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The Nerve to Be Alone Ft. Nicole Antoinette

One of the biggest fears my clients often have is being alone. It’s astonishing how many things come up when I give them homework to go to dinner alone, a movie alone, or take a trip alone. 

In today’s episode, Nicole Antoinette joins me. 

Nicole is a writer, long-distance hiker, and former indoor kid who never imagined she’d wind up spending months of each year pooping in the woods. 

She is the author of two adventure memoirs, HOW TO BE ALONE (April 3, 2023) and WHAT WE OWE TO OURSELVES (September 5, 2023), and she writes a weekly newsletter on Substack called Wild Letters. She can be found at backpackingbooks.com.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The biggest repeat offender in Nicole’s mind as she was hiking 800 miles. 
  • Dealing with the fantasy vs. reality of things. 
  • The power of continuing to show up. 
  • Nicole’s best advice on how to be alone. 
  • The magic of getting something to a place you love and accepting that THAT is enough. 

Don’t miss this incredible and impactful conversation!

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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Susan Hyatt (00:00):
Is there something you wish you had the nerve to do? Welcome to, you've Got Nerve, the podcast that teaches you how to conquer your fears, upgrade your mindset, and get up the nerve to go after whatever you want. If you wish you had the guts to go all in on your goals, dreams, and desires, this show is for you. I'm Master certified life coach Susan Hyatt, and I am so excited for you to join me on this journey.

(00:31):
In today's episode, Nicole Antoinette joins me. Nicole is a writer, long distance hiker and former indoor kid who never imagined she'd wind up spending months of each year pooping in the woods. She is the author of two Adventure Memoirs, how to Be Alone, that was just released and the upcoming soon-to-be released, what we owe to ourselves that releases in September. She also writes a weekly newsletter on subs called Wild Letters. One of the biggest fears my clients often have is being alone. It's astonishing how many things come up when I give them homework to just go to dinner alone or a movie alone, or take a trip alone. And when Nicole was a relatively new backpacker, she ventured out on a long distance hike, completely alone. She was never an outdoorsy person, had never even camped outside until her thirties. And I'm so thrilled to dive into this juicy story. In this episode, Nicole and I discuss the biggest repeat offender in Nicole's mind as she was hiking 800 miles, dealing with the fantasy versus reality of things. The power of continuing to show up, Nicole's best advice on how to be alone, the magic of getting something to a place you love, and accepting that that is enough tune in to this incredible and impactful conversation. Welcome to, you've got Nerve Nicole.

Nicole Antoinette (02:02):
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. It's so delightful to be here to see you, to get to talk about all the things.

Susan Hyatt (02:09):
Now listen, we were just, y'all, before I started recording, we were talking about the fact that we've been connected for like eight or nine years online. I interviewed Nicole for a blog series I was doing, and then I was also on Nicole's podcast. And there's a lot of life that has been lived since then. And um, the latest thing is you have a new book out called How To Be Alone.

Nicole Antoinette (02:34):
Yes, I do my very first book.

Susan Hyatt (02:37):
Wow. And how does it feel to be a published author?

Nicole Antoinette (02:41):
It feels wild. I think <laugh>, I I feel like it's the both and of when you've wanted something for such a long time. I think the downside is that, at least for me, like I put it on a pedestal a lot mm-hmm. <affirmative> for a long time. And in order to be able to actually write a book and go through this process, I had to take it off the pedestal somewhat to be like, okay, this doesn't have to be the be all, end all defining moment of my life. That's, I I had made the stakes too high, I think. Yeah. So I feel really proud of the fact that I did it. Um, I don't know how much you wanna talk about the writing aspect of things, but it's, it was a long journey. Um, like the hike itself, which is, you know, it's about an 800 mile hike. The hike itself was a long journey. The writing was a long journey and yeah, the fact that I stuck with it and didn't quit, which I wanted to do it many times along the way, both of the hike and the book makes me feel good.

Susan Hyatt (03:33):
Okay. So how to Be Alone. The subtitle is an 800 Mile Journey. Well, I'm gonna butcher it. What's the subtitle?

Nicole Antoinette (03:42):
An 800 mile hike on the Arizona Trail.

Susan Hyatt (03:44):
Okay. Now, when you had the premise for the book, um, did the hike come first or the what came first? The chicken or the egg. Like did you hike first and then say, I need to write about this, or you're like, no, I'm gonna write a book and I'm gonna go do this.

Nicole Antoinette (04:01):
Yeah, the hike came first for sure. Okay. So I did, I did the hike, uh, in the fall of 2017

Susan Hyatt (04:06):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Nicole Antoinette (04:07):
And that came first. Yeah.

