Capstone project, she was asked to study how humans connect with the natural world. She realized that in order to see how the whole human race interacts with nature, she first needed to understand how she connected with the woods. Her project ended up being a reflective journey to find herself, how she fits into the community around her, and how she saw herself in the natural world by writing everything in a journal. She challenged the way that her extroverted personality clashed with her desire to look inward to solve all the questions she had about her life. She had a burning need to discover all the secrets that trees and birds had to offer in order to grow into a strong, independent, and passionate individual. With a plan to forage for plants she previously researched and write about herself while living in a sustainable cabin in the woods, she was eager to start the trek through her mind. Though her sights were set high and her ambitions were strong, she still was not prepared for the struggles that were to lie ahead. A day and a half into her solitude she was overcome by anxiety and illness from some knotted wrack.
That anxious and naive girl was me half way into a journey of a lifetime. Ever since I was young I hated the fact that I was always dependent on others, but something about not having anyone was so painful that my envisioned trip could not become reality. That partnered with the fact that humans are so dependent on themselves hindered me because I had never been so secluded before. My anxiety attack and illness fought against my life altering reflection and forced me back to campus. I felt like a failure. The trip I had looked forward to for months and spent weeks of my life diligently planning had just crumbled to nothing but a few pages in a journal and an incomplete thought process of who I was. However, I realized the purpose of me being on this earth was to search for answers and act on what I believed to help educate others. With an incomplete process of questioning my whole being, I was in a metamorphosis of finding myself. After getting over my stress and nausea, I slept at home and planned on what I needed to do to change my failure into a success. I felt completely broken and thought that I should stop. I believed that there was no possible way this project could have succeeded like I originally intended it to.
After a difficult night of feeling like a failure and wallowing in self-disappointment, I decided I still wanted to be out in the woods by myself for an extended period of time. However, I did not want to be in total solitude for multiple days. I had a feeling that going out completely alone again would be counterproductive and if I wanted some good to come out of this, I needed to be realistic. I decided that for the last two days, I would go out into the woods right after breakfast for ten hours a day to complete my mental journey of finding out who I really am and how I am going to impact the world. This ended up being more beneficial because after a long day of learning about myself I could be who I wrote that I would be.
Going back out was difficult, but I was inspired and determined to be in the natural world that I had lost connection from. Over those two days, along with the thinking and learning I started before my initial failure, I had an “Ah Ha!” moment where I realized that my purpose on this earth is based on three simple words: learn, act, teach. Those three simple words have become my motto for the rest of my life. The simple and blindly optimistic girl who started on this pilgrimage through her mind, failed,and adjusted. She ended up coming out with a more adjusted and focused view of herself, her voice, and the world. I am not a different person, but instead someone who has grown into an independent, strong, and conscientious individual. I have become wise. I have become focused on creating a better world through failing and challenging myself to continue on.