Finding What Drives us – a bit of wild vulnerability

We’ve taken a bit of a break over the summer leading to lots of space between posts due to travel, work, and reassessing priorities. This “break” has sparked some self-assessment and re-evaluation of my future goals. Please consider the following post as coming to you in a spirit of trying to figure myself the heck out – I’m feeling a little introspective right now, and am using this as an exercise to organize my thoughts.

I’m (Amanda :-)) writing this post in the space of vulnerability, channeling the insights of one of my favorite author / speakers, Brené Brown. I’ve been thinking a great deal about what exactly it is that drives me: what motivates me, gets me out of bed in the morning, brightens my spirit? At our church Women’s group meetings (Church in the Wild, Westerville) we’ve discussed our God-given talents and how to use them – I felt like I was stumped on trying to discover mine.

I’ve taken a multitude of personality tests over the years, mostly as part of a team activity at my places of work: on Meyers-Briggs I’m an “ENFP” – which, according to means that I am “energetic, innovative, friendly,” and “stimulated by new people and experiences;” but also that I tend to “over-worry,” and stress out over being forced to make decisions too quickly or plan long-term. Dan will tell you that is ABSOLUTELY true, as he wants to plan our upcoming Mt. Whitney trek over a year out (in his true ISTJ fashion, ha), whereas I would be happier to show up at the airport and pick a flight to the first wild place I see on the Departures monitor. Those of you who are planners like Dan may have just felt a wave of nausea at that thought, but I hope you realize that I feel the same nausea at the thought of being locked in to plans over a year out when anything can go haywire between now and then.

I took the Gallup Strengths-Finder survey and discovered that I am strong in “Individualization.” Broken down, that means I’m good at reading and understanding people – what motivates them, how they respond to stress, how to best engage them in the workplace. Honestly, this cracks me up because I’m evidently good at reading other people, but can’t figure out my own self. Evidently, this also means that I’m good at adjusting my personality to fit the dynamics of the people around me – in an outgoing group, I tap into my extroversion and help drive the party; in an introverted group I am able to enjoy the calm and go with the flow; when someone needs to talk I can feel that and let them drive the conversation. This also means that I tap into others’ emotions (and drama) very easily, so I have to guard myself to keep from diving down into the deep end with them.

One the Enneagram I am a “Type 8 – The Challenger,” described as self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational (good), yet also can be intimidating and confrontational (bad). I feel this type positively when someone tries to control or “instruct” my core beliefs or my freedom, and negatively when I realize I said something in a way that could be taken offensively – I need to work on my filter!

All of these tests claim to know who I am; they outline, encourage, and set boundaries for self-expectation and behavior. However, none of the authors of these tests really KNOW who I am: they don’t know that my favorite times of day are the moments when the sun is low, either dusk or dawn, when the air is cool and the birds are transitioning; they don’t know that those times are when I feel closest to God and my ancestors, and that is when I choose to focus on connecting to God. The authors don’t know that what gets me out of bed and to the gym in the early morning hours before dawn is the drive to stay fit, to keep moving as well as I can for as long as I can so that I can experience more of the gift of life on this planet.

The authors of these very interesting and engaging tests don’t know that I get satisfaction out of my donkey bumping my elbow for a nuzzle before searching my pocket for a treat; that I like that my horse is just slightly overweight because he’s living his best life doing trails every now and then and enjoying the green grass every day. They don’t know that one of my favorite pastimes is sitting on my front porch with my husband and a glass of fine scotch and watching our dogs play or our chickens peck at stinkbugs in the sunset light. They don’t know that I hiked through 15,000 feet at the Salkantay Pass fueled by absolutely nothing but pure determination after spending the night under the clearest, star-bright and frigid skies, puking into a snow pile from the stomach bug I picked up in the Tambopata. That was five solid days of hiking through the mountains to Machu Picchu without being able to hold down any food, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

They don’t know that my brother and I grew up traveling all over the country with our parents, visiting almost all 50 states before high school and a lot of amazing historical sites, or that we all both loved and resented that life experience in different ways. That I love travel and excitement as much or more than I love stability and Home – luckily I found a partner in life who feels much the same way.

I’m breaking all of this down as part of my efforts to better understand myself and my future – I’ve discovered that I am a “Jack of All Trades,” good at and interested in a lot of different experiences and knowledge. On the flip side, I get overwhelmed by too many to-dos, too many prescribed activities directed by someone else. I love animals and wildness, open skies and fresh air, feeling close to God in nature; I detest sitting in an office building, or navigating big crowds of people, and struggle with negative self-talk and anxiety. I love stories, both mine and those of other people – I want to spend my life collecting stories and knowledge to share with others, to inspire people to get out and experience every bit of life that there is out there to live – and there it is, the want in all this breakdown. It took me until this sentence to outline that want, and now I get to to refine it further.

My father passed away last June (2020), after a sudden and traumatic attack of cancer that seemingly came out of nowhere and took him too quickly. He was always a storyteller – a writer, an exaggerator, a weaver of tall tales and true life lessons. I miss hearing his stories (sometimes for the hundredth time) and bouncing my ideas off of him. As I dive deeper into exploring where life – and the journey we are on with Adventurestalk – will take us I think about how Dad would tell the story, how he would write the tale. I hope that those out there who knew him and might be listening can hear a little of his voice through our blog and podcast. I hope he would approve, and that, in those moments at dawn and dusk when I feel closest to both Dad and God, he can see the path I’m on and smile.

We want to hear YOUR stories, and, if you are comfortable, share them with the world! Please reach out if you have a funny, unique, or engaging story of travel, wilderness, or history tale that you would like to share. We can’t offer much right now other than a good listening ear and inquisitive mind, but if you would like to share your story on the AdventureStalk platform we’d love to be your guides!


Subject Line: Stories to Share: Your Name

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