Susan Hyatt (04:09):
So something that I think is interesting is that, um, in coaching my clients, one of the biggest fears people have is being alone. And like even dining alone, sometimes I'll assign to people like, Hey, take a baby step and like, go have lunch all by yourself. And all of the things that come up around going to a movie alone, dining alone, taking a trip alone, I do retreats and there's a lot of coaching that happens around just getting on the plane, the train the boat, um, without somebody that, you know. Um, so how did this concept come to you to, to write about how to be alone?

Nicole Antoinette (04:55):
So the hike that I did, I went alone mostly because I didn't know anyone else that wanted to go or that had the time flexibility to go, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> being self-employed, one of the great things for me is time, autonomy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and, you know, having time to travel and in this case hike is, is a huge perk. And for me, the main reason that I set out to do this hike in particular, cause I was a really relatively new backpacker. Like I grew up in Manhattan and in London, and my parents never did anything outdoorsy. And I never went camping at night in my life. What the

Susan Hyatt (05:31):
Fucking minute right now? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. You grew up in Manhattan?

Nicole Antoinette (05:35):
I did.

Susan Hyatt (05:37):
And London. Listen y'all, I need a screenshot of this back. She's got plants. She got a little top knot. She is like, about as outdoorsy. Like if there is a prototype, listen, you need a, a brand deal with r e I or somebody. Okay. But

Nicole Antoinette (05:57):
Yeah, it was, it was pretty unlikely. I didn't go camping for the first time until I was in my early thirties. Like this was, I was such a complete beginner. My parents were like, what happened to you? How did you become someone who like digs a hole to poop in it in the woods? Like, where, where did we go wrong? Um, no, but it's, it was something that I didn't get into, like I said, until later in life. And so I was such a beginner and one of the things that comes with being such a beginner for me can be a lot of imposter syndrome of, oh my gosh, everyone out here knows way more than me. And this hike I was at a period of time in my life, I had always been pretty independent, um, and relatively comfortable being alone, at least in the circumstances that you described, going out to eat alone or going to do an activity alone.

(06:40):
It's not something that had ever really bothered me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but I was going through a period of time in 2017 where I was really caught in a loop of people pleasing and caring so much about what other people thought about me or thought that I should do with my life or thought of my work or my relationships. And it felt really uncomfortable that I had like lost the ability to make decisions for myself or to not crowdsource everything. You know, I had certain friends that I would call for one thing and then I would've other friends to call to talk about those first friends. Like, it just, it was not cute. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And part of what I wanted getting into long distance hiking was more self-reliance. Not to like glorify the independence, pull yourself up by your bootstraps or like, obviously that's bullshit.

(07:26):
But I did crave putting myself in a situation where I had, would have no choice other than to listen to myself and not just give my power away to other people all of the time, which I felt like I was doing. So a little bit of it was, that was what I was looking for. I felt like the going by myself wasn't the hurdle to overcome as much as that was sort of the thing that I was craving mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but I didn't know how alone I was gonna be. So the Arizona Trail, for folks who don't know, it's um, about 800 miles and it runs the length of the state. So from Mexico to Utah or Utah to Mexico, depending upon which way you hike. And this was in 2017, long distance hiking I think has gotten quite a bit more popular in the years since.

(08:05):
And the Arizona trail specifically has gotten more popular and most people that hike it go north in the spring because there's more water <laugh>. And I went south in the fall, like an idiot <laugh>, and there was, there was nobody water. Um, but there was nobody out there. Like I met over the course of 800 miles, I met three other hikers and there would be times where it was like 2, 3, 4 days where I wouldn't see any other people, which maybe Susan doesn't sound like a lot, but coming from the kind of environments that I was used to Yeah. Where you're surrounded by people all the time, it very much was like, cool, the zombie apocalypse has happened. I'm the only one left. Like, it was so wild for me to have to spend that kind of time with myself.

Susan Hyatt (08:45):
Whoa. Okay. So 800 miles, how long did it take you?

Nicole Antoinette (08:51):
44 days.

Susan Hyatt (08:52):
So you hiked for 44 days, and did you have cell service some of the time?

Nicole Antoinette (08:59):
Sometimes it kind of depends where you are, how remote it is, like there, what you go into town every, you know, three to five days usually to resupply to get more food, to do laundry, to shower, depending upon, you know, what the hike is. That was what I was doing. Um, and so you would have cell phone service in town and occasionally I would have it out on trail, but honestly not that much. And most of the time I keep my phone in airplane mode anyway because, um, just like not wanting to run down the battery too much.

