I Dropped Everything and Went to Wyoming for a Month, and It Changed My Life

A fun fact about me: I don’t like things that are out of the ordinary.

I’m not the best at functioning without routine, and it’s something I’ve always struggled with. My comfort zone has always been embarrassingly small, because the thought of trying new things is absolutely terrifying to me.

Even applying for Camp Davis — the month-long geology class located deep in the mountains of Wyoming — was a challenge. (Some background: I’m a creative writing and psychology student. I’d never, not once in my whole life, taken a class even kind of similar to geology. I’d never been to Wyoming. I didn’t know a single other person going on the trip.)

But I was devastated after not getting accepted to the study abroad program that I thought I had a decent shot of getting into. I had half my summer blocked off for it, had already declined job offers, and the thought of sitting around doing nothing for months was almost more terrifying than going out of the country for six weeks — and that was before I broke up with my boyfriend of almost two years.

I felt like my life was falling apart, to say the least. The first half of the summer was spent alone, working so much I didn’t have a second of free time, and realizing how unhappy I was with myself. I knew I was starting my senior year in the fall — it could potentially be my last summer before starting a real job, and there I was, sitting behind a desk at a job I hated half the time and wondering if I should get back together with my ex. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. All I knew was that I didn’t like the person I’d become.

So, I committed to Camp Davis.

It was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. A month away from my friends and family, living with complete strangers, not making any money, and spending hours a day learning about a subject I didn’t even care about was about as far out of my comfort zone as it gets. 

But I knew I had to make some changes, and fast. My mission for the second half of the summer was to become a person I liked. And, as I was quickly coming to realize, sitting at home and passing up what could be the experience of a lifetime wasn’t the ideal image for my new and improved self.

Waking up on our departure day and loading into a van with three complete strangers should’ve been the worst day of my life. I couldn’t sleep the night before — what if I didn’t get along with someone in my cabin? What if I failed the class? What if the hikes ended up being a lot harder than I anticipated, and I held back the group every time?

To put it simply, Camp Davis was, quite possibly, the best experience of my whole life.

If you ever need to get over an ex, I recommend dropping everything and spending a month without cell service. Completely immerse yourself in learning about rocks, so you don’t have time to think about him. Go on ten-mile long hikes with some of the best views you’ve ever seen, and some of the greatest people you’ve ever met. Let yourself do scary things (like jumping off a thirty-foot cliff and white-water rafting with a high chance of thunderstorms in the forecast) and figure out the person you want to be.

It was simultaneously the fastest and slowest month of my entire life. Days blurred together, entire weeks passed without a single bad thought, and before I knew it, I was stepping out of the van back home. 

I genuinely believe I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t taken that month for myself. I had two choices: stay home for the summer, make a bunch of money, and probably get back together with my ex I wasn’t even happy with; or go face a ton of my very biggest fears, go broke, and force myself to move on. I truly didn’t realize how much getting over that fear would shape me into a version of myself I actually liked.

Fast forward two months: I’m still broke and still single, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy in my life. I owe a lot of it to Camp Davis, but I also owe a lot of it to myself. In hard times — times when we feel like we don’t even know who we are anymore — it’s so easy to let our thoughts take over. It’s so easy to feel helpless, to accept defeat.

But I’ve come to learn that we grow the most during the hardest parts of our lives. It’s a critical period: we have the option to reinvent ourselves, to readjust. Especially if you hate change as much as I do, it can be the scariest thing in the world. But it also can be the best.

Today, I’ve never been happier with the person I am on the inside. Just four months ago, I woke up every day and my first thought was how much I disliked myself. Two months ago, I was in the middle of nowhere, facing my biggest fears, and I found myself feeling happier and happier with myself every single morning.

Change really can be a beautiful thing, as long as we’re willing to push ourselves to make the best of it.  


Image courtesy of michigandaily.com