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When I look at the pictures from that vacation I don’t see me, not really. Sure, the woman in the photos looks like me and is creating memories I currently possess. But she seems far more joyful and confident than I consider myself to be.

When I ever be done talking about my Scotland trip?

I dunno.

Best guess? After the next trip. You’re welcome.

Vacation Brooke didn’t give much thought to her weight or BMI, except to get a giggle out of it. More specifically, laughing at Jay’s {truthful} declaration that we had the best body fat to speed ratio (translation for those who don’t speak nerd: we were thicker than most of our fellow hikers, but also faster than them).

Only slightly slower than Barry Allen while on the West Highland Way, and a bit more stout.

In the vacation pictures, I see a woman who enjoys adventures. She loves spending time with her darling and having conversations with strangers. She doesn’t shy away from a bit of hard work resulting in a big payoff. Hike 100 miles? Sure, as long as the scenery is epic. She’s tired, but she doesn’t let that slow her down.

Our first view of Loch Ness, is that Nessie in the background?

Before leaving for the trip, I remarked that we might be the only people in the history of vacations to walk 100 miles in a week and come back fatter. While I don’t think that’s literally true (on either end of the hypothesis), I certainly didn’t come back any lighter.

Full Scottish Breakfast

We had no trouble replenishing any calories burnt, thanks to local beer and cuisine. (Yes, I tried haggis. Yes, I really enjoyed it.) I didn’t bother tracking weight or calories because I had more important things to consider. And I never once shied away from getting a photo in the foreground of an incredible landscape.

I’m not sure where the disconnect between my adventurous self and my real-world self occurred, but I don’t like it. I want that confident adventurer back. She’s not wrong, feeling like she’s good enough, qualified for the task, worthy.

At the top of the Devil’s Staircase, which started near the water in this photo. Day 6 of 7.

Please don’t for a minute to believe the lies that contentment is easy during the vacation of a lifetime. Or that joy should be found around every corner. Should I be at peace when I make a wrong turn on the West Highland Way and find myself lost in the woods?

Also, anyone who’s struggled with anxiety understands it doesn’t stay in a box on the shelf at home while the anxious travel. Rather, it packs its carry-on bag and comes along for the trip, excited to find new potential problems in the new location. And believe me, I had carry-on baggage.

Train ride from Fort William – we’re tired but we’ve done it!

What’s the reason, then, for this content version of me?

She is the new me I’ve cultivated over the past 15 years or so. She continues to do the hard work of fighting anxiety and depression.

She got creative with dating strategies – resorting to the internet back before that was a thing people did and openly talked about. She kissed a few frogs before finding her Prince Charming, someone who makes her feel at home. Someone who makes her want to find adventure.

She’s trained for and completed marathons. Read countless books. Covered hundreds of miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Vacation Brooke knows who she is, who she wants to be, and has set out to make her dreams reality.

Maybe my everyday life has remained so consistent over the past 15 to 20 years, I fail to recognize the changes. Perhaps only epic adventures push back the curtain to reveal who I’ve become.

I’ve grown so much since then, sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I’ve found my person, my people, and realized who loved me even back then are pretty phenomenal too.

When I start to doubt myself, perhaps I will take a good look at the girl in the picture and consider what she has achieved and endured to get here there. Then remembering what I have planned for the future, consider how the self-criticism or doubt fits. My guess the answer will be “about as well as the size 4 skinny jeans from 2005.”

I’m thinking its time to pack them up and say my goodbyes.

This week on her 10 Things to Tell You Podcast, Laura Tremaine revisits old photos of herself at various life iterations. She considers the frazzled looking pre-school mom photo, remembering the happiness she felt having graduated from that stage of her life. Conversely, the put-together mom she sees when looking at photos of herself and her children during the baby stages seems an inaccurate representation of her struggle during that season.

I enjoy the conversation Laura initiates and encourage you to check out her podcast. If you’re interested in what others are saying about this topic, check out #10ThingsToTellYou on the standard socials.