Susan Hyatt (09:28):
Holy crap. Okay. 44 days and you would see a person perhaps every three to four days

Nicole Antoinette (09:36):
In some sections. Yeah. In, in, you know, so the trail goes through the Grand Canyon. So that was kind of this whirlwind of, oh, there's a lot of people all of a sudden here. So there definitely were pockets of time that were like that, which was almost more disorienting going from not seeing anyone to them seeing a lot of people, but it was for sure the most alone that I had ever been. And a large part of it for me was like really having to learn to be a better friend myself. Mm-hmm. Realizing a lot of the things that I would say to myself in my own mind were just really unkind. Mm-hmm. And particularly during moments that I perceived to be my own weakness. Right. What's wrong with you that you are so slow? Or why are you crying again? Or just get over it or, you know, that type of thing. And I realized after a while that I was my only company, and so if I was bad company, like what am I doing out here? Right. That Right. The only person I have to be with is me. And if I'm being so mean to myself, like that actually doesn't work. So can I try maybe to not be such a jerk to myself? Which was something that I really intentionally worked on a lot on the trip.

Susan Hyatt (10:39):
Wow. And what would you say was like the biggest repeat offender in your mind of like a, a crummy thought that you were like, Ugh, can't believe I'm saying this to myself?

Nicole Antoinette (10:52):
That's a good question. Um,

(10:57):
I think I had expected it to get easier at a certain point. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, a lot of what was difficult for me as a new long distance hiker was the gap between the fantasy of the thing and the reality of the thing. Mm. Right. If you follow a lot of long distance hikers on Instagram, and obviously we're talking about this through the lens of hiking, but I think this could be true for other things. It could be true for entrepreneurship, it could be true for running, it could be true for having kids, it could be true for anything where if what you are seeing are whatever the equivalent to the shiny summit photos, not that people don't have a right to post those. Right. You worked hard to get to the summit. Yes, absolutely. Show me the beautiful view from the summit, but I just was so unprepared for how hard it was gonna be, or at least how hard it was gonna be for me as a beginner.

(11:42):
And so part of the self-talk that kept coming up that was like, that repeat offender, like you said was like, what's wrong with you? That you're not better at this by now? Or what's wrong with you that you're crying about this again? Or what's wrong with you that you're still having such a hard time? And you know, I was out there in theory for fun and you know, I I think a lot these days about something that my friend Lauren said to me that it's a privilege to be able to choose your suffering. Right. Because like, I think that we can over glorify suffering mm-hmm. <affirmative> and there's a big difference between suffering that you can't control. And like, I could have quit at any time. I could have gone home. Right, right. I had a home to go back to, but even that, it's like, you know, what's wrong with you that you can't enjoy this thing that you are doing for fun? So it was a lot of that, I think.

Susan Hyatt (12:33):
So a lot of like everything, uh, leading with what's wrong with you

Nicole Antoinette (12:38):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm.

Susan Hyatt (12:39):
<affirmative>. By the time you got to the end, what was like most improved?

Nicole Antoinette (12:48):
I think it's funny because there's a tendency with journeys like this to, I don't know, almost like push yourself into an epiphany, right? Like, and then I got to the end and my whole life was different <laugh> and it wasn't right. Some things were different, some things were different that I lost as soon as I got off the trail, which is why I keep going on long distance hikes. Right. That's why I'm out there every year because there's something about it. But I think the thing that changed the most for me, or that's most impactful when I look back now is I have a really clear memory. The last town stop that I made to go and get more food was 50 miles from the end. It was a little town called Patagonia. And when I was on the trail that turned into a dirt road that turned into a paved road going into town. And I looked at the map and I knew I had 50 miles left. That was the first time of the whole hike that I actually believed that I was gonna be able to finish.

Susan Hyatt (13:36):
Whoa.

Nicole Antoinette (13:37):
Which was such an impactful moment. And it was really emotional and I felt so proud of myself. But what really shook me was I had heard my whole life, sort of the platitudes of, you have to believe in yourself, right? You have to believe in yourself first. You have to love yourself first. Nothing's gonna be possible if you're not your own biggest cheerleader. And it was interesting to realize that I had just hiked 750 miles not believing that I was gonna be able to get to the end. And I sort of woke up to this idea that like, oh, maybe I learned to believe in myself by doing the thing. Right? That it's like brick by brick by brick. Like I, I used to think that I couldn't do something if I didn't believe that I could do it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And this really proved that wrong for me.

(14:20):
That, you know, you cannot believe in yourself every single day and keep literally putting one foot in front of the other and then eventually if you just keep not quitting, you will get to the end. And I was like, I almost felt like someone had tricked me, right. That I was like, where was this truth in the past that I don't have to believe in myself in order to do the thing? And so, you know, I, I don't know that that was necessarily like self-talk that had changed, but it opened up more pathways for me in my off trail life to be able to just try something or just experiment or just start without having any idea whether or not I could actually do it.

Susan Hyatt (14:58):
I love that so much because it's like, just keep showing. I'm always like, you know, listen, there are way better speakers than me, way better writers than me, way better coaches than me, way better business people than me. But I just keep showing up every day. You know? And it's like, you're right. Like if you just keep showing up brick by brick, moment by moment, step by step, you're gonna get to the end of that trail. But I wonder if now when you return to the trail through evidence of having done this 800 mile hike, do you believe in yourself more because you have that track record?

