Let’s Talk about Jobs, Life, and Backpacking


(I didn’t take this, the credit belongs to the husband, who is very talented. There are many perks to being married to a professional photographer. Joshua Tree National Park, March 2015)

Okay, bear with me on this one. I said I was going to write my next post about my continuing sleeping issues. While I’m still going to do that for my next, NEXT post (I’ve figured some things out, maybe), I’ve been thinking a lot about doing a post in regards to some of my backpacking goals. Goals you say? Like, what trails you want to hike? Sort of. I’ve certainly been making my short (actually, long) list of trails I’d like to tackle. They are going to be awesome. More broadly though, I’ve been spending some serious think time pondering how that hiking fits into the greater scheme that is my current life.

To frame this, let’s talk about life. Non-hiking life. We all have those lives, the ones that happen off the trail, that requires you get up, go to work, get health insurance, be a functioning adult, etc. I’ve been thinking about the relationship that my daily life (specifically, work life) has to my backpacking life, and it’s sometimes a tense one. I’ve also spent a lot of time recently reflecting on what kind of backpacker I want to be. While you may be reading this thinking, “just go backpacking for a weekend, it’s not that complicated”, for me it’s slightly more complicated. So, let’s have a conversation about these two topics: work and how I envision myself moving forward in the world of semi-long distance backpacking.

To start, let’s quickly go over a little about me and my job (though obviously you’ve read this in the about me section of my blog, right??):

-I work full time at an amazingly prestigious museum. That’s pretty cool. It’s a nice place to work.
-I’m an archivist, and while I often get the “oh my god, I bet you have the best job in the world!” reaction, it can also be a lot of tedious work on a day to day basis. Sure, sometimes I get to work with super old materials from the 1800-1900s, but a lot of what I work with is newer (think: 1995), and like any type of record, it’s not always fascinating.
-A lot of being an archivist is office work. It’s working on spreadsheets, it’s cataloging folders into a content management system, which we can then use to aid researchers or scholars to answer questions. While this is absolutely a vital service that we provide to our society, it also involves a lot of full time desk sitting and indoor time on my part. I certainly don’t take this duty lightly: we provide the materials that people use to make our world better.
-I’ve always struggled a lot with full time jobs. I know that working a full time, 40 hour work week is sometimes part of life. But, I’ve always hated it. Oftentimes, I wander out of my office, look out at the mountains, and think “I wish I was climbing one of those”. By the end of working at my desk for 9 hours, I sometimes feel a little nuts, muttering to myself “what am I doing with my life”.

I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in my life assuming that I’d settle into the 40 hour “sit at your desk” work week, once I found the right career. I just needed the right job, the right masters degree, and something would CLICK. I just had to figure out what “my thing” would be. Well, I’ve spent a lot of time and have obtained a lot of degrees in my pursuit to figure this out. However, I’m starting to think that maybe my personality just isn’t suited for a full-time office job. I actually think a lot of people aren’t suited for this, and you know what? That might just be okay. Why have I always assumed that this was the only route in life? I’ve always felt that if I couldn’t somehow fit into this model, that I was failing to be a full fledged adult, one that is self-sufficient and successful.

I don’t regret the time I’ve spent exploring careers, jobs, and the fact that I have a masters degree. This is all super great. I’ll always have that masters degree, and I fully intend to apply it in a way that feels right for ME. However, I’m starting to also realize that maybe I’m just a loose cannon, a wanderer, who’d rather have the ability to pick up on a Wednesday to climb a mountain, and then come home and work on my own schedule. What I’m getting at, is that instead of trying to fit yourself into what you think we need to be, sometimes maybe you have to embrace what you know to be true of yourself, and try and mold a life that works for YOU (and not someone else). Maybe I’m spontaneous and I don’t like to sit at a desk, but, that could be something I can work with. I’m still working this all out in my head, but I like where it’s going.

(Also, on the plus side, my position at big museum is up in May, and it might be the perfect time to make a change).

Okay, we’re done with some of the deep, questionably ridiculous big life topics, for now.

Still with me? Next topic is sort of related: I’ve been heading towards the topic of thru-hiking for awhile, both in my writing and in my general life. I have always loved the idea of thru-hiking, ever since learning about the PCT in 2007 or 2008. If, in some magical world, I decide I’m not going to be chained to a desk all day, does that mean I’m going to pick up and go hike for 6 months straight? I don’t think so. For a lot of reasons, I don’t really want to do that. Why not?

-I’ve never done anything longer than 5 days (gasp, I know, it’s crazy), but I think knowing myself, I’d be pretty darn happy with a trip lasting up to a month or so. I don’t have a deep urge to spend 1/2 of the year hiking a super long trail in one go.
-I really really love spending time with my husband and my family. I’d really miss them, so I don’t want to be gone for huge stretches of time (note: I’m sure that everyone who thru-hikes the PCT has someone they dearly miss. I don’t doubt that.)

So, after much thought and consideration, I have determined: I’m a long section hiker! (Or, a hiker of trails taking around 1 month or less to finish*). Sometime, I’ll post the short-list I’ve been making of hikes I’d love to do. They are long section hikes of big trails and shorter thru-hikes (think the John Muir Trail, if the permit situation improves in the next few years). I know it’s silly, but it feels great to say this. I’m a section hiker, and it’s exciting. I want to hike lots, see lots of places and do a lot of writing about those experiences.

This post has already gone on way too long, and my lunch break is almost over. Until next time!

*I’m sure there are lots of definitions “section hiker” but this is how I apply it.



2 Comments on “Let’s Talk about Jobs, Life, and Backpacking

  1. Pingback: What Kind of Writer Am I? – Outdoorsy Archivist

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