About a month ago, Josh and I got to spend a few days in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. While we were there, we got matching stickers that say: GO OUTSIDE AND DO THINGS. The irony is that we put them on our laptops. But they serve as a two-fold reminder to us.
First of all, we have said for years that we are outdoorsy people.
We met at a camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains where we went hiking and boating and creek-tubing every week so OF COURSE we like doing outdoorsy stuff!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago as we huffed and puffed our way up a mountain hike, and we realized it was time to be honest with ourselves: we weren’t as outdoorsy as we projected that we were. We didn’t make time for forest treks or hammocking. We were trying to act a certain way that just wasn’t reflected in our actual life.
Granted, we had great intentions! We had shirts that said, “Hike More, Worry Less.” We had cool outdoorsy backpacks. We still had our KEENS and Merrells, from working at camp, for whenever we would start hiking. And anyone who talked to us knew that we were camp people. #camplife #camphairdon’tcare #hikeditlikedit . . . you get the drift.
But we never actually made time to hike. We just said that we liked it, and kept MEANING to actually hike.
I think that often we as humankind like to project that we are a certain way. Instagram bios get updated so people know we are into yoga, iced coffee, photography, or whatever. Clothing is purchased and worn to imply we do things that we say we do. We even use every opportunity to mention to people, “Oh yeah, that’s my thing. I’m into crafting/rock-climbing/artisan bread now.” But how often do we actually live like we are those things we say we are? How many times did I tell people I love hiking, being in the mountains, or kayaking–knowing full well the most outdoorsy thing I had done in a year was push a stroller around a neighborhood?
The fact of the matter is that we can all give ourselves labels and wear the clothes and buy all the accessories; but until we actually GO DO THE THING, we are still just pretending to be something we are not. We all did it as kids, and many of us continue to do it today. I did, and probably still do for some things!
However, Josh and I are changing this for ourselves personally. We aren’t just going to tell people that we love camp or wear Chacos everywhere. We are actually going to do the things we say we love. Because guess what?
We realized that we actually do love those things when we actually go do them.
We do! We had a blast hiking in the pouring rain in Gatlinburg! We loved trying to hike at Gunpowder the other week and realizing we took a wrong turn but hammocked for an hour anyway. We also set limits for ourselves: no buying more hiking gear until we are actually hiking consistently. As much as I want to get cool Eddie Bauer hiking pants and tough-looking KEENS hiking boots and a tent and tin dishes and all the other camping accessories and a kayak–I’m not going to buy any of those things until I know that this is going to become a real hobby (and only if I need any of those things at all anyway).
Sometimes, we try the thing we say we love and realize it’s not for us. And that’s okay! But we have to be man (or woman) enough to recognize that and move on. Don’t keep the embroidery hoop, the miniature herb garden kit, the balls of yarn, the heavy boots, the tennis racket if you know you’ll never get to it. Sometimes you have to let those dreams of your ideal self go so you can live your best life: the life that’s right in front of you!
The second reminder from the sticker on the back of our laptops is this:
Close the laptop, turn off the mobile device, and go do disconnected things.
Honestly, sometimes those things are less productive than what I was doing. Most of the time, though, I go do things that put me in a better mood, make me more productive for the day, and allow me to enjoy the day and the people I’m with more. My schedule, my sanity, my relationships, and my priorities all benefit when I get away from the screens.
I know it’s tough. I’m writing this blog on my laptop, will share it to Facebook on my laptop, and will track its progress on my laptop. I keep in touch with the people in my life via text or Messenger or email. It’s hard to survive in this world with zero time spent on a device. But what if we just used them less, so we could make more time for what’s important?
Go outside and do things.
Don’t do it for the pictures or to show off your new outfit. Don’t create things just so others will compliment you. Just do you. There is so much to learn, experience, and develop as a human that you don’t have to share with your followers, great-aunt, or that one friend from middle school who sends you a friend request every time you unfriend them.
Disconnecting and getting outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, is so good for you. It refreshes your perspective on life, as well as gives you an opportunity to step back to examine your priorities and how you spend your time. Hit refresh on your chaotic life by stepping outside for a bit without the device.
Go do the things you say you want to do but don’t make time for. It’s worth it.