Nicole Antoinette (15:36):
Yes, definitely. I mean, I think that experience, there's no substitute for experience. Um, it's, it's funny. So this hike was in 2017 and then in 2018 I set out to hike the whole p c t, the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a lot longer. It's, you know, 2,600 miles. 26 50. Oh wow. And I quit, uh, three months and 1600 miles in. And it was this like really public experience of quitting something mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think part of what gave me the confidence to quit and not worry as much about what people were gonna think, you know, was I a failure, you know, whatever those star stories are that we tell ourselves did come from the experience. And at I no longer feel like I have anything to prove, which I think wasn't true in 2017. I ha And not necessarily to other people. I did feel like I had something to prove to myself that I am going to do this hard thing and I am not going to quit.

(16:30):
And now I feel a lot more comfortable quitting, not just hiking, but other things. Um, I think that that's something else we can put on a pedestal is the not quitting. It's very much the both and of, if you keep not quitting, eventually you will get to the end or eventually you will get somewhere. And also sometimes quitting is the kindest thing that we can do for ourselves. And so I think that I have a broader understanding of that. And every hike that I go on, I'd say that there's a different why for them. Right? Like, I'm drawn to different things, certain hikes are, cause it's a, you know, a part of the country that I really wanna see. It's more about the landscape. Uh, sometimes it's more about the social aspect, the of the person that I'm going with, the people that I'm going with, uh, in, at the time of our recording now, in a couple weeks, I'm going out for my first hike of this year, and it's a type of hike I've never done before where instead of trying to get from a specific start point to a specific end point, I have a break in my work schedule of 21 days.

(17:27):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I have a one-way ticket out and a one-way ticket back. But it's basically I'm gonna push myself as hard as I can, more of kind of a physical athletic endeavor and see how far I can get in 21 days. And as I start to get close to the end, I'm gonna have to just figure out how to get off trail and hit your ride to the airport to fly home. So <laugh> <laugh>. So that's like, it's like a totally different reason, right? It's like, yeah. Not about who I'm gonna meet as or what I'm gonna see, but I'm curious of a different style of hiking.

Susan Hyatt (17:53):
What, um, what drew you to backpacking in the first place?

Nicole Antoinette (17:59):
So, going back in time a little bit, uh, I mentioned not being an outdoorsy kid at all. I also was not an athletic kid. I had never played sports. I was never like the little kid on the soccer team. Nothing, nothing. I was indoors, let's read a book, and that's all I wanted to do. Um, and what happened for me a month before my 26th birthday is when I got sober and I quit drinking and started running on the same day. Which it's like even thinking about that now, it's feels like so strange to me that that was what I chose as my way out of the hole. There was just some feeling in me that I can't quit drinking and remove this huge thing from my life without having something else to almost transfer my energy to. It would just have been too much of a big black hole.

(18:42):
Obviously I'm condensing a lot of things into this story, but Yeah. Yeah. Um, I couldn't run for two minutes at a time when I first started. Like, I was like a real, real, real beginner and running was the first thing that I ever started and was terrible at and didn't quit. And that really changed my life. I had had a history of really only doing things that I kind of already knew that I was gonna be good at. And I loved running until I didn't. I ran for about four years and, uh, found myself miserable kind of toward the end of those four years. Not because anything was wrong physically, but because I was afraid that if I stopped running, I would start drinking again. And so I wasn't doing it from a place of really enjoying it anymore. And so I told myself I was gonna take a couple of weeks off of running and, you know, sort out what was going on.

(19:25):
A spoiler that was in 2015 and I have not run since. Um, but, and which was a great, it was a great decision for me because it allowed me to do a lot of them, like deeper healing work and things that I really needed to do around my sobriety and other aspects of my life. But I found that I missed kind of the embodiment of it. Most of my life, I feel like my tendency is to live it from the neck up, basically. Like what's going on in my head. I have a body, I'm not just a floating head. Uh, and I missed that aspect of it and I missed the really tangible challenge of I couldn't lie to myself. Like, you either ran the miles or you didn't, you ran that time, or you didn't. And so I was really open to finding something else.

(20:01):
And that was around the time. Um, I was married at the time and, you know, my former spouse and I moved to Oregon and that was my first experience really kind of going on hikes and being in a place that people liked outdoor activities. Yeah. And, um, I found out about long distance hiking, and it was through, uh, a book, uh, called Through Hiking Will Break Your Heart by my now friend Kara Quinn. It's so good. It's a trail journal of a hike on the P C T and um, about someone who didn't get into it until their early thirties. And I was like, oh, this person who is not, you know, a tall, bearded white dude in flannel who's been doing outdoors in since they were two years old, they did this and didn't die. Maybe I also could do this and not die. Right. That it, it, and I lived in Oregon. I'm like, oh, the P C T goes through Oregon. Right. So it kind of like planted the seed for me that it was the next thing that I wanted to try.

