Walt Whitman said:
You must travel it by yourself.
I don’t think men get slammed with the adventure shaming that women do. But I do know that nearly every woman I have ever spoken with about the outdoors has had someone along the way assure her she’s doomed or else she’s just decided that ‘fact’ for herself.
It’s worse when a woman is younger or is any age but has children she’s planning to leave behind to go adventuring.
I homeschooled and with that came a few instances of other people deciding they knew more than me about my choices. I have discovered the same approach to nay-sayers there can be applied here, with a little different wording.
1. If the person voicing an opinion is not supporting you financially or being asked to look after your children, pets or home while you will be gone, they get zero say. Period. It does not matter how much they love and care and worry for you. They don’t get a vote.
2. If the person voicing an opinion has no experience in what you are undertaking, they get zero say.
3. The person is voicing an opinion that is fear based (you will be attacked, you will get lost, you will be injured) is saying more about themselves and their own fears than what they think may happen to you.
4. If the person voicing an opinion is only saying negative without a single positive suggestion (“take a gun” is not positive) then you need to shut them down. Tell them this topic is no longer open for discussion.
5. If ‘everyone you come into contact with’ says you are crazy, you need to shut up. You’ve picked the wrong support system and nothing you are saying is changing anyone’s mind. Find new support.
6. Educate yourself, every day. Read, write, hike, plan, pick up skills like map reading, first aid, knot tying. Get yourself more fit, learn some recipes, learn some songs, learn to build a fire, use your equipment, set up your tent with your eyes shut. The more confident you feel, the easier it is to brush off negative comments. Instead of wasting time wondering if because so many people are being negative that they might have a point, you will simply know…”I can handle it.”
I’ll add a few more not modified from my homeschool list:
Use common sense. If your gut says something is up, stop and look around.
If there is someone who creeps you out at the trailhead, be proactive. Do something like grab your phone and take a ‘call’ from the ‘friend who is meeting you on the trail’. Say into your phone: “That sounds great! I am taking off now and I will see you in about an hour, can’t wait!”
Have your gear ready to grab and go so you are not standing in the parking area alone, swapping out shoes, adding or removing last-minute things to your pack and so on.
Don’t post online that you are going to hike XX tomorrow or next Tuesday-direct message the people who need to know. Don’t Instagram or post specific updates from the trail. If on a multi-day hike, post a couple of days behind yourself or just wait until you are back home.