What the hell have I gotten myself into?!?!?!” Ah, my favorite eight little words + 6 question marks and exclamation points that are an integral part of any adventure. For we all know, it is not an adventure until something goes wrong. 

Hiking the AT TrailM. Bordaux, the author of the blog Thru Hiker 2013, wrote just days before he was to take his first step of all 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail over the course of 6 months, “That’s when my brain decided to let it sink in that I was actually doing this. And as I’m being honest here, for that moment as the plane took off my thoughts were not “wahoo this is it I’m finally doing it I’m on my way.” No! My thought at that moment when it sunk in that I had just left all my loved ones and my most loved one my amazing wife for six months was ‘Oh Fuck, what the hell have I got myself into’!


This self-imposed question should be asked as much as possible in our lives. It means that we’re taking a risk and we’ve opened up the opportunity to truly screw up, fall flat on our faces, and simply stated, to fail.

Every adventure should have this moment. Surely, on a 6 month adventure, there will be moments of high and low. Moments in which there is no other place he’d rather be, and moments when he wishes more than anything to be anywhere but there. And as I ponder the experience that awaits him over the next 6 months, I can’t help but think about some of my own “What the hell have I gotten myself into” moments and what they’ve taught me.

30 Mile, 12 Hour Skate Trek from Boulder to Denver, CO

Lauren Rains microadventure

  • At 3PM, I called my mom and said to her, “This sucks. My feet are killing me. The skyline of Denver looks like a dot. It’s hot as hell. There is no way I’m going to get there before sunset.” At that point, I thought I was pretty freaking stupid for deciding I’d skateboard between Boulder and Denver. I wanted to give up.
  • At 8PM, I skated into my destination in the center of downtown Denver. 8 PM on October 12th was one of the happiest, most rewarding, most freeing moments of my life. I had done it. I had gotten myself through what I’d gotten myself into. Sure, my body was tired, but my mind was more awake and aware than I can describe. I felt so present in that moment – I go back to it all the time.

50 Mile, 48 Walk Along the Atlantic Ocean

  • At 7AM, I began my walk as the sun was rising and the first beach goers were setting out their lounge chairs. By the time 9AM had rolled around, I’d unloaded my pack, and I was already a bit bored. By the time 1PM rolled around, the Florida sun was burning me to a crisp and there was no escaping it. I thought to myself, “So this is what it must be like to cross the Sahara by foot. Everything looks the same, the sun surrounding you with no escape, and your destination seems infinite from where you stare into the horizon.” I had a day and a half left of this. What the hell had I gotten myself into, I thought?
  • At 6PM the next day, I arrived back at the very spot I started at. My shoulders were bruised from my heavy pack, my feet in pain to the point where I thought I’d seriously injured myself, and my skin 5 shades darker. My friend met me on the beach and handed me a beer and asked me how it went. I smiled and said I’ve never loved and hated the beach so much. I can’t wait to do it again.

Why do we do these things?

Why do we put ourselves through these challenges?


There is nothing more rewarding than standing on the top of a 14er’s summit after waking up at 4AM to hike up to the top, just so you can see the life-changing view that reminds us just how small we are, just how beautiful and vast this planet we live on is, and just how capable of overcoming a challenge we can be.

There is nothing more rewarding than surfing your first overhead break that time and time again before sent you crashing back into the shore as the other surfers watched you tumble. Now, you and the ocean understand each other – and there’s no other feeling like it.

There is nothing more rewarding than crossing the finish line at the marathon you trained 2 months for; running every single day, ditching hangout sessions with friends so you can keep up with your training schedule, and literally feeling like you’re killing your body in the process.

So my advice for you today – get yourself out on an adventure that you’re scared you won’t be able to get yourself out of. Hike from sunrise to sunset without stopping, kayak the circumference of an island, skateboard between two cities! Think about M. Bordaux and the 6 month journey he’s committed himself too. It’s a grand adventure that he’s on, and that’s exactly how life should be lived.

FOR THE COMMENTS: What has been one of your most memorable “What the hell have I gotten myself into” moments? 

(I read and reply to every content here on OMM. Hearing your stories is the most rewarding part of sharing my own!)

Image Credit: Seed

About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.

4 Responses

  1. Megan

    Oh man, the ever-present “What the hell?!” moments. I’ve had them during 14’er hikes, during half marathon training and the race itself, while trying to learn how to surf in Australia during a storm, while SCUBA diving in Thailand and ascending a chimney, wondering if I’d ever get out…but its all worth it, especially when you look back and can say “Holy shit, *I* did that. I really did that.”

  2. Ariel

    A friend once told me to ‘always say yes, and freak out later’, which turned out to be rather good advice when it comes to adventure – it always makes for an interesting journey! I just recently moved to Chile (for work, ish), basically with a couple week’s notice, and while I’m totally loving every minute of it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a “What the hell am I doing” moment in the airport! Looking back, these kinds of moments almost always lead to the best experiences, though!

  3. Vic Chatwinner

    When I decided to live on the street for a summer in a big city and just hang out at coffee shops the entire time and be a tramp. Well, one night after it rained it dropped down into low 40's high 30's and all I had were my street clothes and thermal underwear and a piece of plastic to wrap up in that I found partially buried. I didn't think the sun was going to ever dawn. What the hell was tossed about when I realized just how cold it was going to be that night in July.