Nature, Fear, and Close Friends

A much more serene part of the trail that made the whole trip worth it. 

I’m a junkie for the great outdoors.  Whenever I can, I hike, climb or simply travel short distances for the sake of being outside.  Destination trips are always adventures, but sometimes “stay-cations” can be just as fun.  Living in Athens Georgia is convenient for this reason – mountains, waterfalls and gorges are about an hour north west.  Spur of the moment hiking trips are therefore a regular occurrence.  I often share my experiences on social media to share the beauty of the day with everyone on my friends list… people I speak with daily as well as people I’ve spoken to only a few times.  My philosophy is that if I can share an awe-inspiring moment that can be universally appreciated by the masses, I may have brightened someone’s day somewhere.  I also share for less “pure” reasons… when someone looks at my profile, they’ll see pictures the great outdoors as well pictures of other activities I enjoy, and all of these pictures have something in common… They scream “Look at how cool my life is!”   I’ll be the first to admit that when I post on both Instagram and Facebook, it’s for “likes” and comments as much as it is for sharing my life experiences.  I find no shame in that.

There are inspiring moments, however, that are personal revelations… private in nature that I’d rather not broadcast to the world.  Being an enthusiastic explorer, for example, does not make me immune to fear, especially the fears that I’m most embarrassed by.

I recently went hiking through the Tallulah Gorge floor in Georgia.  The gorge is a beautiful rift in the earth with rocky streams and waterfalls every few hundred feet. When you stand on the floor of the gorge and look up, you are reminded of how great and massive the planet is, and that you’re only a small component of a much larger – more epic – existence… an addictive feeling. I love everything about the gorge – the sound of rushing water, the wildlife, the serenity you find when you’re there alone.  Well, I love almost everything about the gorge…  There are parts of the gorge floor trails that require you to cross the river through rushing water and rocks.  I’m very much irrationally afraid of the idea of losing my footing while navigating across slippery rocks and rushing water – it’s not aqua-phobia (I love being in and near water) but I my legs shake, heart-races and I’m always close to tears when I’m in rushing water without any idea how deep the next step will be. It’s a physical reaction – an anxiety that I struggle to control.  Only those closest to me (well… and now you) know this about me. For someone who takes pride in seeming “adventurous” on social media, being stalled by a few rocks in a river is pretty embarrassing.

I went to the trails to overcome this fear and I learned two things:

1.  Never face your fears alone.  I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to make the journey alone.  Perhaps I thought that overcoming this anxiety was a personal experience that only I could take charge of. Maybe I let pride get the best of me.  Regardless of the reason… it was a stupid decision.  Have you ever seen a small cat stranded on a rooftop or in a tree?  That was me… but on a rock.  Pathetic.

2.  There’s another place I can share these personal experiences without fear of judgment. Postly. I travel a lot.  I network.  I have a lot of facebook “friend” that aren’t close friends. Long-story short, I shared my fear along with photos on Postly instead of other networks because…. let’s face it, it’s a pretty ridiculous fear… and I wanted moral support from people that I knew cared.  I can imagine the comments on facebook from people I “friended” years ago that would have access to a very personal moment had I shared it… perhaps they would be supportive and perhaps not.  Perhaps they would say something disrespectful and perhaps not. On a giant social network where it’s appropriate to use the term “audience” to describe one’s list of friends, the anxiety of sharing something personal is overwhelming. There’s a need for another space – a safer space where my friends list is actually a list of real friends.  Only the people I knew cared and I knew would be supportive saw my Postly post.  For that reason, I didn’t feel like I was facing my fear alone.  All of the sudden I was with my buddies as they coached me across the river.  Without Postly, I may have been stuck there for hours.

I snapped photos, picked my friends and shared my struggle.  It was just us in a shared moment and Postly let me keep it that way.

-Adriana Thomas

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