There are a few questions lying heavy in my mind lately that I haven’t been able to sort out. I think you could really offer some guidance for me to hopefully be able to answer those questions…or maybe help me consider if I’m even asking myself the RIGHT ones. First, I think it’s necessary that I tell you a little about myself and help you understand where I’m coming from and where I want to go. Because how else would you understand how to help me get there?
I’m 21 years old and in six months will have a bachelor’s in nursing. I have been climbing for about 3 years now. I’m a fast learner, with a strong will and an even stronger head, that’s made me progress pretty quickly. I learned on sport but have developed a love for traditional climbing because it will allow me to go on the adventures that I’ve always dreamed of but never had the opportunity to go on. I want to widen the spectrum of my knowledge of climbing to include mountaineering and to learn all I can about surviving in the mountains. I want to combine this with my passion to help people by learning more about wilderness emergency medicine, and straying away from the frustrations and limitations of conventional medicine and further my knowledge in more holistic practices. It would be the ultimate experience to be able to combine these passions of mine and let it take me to all corners of the world, pursing my desire to bring quality health care to people who desperately need it, all the while surrounding myself with the natural world. For me, the outdoors have always been a place where I feel the most at home and the most at peace. I’ve always felt a connection there that resonates deep within my soul. Now climbing has been an avenue to take me there, meanwhile challenging me physically and mentally in ways I’ve never experienced before. It’s hard to explain really, the gravitational pull I feel within myself to achieve these things.
So here I am…six months away from graduating with a BSN degree from Alabama with little to no money and a pretty unreliable car and the BIGGEST dreams. For the first time ever, there’s technically nothing stopping me from leaving anymore. Everything is finally wrapping up. To many people’s surprise, there are plenty of quality single-pitch climbing opportunities anywhere from 30 min to 2 hours away from me and, of course, multi-pitch just next door in North Carolina…sooo I’m not exactly deprived. There’s also a small, close-knit climbing community here that I love. I’ve had to search long and hard to find the things I’m looking for here, but I’m pretty happy and I’ve definitely made the best of what this tiny section of the world has to offer. However, I want more. My soul is CRAVING the wide-open spaces, the big wall climbing, the desert spires, and the mountaineering excursions you just can’t find in the southeast. That’s not even considering the limited educational opportunities and narrow minded conceptions on health that are prevalent in this area. At the same time I want to travel and experience different people, cultures, climates, and geographic’s. I want to learn as much as I can about myself and this world that we live in.
So my question is…how do I decide what to do when I graduate? How do you know when to go for it and throw all practicality aside? Do I stay a year at the hospital I precept at to gain experience which will open me up to endless opportunities within my career that will then allow me to travel and support myself (and further my career at the same time be able to climb)? OR do I get out west as fast as I can, with the scraps of money I’ve managed to save and finally indulge in my wildest fantasies,live cheaply and simply in my gas guzzling car, letting everything else work itself out over time as I gain footing in the unfamiliar territory? My judgment is so clouded by my desire to pursue my passion for the outdoors that has up until now been restrained by responsibilities at home. I’m having trouble sorting out my thoughts because of the emotion tied into this decision. My already limited patience is wearing thin.
I know the decision is ultimately up to me, but I wanted some advice from someone that’s already been there to help me gain a wider (and wiser) perception of this particular time in my life. I ask you because we seem to share many of the same values, like living simply, veganism and nutrition, climbing, and the sense of adventure that allows you to grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I can only speculate that we seem to share a similar driving force (however difficult to define) behind our reasons for climbing, for seeking adventure. Many of the things I hope to one day achieve, you’ve already been doing for 20 years. I know you can’t tell me what to do but I was hoping you could, at the very least, offer some guidance…or maybe even just share some thoughts or experiences you’ve acquired over the years.
I can’t end this email without saying what an incredible role model you’ve been for me and how much it has helped me to know that there are other women out there that share similar interests and ideals, that live with the ferocity, thoughtfulness, and passion I feel within myself, and pursue a life full of meaning and self discovery. You’re blog has helped me stay focused and successful when life’s certain trials and tribulations threaten to stray me off-track. When I started climbing and stumbled across your blog I couldn’t believe there was another person out there that I could relate to in so many various ways, and it’s been very comforting and inspiring (and makes me feel less crazy for having these huge dreams.) It gets rather lonely sometimes here in the deep south.
Thanks for sharing and thanks for being you,
Ally from Alabama
Congratulations on your impending graduation! I think you are in the ideal career path for having it all. The best thing you can do is make choices that allow you to be fulfilled in all aspects of your life. I know several nurses who work as traveling nurses, and they have an enviable work schedule, get to climb much more than most, and often have a lot of choice as to where they want to be and how long they want to be there. If spending one more year where you are will allow you to combine the career you love and the lifestyle you love, I think it’s a no brainer.
Normally I never tell anyone what to do in situations like this, but this is an easy one
Best of luck with everything,