Indoorsy people, Outdoorsy people

If you’ll forgive the generalization, there are indoorsy people and outdoorsy people. People like me, who read books and do crossword puzzles, and knit. And then there are people who ski, and hike, and who seem to genuinely enjoy running.

As a committed indoorsy person, I’ve long felt conflicted about the outdoors. I enjoy a simple walk in the woods. I love birdwatching. And I even like roughing it, to a certain extent.

But to enjoy these pursuits, I find I often have to navigate through a morass of information geared toward outdoorsy people, and advice given by outdoorsy people. “This hike?” I ask, pointing at a map. “How hard is it?”

And outdoorsy people, damn you … you lie. “Oh!” you say. “No problem. A few hills. You’ll be fine.” And you are totally, totally lying.

You are lying because you’re forgetting that you’ve spent a lifetime as an outdoorsy person. You have a comfort with the outdoors that us indoorsy types do not. Just because it is no problem for you, does not make it no problem for us.

You know what’s not problem for me? Speaking English. It’s easy! I do it all the time, and I don’t think twice about it! You should have no problem speaking English, non-native-speaker, it’s a cinch.

That’s you, outdoorsy people. Forgetting that what is easy for you is not easy for others.

And you know how else you lie? You secretly lie because you also want us to really, really like the outdoors as much as you do. Just get us out there, you think, and we’ll be won over by campfires and the simple beauty of nature. So rather than accurately report the difficulties, you minimize them just a tad. Just a wee bit. You just can’t help yourselves, cause you really, really think we’d like it if we only tried it.

Let me tell you, outdoorsy people, these lies are not helping your cause. When I have feet covered in blisters cause you assured me this hike was totally doable, I’m not thinking, “What a wonderful idea this was, I can’t wait to challenge myself like this again.” I’m thinking, “Playing cribbage while drinking a cocktail is a much better way to spend my remaining hours on earth.”

But. Butbutbutbutbut. But. Despite being indoorsy, despite being burned in the past … I’d still secretly like to complete … some sort of physical challenge. I know, I know. I know. Listen, I’m not talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail or anything. I’m not nuts. I’d like to do something that, for me, would be a stretch.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben says:

    This is a great piece of writing. It sums up the issue perfectly. But there is one think I don’t understand — you’ve been to some pretty exotic paces. I’d have thought you had the outdoor stuff down. Also, how big of a physical challenge are you thinking?


    1. So glad you like it!

      It’s weird, right? I’m relatively comfortable with adventurous travel, but wimpy when it comes to the outdoors. I’ve slept in a tent maybe five nights in my life.


  2. TKMarkham says:

    Me too EL. Just to prove to myself that I can.


  3. Well there’s outdoorsy and outdoorsy. There’s the outdoorsy of buying lots and lots of equipment and special shoes and pants and shirts and jackets with extra pockets and waterproof matches, of guns and fishing poles and camo, of carrying lots of stuff on your back and still swatting mosquitoes that get under the netting, of sleeping in musty tents, not showering for days, calling out “bathroom break” and using leaves or burying toilet paper you brought in your backpack, of lots and lots of equipment, pots and pans of paper-thin aluminu and water disinfectant contraptions and pancake packets and washing off grease with cold water, of being tired and a little frightened and wondering how much longer you should stay in your sleeping bag. There’s also the outdoorsy, although the first kind of outdoorsy probably wouldn’t call it that, of binoculars and shorts and a cap for the sun, of bikes, of cameras and vistas not far from the car, of walking and talking with someone you care for, of planting and weeding and watching and waiting and harvesting. This and that. I’m not indoorsy, but I’m only one of the several types of outdoorsies there are out there for the taking.


    1. Oh yes, agreed; I am certainly grossly simplifying to make a point. (For the record, I did mention birdwatching and nature walks as enjoyable activities!)

      But based on, well, nothing at all, I feel like there’s not much middle ground between the two types of outdoorsy you mention. It’s either very do-able activities, or the all-in, crazy-gear, super-roughing-it, man-conquers-nature type stuff.


      1. Yup. Lots of bravado from the crazy-gear types. Had to deal with that all the time in Grand Marais, hunters, snowmobilers, jet-skiers, dirt-bikers. But also plenty of the other outdoorsy types there too, families, groups of high school and college kids, all out hiking, biking, rock-hounding, beach combing. Always enjoyable to talk with them.


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