Who Am I, Really?

Backpacker: (n)

someone, especially a young person without much money, who travels around an area on foot or public transportation, often carrying a backpack

Hiker: (n)

A walking traveler, usually over mountainous paths.

What makes me a hiker or backpacker? What is it that allows me to call myself as such? Why is it that when people ask ‘What do you do?’ that I would rather as answer ‘I am a backpacker and a writer,’ instead of, ‘I am a volunteer coordinator.’ Why do I identify with being a backpacker more than my actual job title?

These are questions I seem to be asking myself a lot lately. But really, what does make me a hiker or a backpacker? Plenty of people seek out trails and hiking and don’t identify themselves with those terms. So what makes me one? Or can I even really call myself that? Sure, I hike a lot, more than most people in the area, and I try to backpack as much as possible. But does that really make me a hiker or a backpacker? Can I really call myself an adventurer? Is it that I’m planning a thru-hike? Does that make me more qualified? Having logged so few miles and so few backpacking trips, I often wonder if I’m worthy of the title.

I suppose that I could use the argument that this is what I love, this is what I’m truly passionate about. I know more than the average person about trails in the area. I tend to know more about gear, brands, and where to go to get the best deals. I could also tell you where to go to get reliable information on gear. I could teach you how to build a fire, cook without a stove, and hang a bear bag. I know what to do for most medical emergencies on the trail. I constantly seek out books about trails and life on the trail. I also seek out knowledge about plant and animal life on the area. I like to know what’s poisonous, or safe, and what is and isn’t edible. I also like to know where I’m most likely to find snakes (I hate snakes so I prefer to be aware). I’m a book junkie.

I guess I just wonder if that’s enough for now? Knowledge? And passion? Because as much as I wish I was, I’m certainly no professional.

In the end, what I’m asking is this: How can we define ourselves? What guidelines are there to say that I am what I say I am? 

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6 thoughts on “Who Am I, Really?

  1. Sometimes I think about this too, especially because I’m passionate about so much. I’m a hiker backpacker environmentalist farmer writer musician traveler biker photographer? Or … I’m just me 🙂

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    • I understand that feeling so much! I have so many interests that play a big part of my life. Glad to know that I’m not the only one who wonders this! I guess that’s the beauty of being young, we get to choose who we want to be!

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  2. The things we love, the things we seek out and keep going back to, that is what defines us. I don’t think that being new-ish to the hobbies you love most keep you from falling into that category.

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