How to Become Outdoorsy – For People Who Aren’t

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I think it’s safe to say that I’ve always enjoyed the idea of being outdoorsy quite a bit more than I actually enjoy being outdoors. I want the satisfaction of climbing the mountain without having to swat away at the mosquitos; I want the scrumptious picnic under the sky without having to lug all that food through an overgrown field – you get the picture. Sure, mosquitos and dirt probably won’t be going away anytime soon, so here I am making the conscious choice to embrace them. I encourage you to join me.

Being outdoorsy doesn’t have to mean going full-on crunchy granola. You don’t have to go vegan or wear a bandana to enjoy nature, and you only really need some sunscreen, a bit of bug spray, and a malleable frame of mind. Start by opening your windows at night and dozing off to a cricket crescendo, and then work your way up to the level of outdoorsy-ness you’re hoping to achieve. Maybe this just means sitting under a tree and not hating it, or maybe it means taking an epic whitewater rafting trip. Either way, the moment is yours to indulge in.

Quite possibly the best thing about nature is its means of encapsulating us in a timeless world. The moon and the waves and giant oak trees are testaments to the fact that life goes on, regardless of unread emails or overlapping meetings. It’s more than just a departure from the lives we find ourselves leading; it’s an entryway to a world that hasn’t yet been explored. It might bring you some clarity, perhaps some big questions, and maybe even some existentialism, but you can count on Vitamin D.

The second best thing about being outdoors is that it doesn’t have to mean exercise (but it can, if you’re into that). It takes quite literally zero effort to swing in a hammock or go cloud watching from your front stoop or backyard. If you want to take it to the next level, go for it. Run up that hill, scramble up that rock face, sign up for that triathlon next month. I’ll be here on ground level eating my trail mix. (My first and foremost rule of being outdoorsy is that it should always happen in the presence of snacks. Always. Unless there will be bears involved, of course.)

So what’s the best way for you to get started? Take this quiz to find your go-to Outdoor Outset – your means of breaking out into the world of nature even if you haven’t left the house in weeks. Then, follow these tips to maximize your outdoorsy experience.

  1. Play the field. The first outdoor activity you try doesn’t have to be the one you commit to. Try out that bike route, do yoga on the lawn, or take the leap and strap on those rollerblades. Don’t feel like you have to just be “a hiker” or “a skier.” You can be someone who enjoys hiking and skiing and even the occasional canoe paddle (not all at once, though, unless you’re super coordinated).
  2. Don’t force it. There’s a difference between endurance and making yourself miserable, and you’ll want to steer clear of the latter.
  3. Resist the urge to capture every moment. It’s no secret that there’s a certain magic to the outdoors. Feel free to snap a picture of that waterfall or record a sound byte of those chirping birds, but try not to let the hope of remembering the moment outweigh the joy of soaking in the present.

Yes, I’ve been guilty of overusing the number of peaks I’ve climbed as my “fun fact.” Maybe there’s no harm in leaning in a little. For now, I’m looking forward to starting my own outdoorsy journey, which I foresee will include a lot of dark chocolate. Who knows, I might even get a bandana.

Cover Photo by Megan Pontin

  • Question of

    What subject was/is your favorite subject in school?

    • Math
    • Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Naptime
  • Question of

    What is your dream vacation destination?

    • Anywhere in the Caribbean
    • Paris, France
    • The Amazon
    • The Great Barrier Reef
    • The Swiss Alps
  • Question of

    How do you like to unwind after a long day?

    • Read a novel
    • Watch a movie
    • Do some yoga
    • Tackle a crossword
    • Take a bath
  • Question of

    What type of music do you like to listen to?

    • Indie
    • Classical
    • Rock
    • Pop
    • Country
  • Question of

    How would your friends and family describe you?

    • Clever
    • Relaxed
    • Ambitious
    • Curious
    • Introspective


Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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