Susan Hyatt (20:50):
Wow. And so I think that's when I knew you, you were in Oregon, married, um, already doing some hiking mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Nicole Antoinette (21:01):
And so it was Right. It was right at the beginning of that time. Yeah. Yeah. I have, I have a very clear memory of sitting at my desk in that office and interviewing you for my old podcast. Yeah. <laugh>.

Susan Hyatt (21:10):
So, so when you decided to do this 800 mile hike, um, and you wanted to like be better company for yourself, what do you think, like if, if someone were to say, and plenty people listening are like, oh my God, like that sounds great, but I don't know how to be alone. What would you say in terms of advice on how to be alone?

Nicole Antoinette (21:40):
It's funny because I feel like I'm trying to be a recovering advice giver <laugh>, but since you asked, let's say, um, I don't know that there's one thing that I could say that it's like, just do this and you'll be comfortable being alone because I think it really matters what the why is mm-hmm. <affirmative> that why I might have been uncomfortable being alone could be different from why you are uncomfortable being alone. Right. Is it just because it's unfamiliar? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, is it because of a traumatic experience is Right. Like, so I think the way to go about practicing being alone more is gonna depend on someone's specific situation. But I think, I guess let me share this and see if it's tan, tangentially relatable. Something that I really like to do for self soothing is to make lists. And one of the things that I did before this hike or that I talk about with other, um, like aspiring, you know, beginner hikers is for me it was like, okay, list number one at the top of the page says things I am afraid of.

(22:36):
Right. And then I am really honest on the page of what are all of the things that I'm afraid of? And this could be about a hike, it could be about being alone, right. What am I afraid of? And then kind of looking at that list, and maybe it's, you set a timer for five minutes or seven minutes and just write whatever comes up, put the list aside, come back to it, and then look at it and really evaluate what is and is not within my sphere of influence with those fears. Right. Like, some of the things that I'm afraid of, there's really nothing I, it's either gonna happen or it's not. Right. Like, I'm afraid of going out on these hikes alone because what happens if I get stalked by a mountain lion? Okay. I mean, that's a legitimate fear, right? Like, I know people that, that's happened to, it's rare, but it happens.

(23:13):
And if it were to happen, well that sucks, right? And so, but like in advance, there's really not much I can do about that other than learn, okay, are mountain lions present at the area that I'm going through, teach myself what the correct way to behave is if that were to happen. Right? There's only so much that you can do. Right? And then it's like, I think that that is really helpful to, to first like validate our own fears. There can be, I can have a tendency to really gaslight myself. You shouldn't be afraid of that. What's wrong with you? That you're afraid of that, right? Like, this is so silly, you should just get over it. And really being like, Hmm, no, I'm allowed to be afraid of anything that I'm afraid of. All of these fears are really valid starting there. And then what am I actually gonna do? Right? Is it I'm afraid of being alone because you know, I am gonna be lonely? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you probably are gonna be lonely. Right? And so then it's, it's almost like the second list I feel like is things that I could do if these fears came true mm-hmm.

Susan Hyatt (24:12):
<affirmative>.

Nicole Antoinette (24:12):
Right? And I, I mean, I, I don't know if any of this is, is making sense or sounds useful, but it's, and maybe it sounds like too simplistic, but it has really been helpful for me to allow myself to acknowledge what the actual fears are that I have. And then almost as a creative brainstorming exercise, well, what would I do if I was really lonely? Yeah. You know?

Susan Hyatt (24:30):
No, I think it's totally useful because it's like that with anything like a business investment, a relationship, anything. Like, here's what I'm afraid might happen and here's what I could do if these worst case scenarios did happen mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And am I gonna choose yes or no? Am I gonna choose to gamble? Um, you know, on potentially getting attacked by a mountain lion, which listen, I mean, I have a friend who lives in Alaska who had like a stand down with a bear. Like, these things can't happen if you're out in the wilderness. And it's part of the, the real risk. There are plenty of risks of a, a woman hiking 800 miles alone that I'm sure were plenty fearful for you.

Nicole Antoinette (25:18):
But, you know, I I also wonder how much of it we kind of overblow because I, I get a lot of questions about the being a woman alone part of it. And like, I have felt so much more unsafe in cities Oh, sure. Sometimes and surrounded by other people than I have alone. And so sometimes even that, it's like I have to step back and look at my fears with just a bit of a more critical eye and like, sure, I am afraid of this either because I've been socialized to be afraid of it, or everyone around me is afraid of it. But you know, statistically I'm a lot more likely to die in a car accident, <laugh> Right. Than to like, have something happen on trail and I drive my car every day. So it's like, some of that is helpful too, to look at like, what is the reality of the fear?

