Lessons learned from a solo road trip 🚙

Courtney here from Outwild HQ. Since we're believers in taking risks and getting real, I'm here to share part of my story with you.

Unlike most eighteen-year-olds, when I started college I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to get there. Before starting classes I met with an academic counselor and told him that I was going to medical school. He politely rolled his eyes at me and told me to pick a plan B. With resounding stubbornness and determination, I respectfully ignored his advice and requested a new counselor.

Fast forward seven years and my tenacity got me through the difficult curriculum, three years of hospital work, and four years of volunteering. I was the ultimate overachiever and on track for my dream career. When the time came to apply to medical school, however, I was confronted with the paralyzing reality that I was completely miserable every time I walked into a hospital. My inability to dissociate the pain and stress of others from my own experience made it a toxic environment for me. Stubborn though I was, I knew I had to let go of my carefully planned future.

I was petrified and had no idea how to operate in a world without goals or a defined path. So, I decided to do what any broke and irrational person would do: I hit the road to go find myself. Here's what I discovered:

  1. My childhood fear of strangers is alive and well in adulthood

  2. I can survive a looonnngg time on bread with peanut butter for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

  3. Podcast hosts make great friends and give really good advice

  4. I can go hours without thinking about anything at all

  5. Having no plans at all is amazing!

My point being: it's highly unlikely to find the answers to the universe by hitting the road, but that doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do. Traveling didn't bring me any closer to finding a new career, but it did help me shift my identity from the "Court who is going to be a doctor" to the "Court who is brave, occasionally confronts grizzly bears by herself (without meltdowns), and who confidently walks into the unknown.”

Rather than putting so much stock in identifying as someone who has it all figured out, I now put stock in myself. I can laugh when things don’t go as planned and feel comfortable with the fact that this whole thing is an evolving, lifelong process.

Perhaps you are also interested in leaving behind an old dream, feel scared to start down a new path, or have anxiety at the thought of “figuring it out”... If that’s the case, I hope you’ll come hang out with me at an Outwild event sometime - we’ll be working on navigating all these things and more. And I’d love to hear your story too :)

Thanks for reading,