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Paddling Out of My Comfort Zone

by Alissa Seislove, Venture Outdoors Communications Intern
img_1211In the earlier years of my life, I was never much of the adventurous type. To me, it was always comforting to do things I was familiar with and not stretch my boundaries much further than that. When I started school at the University of Pittsburgh I like a lot of new students in college, wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I began by taking advantage of all of the opportunities the campus has to offer by joining some new clubs and getting involved as much as possible. Subsequently, the university setting was a bit overwhelming with all of the new people and living adjustments. In order to de-stress, I wanted to do something that could make me healthier physically and mentally in order to excel in that new school year.
As a Pitt student, we travel down to Heinz Field every so often for the football games. While there, it’s hard to miss the kayakers in the water on the North Shore getting in their boats under the bridge and paddling towards the field or across the river wading at The Point. img_1212Having heard about the benefits and enjoyment of kayaking from friends, this sight had me intrigued. Since I was only a new student at the time, I was shocked to see these outdoor activities much more accessible in a city than I had assumed. I wanted to stick to my resolution of stepping out of my comfort zone, so my friends and I had signed up.
Since, at the time, this activity was a little out of my comfort zone, I was nervous about falling in the water or just simply not being good at the sport. The instructors explained what to do very calmly and I realized how simple it is – nothing to be nervous about! The first time floating in the water is so serene, but I also had an urge to paddle everywhere and explore. After about an hour on the water, it was easy to conclude that the trip was even more fun, and tiring, than it looks! The view of the city from the water between the bridges is breathtaking and much to my enjoyment, I took tons of pictures. It was great to go with a group of friends and follow each other up and down stream, but it is certainly an activity that you could sign up for on your own and paddle at your own pace. Kayaking can be great for both stimulating or relaxing your mind, it all depends on the nature of the trip you plan!
That first kayaking experience has opened me up to new adventures on and off the water. I have been kayaking at the North Shore again with clubs from Pitt and am always eager to recommend the experience to anyone. Also while traveling, I have gone snorkeling in caves, hiking up mountains, and stand-up paddle boarding at the beach. If I had not already had a similar outing experience like kayaking, I would have been more nervous about pursuing those other activities. My first experience at North Shore with Venture Outdoors also made me familiar with the company, which eventually led to my current internship! This goes to show, if you’re ever apprehensive about something, try it anyway. You never know what opportunities it could lead to!

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