By: Noah Zaiser
The question presented before me asks “How I’ve changed with two weeks in the wilderness.” The easy answer would go something along the lines of “I’m a better person because I can pitch a perfect tent, read a map proficiently, or cook something that isn’t oatmeal,” but the truth is this: I as a person haven’t changed. I’ve adapted. In all honesty, I consider myself to be very much of the same person. I’d rather have Special K for breakfast every morning instead of firing up a stove. I’d rather wake up early to go running rather than getting up to pack my current livelihood away for the next campsite. I’d even rather go work a 6-hour lifeguard shift instead of hike for a day. But all this aside, I am the same person, just with new and exciting life skills under their sleeve. I’ve come to a realization these past couple weeks and it’s that Noah Lee Zaiser doesn’t have to change, he just has to become a better version of himself, which is to my surprise and pleasant satisfaction, exactly what has taken place. The same kid who was strong enough to carry a nearly 50 pound sandbag during a Tough Mudder can now carry a 50 pound bag up a mountain and down for hours. Sure, I could make eggs at home, but now I’m dishing out buffalo-egg hashbrowns with hot drinks for my breakfast rounds. As a bonus, I thought I could tie the best runners triple know in the world before I got out there, but now my Trucker’s Hitch knot puts my previous accomplishments to shame. This is what I’m trying to communicate. I’m the 18 year old guy with the skillset I previously possessed, I’ve just been able to adapt the skills as one particular lifestyle into one that truly demands another. Essentially, I hope to implement this mindset into the basis of the rest of my college career. Putting it simply, college is a huge transition process for everyone, life is never the same. But in order to succeed in college, one must adapt. High school was a previous lifestyle and a university setting is a completely new one. Someone doesn’t have to change who they are to be successful, it all rides on how well they adapt to new, difficult, and exciting things; a brand new setting. And this is how I specifically attribute my ‘change’ (for a lack of a better word), to the last fourteen days as a wilderness resident in the very weather-confused state of Wyoming. It’s about building upon what you have, rather than completely replacing your skills. Not only do I intend to build here in the woods, but also through my four years or more of college as I continue to adjust to the turbulent transition into a real adult. So when it’s all said and done, I if I can continue to adapt my life rather than change it as I’m doing on the current NOLS course, who knows? Perhaps everything will turn out all right. Here’s to adjustment.