Hike New Experiences with Confidence

Jillian DuBoisBlog, Reflect Better, Self Care Better


  • New experiences shape who we are and who we become.
  • Struggles push you to grow.
  • Treasure the memories and life adventures.

New Experiences

A long hike in the woods, following paths of yellow blazes on tall evergreens, and passing through nature in rural spaces provide everything I need to restore my weary soul. 

There is something to be said about entering the canopy, that shelter of protection, where you can lift your eyes to see glimpses of sunlight stream down and guide the way. The cleansing breaths in the fresh air bring a sense of awe and wonder. There is no wrestling in trying to decide which way to go. The trail is capable of silently leading with no mention of a specific direction.

Remember, every experience shapes who we are and who we become. Each movement forward takes you to a new height, even with the slips and trips that modify your stride. Click To Tweet

Just follow and stay the course ahead. It will lead you.

My husband Tim and I are avid hikers. Wherever our travels take us, we hunt for the nearest space to trek. Often our walks are quiet, gratefully spent in the solitude of being together without needing words. It is our chance to explore the beauty and grandeur in our unique ways. 

Tim is quick on his feet, swiftly moving at a pace that allows him to advance without delay. He hustles up an elevation at breakneck speed. And then there is my pace. I learned many years ago that it was not in my wheelhouse to keep up with him, nor was I expected to. My tempo is more methodical and deliberate as I engineer where each step ushers me. 

We have very different individual styles in which to walk and climb. While Tim is always eagerly looking ahead, figuring out every twist and turn along any given trail, I bring up the rear in a slower progression by keenly watching each step I take. I am careful to avoid slippery mosses, rocks, and tree roots that endanger my stride. 

On a recent excursion in the hills of Georgia, we took our dog, Piper Lou, with us on a nearby day hike. We had hiked this particular trail several years prior and were familiar with the terrain and layout. It was dry, cool, and sunny—perfect conditions to scale the elevation of the trail.

We set off, full of energy and excitement as always, taking in all of the sounds and smells of the wooded area.

This time it felt different and almost emotionally cleansing. We made frequent stops and deviated off the main trail to take in the glorious views of the fall leaves and rushing rapids of the creek. As we continued to journey on foot with Piper Lou in tow, we found an offshoot from the original path that we had not experienced before. Soon our brave trio went off-course and knew this would be a moderate to difficult climb (at least that was what the sign told us!). 

As we deviated from the normal path, it became challenging. Steep crags and abrupt boulders proved to be arduous and tough. My feet slipped. There were a few minor trip-ups, but the motivation was empowering to continue. Tim and Piper Lou were far ahead, but I did not let that deter me. Slowly I made my way up the vertical route, one cautious step at a time. I took several breaks to catch my breath and rest my feet. My determination kicked in, and I persevered as I reached the ridge where they were patiently waiting. We celebrated and sat for what seemed like an eternity in silence, soaking in the sunshine from the view at the top.

Sometimes it takes the simplest of things to remind us of our humanity. This day had become enlightenment for me as I had recently been feeling “stuck” in my thoughts about my professional identity after leaving my role of 20+ years as a classroom teacher last year. I had become afraid that I would not fit in with my community of educators any longer and had seriously begun to doubt whether or not I still belonged.

Sifting through the tranquility of those moments on the trail, there was one key conviction that awakened my consciousness.

[scroll down to keep reading]

Just because I am no longer in the classroom, it doesn’t mean that I cannot still positively impact education. 

For whatever reason, there’s a stigma around educators who decide to leave the profession. We’re suddenly seen as insensitive, weak, or burnt out. We become a statistic and carry shame and guilt if disregarded. I believe with all my heart that I made the right choice to deliberately step in a new direction, just as I had on the trail that day. I recognize the value of the years I spent in the classroom environment and will always treasure those memories and life adventures with joy. 

Remember, every experience shapes who we are and who we become. Each movement forward takes you to a new height, even with the slips and trips that modify your stride.

If I never had taught, I wouldn’t have grown into the capable, creative, and inventive person I am today.

If I never had experienced the struggles, it wouldn’t have pushed me to grow and support education in a new light. My insecurities slowly gave way to an evolved confidence and fearlessness.

If I never had taken that next intentional step on the steep path on that difficult, intense trail, I wouldn’t have had the celebration when I reached the goal at the top. It’s certainly worth the effort. After our hike that day, I came away with a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity as to the next step I would take in life. And I certainly will be looking out for whatever lesson it will teach me.

About Jillian DuBois

Jillian DuBois currently serves as an elementary school educator in Clearwater, FL. She has worked both in public and private educational settings for over 20 years. Her passion is to initiate, instill, and infuse joy to those in educational leadership through blogs and podcasts. Jillian uses her voice to help foster hope for student equity and empathy. Outside of school, you will find Jillian outdoors, soaking up the sun and surf, or finding new paths to hike with her husband and son. You can visit her website here!