(25:59):
And then also, you know, I think one of the reasons that I at first was hesitant to, you know, do I wanna write adventure memoirs about these big hikes? Is because I think that someone can say, well, I'm never gonna hike 800 miles. I have no desire to do that. Or My schedule doesn't allow that, or I don't have the money to do that. All which are completely valid. Um, to think really in this black and white terms of, okay, well I could never do anything like that, so therefore I'm not gonna do anything even close. And it's been really helpful. I do that in other areas of my life too, but to remind, remind myself that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Right? Like, I could go out and backpack for one night, I could go camp at like the local state forest.

(26:37):
It doesn't like, we, I don't know. I think that the, I can make things too big of a deal sometimes that it's like if the fear is of being alone, it's not like, well, you need to go under the wilderness and not speak to anyone for two months. Right. Or like, go on a silent retreat where you don't make eye contact with anyone for 14 days. Like Sure. Or like you said, go get lunch alone. Right. And I feel like it's, for me, a lot of on this hike was being willing to just witness what was happening when it was happening without trying to fix it.

Susan Hyatt (27:08):
Mm.

Nicole Antoinette (27:09):
Like, I feel lonely, I feel sad, I feel scared. Okay, that's fine.

Susan Hyatt (27:18):
And they're all like feelings that we can all survive. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think we resist. I know for me, for a huge part of my adult life, um, being raised in the south and not ever wanting to be embarrassed, that for me was the biggest, most uncomfortable feeling state, was feeling embarrassed. And I would rearrange my life and how I operated in the world to avoid embarrassment at all costs. And then I became the parent of two children who really could give a fuck. Right now, like even today, like they, they are, they will call out the elephant in the room, they will say the uncomfortable thing. Um, they will. And I had to adjust and learn how to feel embarrassed and carry on and thank God for it. Right. And so I was like, wow. I spent, I like kept my life so small to avoid feeling anything painful. Um, whether like you're saying it's loneliness, disappointment, sadness, whatever, anger. And it's, it is such a freeing thing to allow yourself to feel what you're feeling and learn how to be compassionate about it with yourself and continue.

Nicole Antoinette (28:34):
Yeah. And you know, I think one of the lessons, if we can call it that, that I feel like I started to get from running and then also got from long distance hiking, was creating some space between how I felt about the thing and whether or not I could do the thing. Like I used to believe either something is hard or it's something I can do Mm. When actually something can be hard or feel hard for me. And also I can still do it. And I think that applies to this emotional stuff too, that it's like I don't have to feel totally confident being alone in order to go out and do something by myself. And I also think that sometimes I, I can get a little bit too obsessed with comfort mm-hmm. Of judging a situation by there being no uncomfortable emotions. And that is what a success looks like.

(29:26):
And I don't actually think that that's true. Right? If, if you go to a movie by yourself and you know, for for half of it, it feels really jittery and weird and you wonder if people are looking at you and judging you like that doesn't actually mean that it wasn't a successful experience. Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which doesn't mean we, like, we don't have to do things just because they're uncomfortable. I don't think that that's true either. But something that I think about, you know, with hiking and times that I have really wanted to quit or thought that I was gonna quit, it's like I just have to wanna stay out there like 1% more than I wanna go home. Like it actually, I don't have to want it 98%. Right? Like, if I just want it 1% more, then I'm afraid of it. That is actually enough.

Susan Hyatt (30:11):
I love that. I love that. And that is so true. Like with anything, with any goal, it's like, okay, finishing this book or getting on this stage or selling this program or whatever, it's like there are days when you're not gonna feel like it and wonder why you're in it at all. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then you can say like, okay, if I just want it 1% more than I don't

Nicole Antoinette (30:35):
Yeah. And that's enough. And it ta it like it takes as long as it takes. I think that something that I still continue to struggle with in the realm of comparison syndrome is thinking that other people have some secret that I don't have, or that their path is like smoother than mine. So I mean, for the, with the book, for example, so I finished the hike in November of 2017 and I started writing the first draft of the book in January of 2018. And I spent about six months writing the first draft of the book. And I was so elated and I was so proud of myself. And then a couple days after I finished writing the draft, I sat down and I read it and it was so bad. And I was so disappointed in my own mediocrity that I took the draft on my laptop and I hid it within multiple folders from myself and Susan. I did not look at it for two and a half years.

Susan Hyatt (31:24):
Shut up.

Nicole Antoinette (31:26):
So it takes what it takes, right? Yeah. Like I, it was so the, again, the gap between the fantasy of the thing and the reality of the thing, you know what? And now I laugh at kind of the narcissism of thinking that what I'm gonna be the only writer in history that, you know, never has to do any editing or writes like the perfect first draft. It's just like so funny what we tell ourselves, right? And for sure, yeah. I hid the draft for myself for two and a half years and I did not look at it again.

