Since I'm asking you all to share your testimony, I figured I should lead by example. Here it goes...
The Slacklife has changed my life in more ways than I can count. The first time I stepped on a slackline was the first time in my life I remember feeling real, true, passion for something that was not another person. And it wasn’t just about the activity. I played all kinds of sports growing up, but nothing had ever given me THAT feeling. It was like I woke up out of a haze and found my purpose. Found the ability to break old habits and change how I was living in drastic ways—change my priorities, my goals, my job, my future, my idea of stability, and most importantly, change the way I think.
I had no idea the person I wanted to be when I stood up on a slackline for the first time, or the person I would become after that day. I was only 21, but my life was already feeling stagnant. I was about to graduate college, yet had no idea what my next step would be. I wasn’t passionate about my degree or any potential job prospects. None of it felt right. My everyday life was the same monotonous routine, and pretty much my only hobby was hanging out with friends and drinking. And it wasn’t even that we were alcoholics…we just didn’t have anything else to do. We were bored. Everyone around me spent all their free time drinking to forget about the stresses of the week, and if I wanted a social life, then I did too. At the time, the world just seemed like a small place. I didn’t really realize there were other options or things I would be interested in. Now that I’ve found the Slacklife, it is full of potential.
When I realized how much I could enjoy such a simple activity…when I realized how much it could change my life, I truly embraced the concept of trying new things and saying ‘YES’ to life. I wanted to try EVERYTHING. What else could give me this feeling?
I finally had a reason to start spending more time outdoors which, of course, ended up making me happier and less stressed overall. I became addicted to going outside and being in nature. I had always been so caught up in my head and my drama and my life that I never realized how truly amazing it could feel to disconnect and just be.
For the first time in my life, I had something I wanted to get up early and go do. I’m a night owl, and I’ve had many a hangover in my life, and I never used to care if I had to suffer through a lack of sleep or the consequences of a rowdy night during school or work. But after feeling how it slowed me down when it came to something I actually WANTED to do, I learned my lesson quick. I stopped going out and drinking as much, started going to bed earlier, and started prioritizing my health overall.
All my life, I thought of food as something to be avoided. A burden that I’d spend all my time worrying about. Thinking about my last meal and feeling guilty. Or what my next meal would be and how badly I wanted something else. Or how many hours I would have to work out to burn that off. Or how many calories were in an egg white. That kind of stupid shit.
I see now that I didn’t appreciate my body at all. Once I started highlining and backpacking, that all began to shift. I realized how incredible our bodies are and everything they do for us. It is my body that allows me to do these long, hard, hikes to the most beautiful places in the world. It is my body that allows me to walk over a cliff and accomplish other seemingly impossible feats. I soon began thinking of food not as a burden, but as fuel to do amazing things (how I should have thought of it the entire time). I stopped seeing my body as fat; instead, I started seeing it as capable. Without a doubt, one of the greatest gifts the Slacklife has given me was to free me from those thoughts that used to consume nearly every waking second of my existence.
Ironically, the moment I stopped caring about my food intake is the moment I’d finally accomplish all those goals I had for myself. I’m the lightest I have ever been, and I could care less. I lost nearly 20 lbs over the past four years, just from living the Slacklife. I stopped dieting completely and forcing myself to work out. I started treating exercise as it should be treated: as play! And the results have been incredible. Now I’m obsessed with seeing all the amazing things I can get my body to do. I’m obsessed with training it—not to lose weight, but to see how superhuman it can become.
Highlining, specifically, has showed me a resilience and persistence buried deep inside myself that I never knew I had. When you can walk across a cliff-- when you can feel the fear and do it anyway--suddenly everything else doesn't seem so scary anymore. True life lessons.
Job interview? Easy. Karaoke? Public speaking? Why was I ever afraid of shit like that? Feeling that true, primal fear like you do in highlining, and working past it, creates a confidence in you like no other.
Highlining has also taught me how truly precious our time and our lives on this Earth really are. When you do something that seemingly challenges death on a regular basis, it has a way of highlighting the important things in life and minimizing all those petty ‘problems’ that weren’t really problems in the first place. I value my time on this Earth so much more now, and I don’t want to waste it on anything that doesn’t challenge me, on anything that doesn’t make me better, on anything I’m not passionate about, and on anyone who doesn’t value my time in return.
Over the past four years, the Slacklife has brought community, adventure, and even love into my life. I have come to understand myself, my mind, my wants, and my needs better than I ever have before, and I now have a better idea of the person who I want to be in the future: Someone that is ever changing and growing; one that never stops learning, wherever life may lead me. A person that embraces challenge and hardship with all my heart, and who does her best to always live a purposeful life.
I could keep going, but ultimately, what I am trying to say is this: It has been such a blessing to find the Slacklife. It saved me from a life I didn't want to live.