I love the outdoors. I love everything about the feel of dirt on my feet and face, and the look of trees that tower over me. I love small streams and big, rushing rivers. I like to feel insignificant next to mountains and powerful when I’m on them. I think about climbing in far-off places, and hiking through deep forests where I might get lost. I like getting down low to the breathing earth and whispering with the tiny creatures that dwell there.

However, as I write this, I’m afraid that I have admissions to make. I don’t take enough action to care for the environment that I claim to love. For as long as I’ve been the “nature girl,” I’ve committed myself to occasionally picking up trash I see on my hikes, only to forget the pile I left halfway from the trailhead, meaning to collect it on my way make down. I don’t always recycle, and I definitely don’t go to protests as often as I should. I’ve used “I” at the beginning of every one of these sentences because, largely, it is me that my world revolves around when I should be the one revolving. I don’t know what to do. How do I think globally as a mid-level branch manager, working 40 hours a week, seeing a therapist on the weekends, and climbing until my anxiety goes away? How do I take care of my local environment when I can barely take care of myself?

The truth is that my emotions far exceed my actions. My passion for the environment is much larger than the effort I put in to care for it. I am a fraud, but I want to be better.

I write this admission in hopes that others will identify with it and feel the low-burning fire in their hearts, similar to my own, and will strive to do better where I have done wrong. Maybe I am wrong in assuming that others will connect with my essay, but maybe by speaking this truth I’m giving myself a better place to start. Forgive me.

Learn more about the Ten Sleep Climbing Festival.