Susan Hyatt (31:50):
I, you know, I interviewed tons of authors and there is something about, um, you know, Melissa put her draft in a sad basket under her desk, right? And like, just like putting something down and being so mortified, um, by our art that it's not perfect. You know, I used to think that authors that it just flowed from their fingertips to their keyboard. Exactly. As I'm, as I am reading it, is how they wrote it. Like I had no concept of a shitty first draft and that professional editors would need to be involved bef and many renditions before this thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> was on a bookshelf and looked at the way that it looked. And I think that's with life, right? Like you were saying, whether it's backpacking or business or relationships or whatever, this idea that other people have it easier. And I think the more we can share stories like this, like, wow, this and memoirs are not easy to write, right? So first this 800 mile backpacking journey, then writing a book about it, that's a fucking memoir. And then, um, getting it out to the people. I mean, I think it's amazing. And, um, my question for you with backpacking is it sounds like you have many more backpacking journeys planned. Um, do you think you'll be backpacking forever or do you think you'll get sick of it someday and find something new like you did with running?

Nicole Antoinette (33:25):
I honestly don't think about it that much. I, something that I really used to judge myself for was this idea of what I considered being flighty, right? That I, I have always been the type of person that I really love something while I love it. And when I'm done, I'm done. Like, I'm quite light switchy about it, right? That it's the obsessive feeling and I've got 30 tabs open and I wanna read about this's, how I used to feel about running, right? And for pretty much everything except writing the light has eventually gone out. And I used to think there was something wrong with me because of that. And I think a lot of that comes from this, like, I'm just gonna call it a cultural fetish cuz that's how it feels. So maybe this like cultural fetish with longevity, right? Mm-hmm. That it's like a successful romantic relationship is you are together until somebody dies for decades and decades.

(34:14):
Right. Or, you know, the way to have a career is you find this passion when you're five years old and you do this thing and then you, you know, you keep going forever and ever. And I think for a rare number of people, that kind of stuff is true. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> particularly because the, um, industries in which fame is most common, whether that's athletics or, um, music, sometimes they require an earlier start, right? And that kind of passion. So maybe we, there's like a misconception that that's how it is for most people, but that's never been the case for me. And once I started giving myself permission, whether it was in my business or in other things, to just pour myself into something while I love it, and when I don't wanna do it anymore to gracefully as gracefully as possible, end it, pivot into something else, embracing that and making that a backbone of my life and my business and my hobbies has been so incredibly freeing.

(35:04):
So right now I'm really into long distance hiking. I mean, I think some of it too is since it's a physical activity, who knows, right? Like, I don't know what my physical ability is gonna be in years to come. That's not something that we can predict. I do think that eventually I probably will hit a point where I don't wanna be hiking like 20, 25 miles a day anymore. And honestly, that has really, um, shaped kind of how I'm planning my life right now. I'll be 38 in a couple months, and so what, maybe like five or six years maybe I wanna hike this mileage, right? This degree of things. And so I'm looking at what are the trails that are maybe more rugged or that require this kind of thing and prioritizing them now. It's definitely something that I think about because nothing's guaranteed

Susan Hyatt (35:47):
Nothing and tomorrow is not promised. And when is your birthday?

Nicole Antoinette (35:51):
June 13th.

Susan Hyatt (35:52):
Okay. I was gonna say, are you also a taris, but you're not, you're a cancer.

Nicole Antoinette (35:57):
I'm a Gemini.

Susan Hyatt (35:58):
You're a Gemini. Well, listen, I have a Gemini moon. Um, I agree with you on the longevity thing, and I also am some, even though I have many things I've done for a long, long time, I also am someone who is really obsessive on a topic. And same thing, I'll have a million tabs open. I will like binge that thing and then I'm done. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, I, I don't know if you know this, but I was a CrossFitter for 14 months <laugh>. And those 14 months I was all about it. And then one day I was like, I'm never going back. Yeah. I'm never going back.

Nicole Antoinette (36:36):
Yeah. And like that's fine. And it's not that longevity with one thing is a problem because if that's naturally what someone does wanna do or wanna pour themselves into, that's beautiful. That's how we have people who are master experts at things, right? Yes. Like, do I, if I need surgery, do I hope the person doing that surgery is not just like, obsessed with it for 10 minutes? Yes, definitely. You know, I, I think the issue is when we tell ourselves that there's only one right way to be, and then we weaponize how we really are against ourselves. Like I really weaponized this idea that I, what's wrong with you? You can't stick with something right. Against myself for so long. And like there's, there is truth to that in what I said before, that running was the first thing that I ever started was terrible at and didn't quit. And I, I love that now. I love that I am someone who can keep going. Even when something feels hard like that, the fact that no longer feels like a hurdle that I is too scary for me to overcome. And you don't have to keep going. Right? Like not, you don't know how you feel about something until you try it. And if you try it and it's not for you or you try it and it is for you for 14 months and then you're like, I'm good, why does that have to be a problem?

Susan Hyatt (37:44):
Yep. It's not. I love that about me. Yeah. That's one of my favorite phrases too. Whenever somebody has a problem including myself with something about me, I'm like, you know what? I love that about me, so suck it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Nicole Antoinette (37:55):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Suck it

Susan Hyatt (37:57):
Mind. Yeah. Um, so, um, are there more books in your future?

Nicole Antoinette (38:02):
So yeah, I, so okay, so there's this book about the Arizona Trail and then in September, uh, this, I have one other adventure memoir about, uh, the 500 Mile Colorado Trail. So that comes out September 5th. So yes, this is the year of the books. Listen,

Susan Hyatt (38:15):
You're like, yeah, I hid that from myself for two and a half years, but now I got tool books coming out. So

Nicole Antoinette (38:21):
That's, I mean, but what happened was I hit it for two and a half years and it was this open loop in my mind and I just kept feeling like I didn't want, the reason that I didn't complete a full length book project was because I was too scared of editing it or too scared of facing my own mediocrity, or too scared of having to build the skills to get better and find that I couldn't get better. Right? There was something in that that I felt like I couldn't live with. And so what allowed me to do it, to go back to it, was to lower the stakes of, even if nobody else ever reads this, I would like the experience of becoming a better editor. I would like the experience of becoming a better writer. I would like to apply what I have learned through hiking of not giving up the moment something feels hard to another area of my life that I also really care about. And that's what let me do it was because I'm like the on, like, the, the metric of success that I chose was get this to a place that you love it. Hmm. And that was good enough.

Susan Hyatt (39:14):
That is beautiful. And I'm very excited to check out these books because I am a Sunday hiker. So I hike this three and a half mile. It actually is kind of challenging, but hike almost every Sunday. Um, and I've done it for years. But, um, I've done longer hikes, but I w am really real. And my husband was a like, fourteener, like he would mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he would take a big trip every year and do a big hike with a bunch of guys. One year they had to be rescued off of a mountain in Colorado, which is a whole other story. But I, I am interested in doing a longer hike and my 50th birthday is coming up. And I think what I'm gonna do as a result of this podcast interview is like find a hike I wanna do in celebration of my 50th year. Like something that's like meaty.

Nicole Antoinette (40:03):
Well, if you'd like company, you know where to find me. <laugh>.

Susan Hyatt (40:05):
<laugh>. That's right. I love it. Um, well, we of course are gonna put all the links to your books and everything in the show notes. Is there any place in particular where people can come hang out with you online?

Nicole Antoinette (40:19):
The book website is backpacking books.com. So that's probably the easiest place. I have a link to my current gear list. If people are like nerdy about backpacking gear, I have a link to my hiking playlist, which the vibe of it is, it's 1:00 PM it's the hottest part of the day. You're standing at the base of the mountain, you do not wanna climb it, but you have to climb it. What's the song you put on? And so that's, that's my hiking playlist. But so all of those links are there, links to Instagram are there, although I'm quitting social media later this year, but that's a separate issue. But for now, for now, you can find me there. Yes.

Susan Hyatt (40:52):
I will have you back on the podcast to talk about quitting social media. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, is that a hot topic too?

Nicole Antoinette (40:56):
It is a, it's a very hot topic for me, especially now as an author when I'm like, man books do well on social media. Right? Like, I'm finally doing something in my business that like Instagram's really useful for and I'm still at the end of the year gonna walk away. So yes, would be happy to talk to you about it.

Susan Hyatt (41:11):
Okay. Awesome. All right, well thank you very much for sharing your nervy moves to be alone and share with us how to be alone. And, um, I wish you so much success with your next hike, with these book sales and whatever else you decide you're obsessed with.

Nicole Antoinette (41:29):
Well, thank you so much.

Susan Hyatt (41:34):
You wanna get up the nerve to make more money and claim everything else you want. The next round of my Beyond Mastermind starts May 10th. This is the place where people go beyond their wildest dreams and make big things happen. Members from the last group achieved in six months what it might have taken six years to accomplish without this program. So get all the details and apply. And also the next round of Bear Coach certification kicks off this. May we have just a couple of spots left. And Listen, bear is not just a book, it is not just a program. This is a movement. This work will help you unlearn everything society has taught you about shrinking yourself and your power. And as a bear certified coach, you can work with clients one-on-one with in groups, lead workshops, classes, retreats, design a bear inspired corporate wellness program, smash the patriarchy, all of the above, or whatever you feel called to do. Get Bear certified today. Registration information for both programs can be found in the show notes for this episode. Or just visit susan hyatt.co and you'll find all the information there. So until the next episode, I'm wishing for you to get up all the nerve you need to go after everything you want.

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