In 2009 I hosted a ladies pants party at my outdoor clothing store, with a fledgling Montana based company. Red Ants Pants had started making bomber work pants specifically for women and Sarah Calhoun, the company’s owner and founder, would take her show on the road if someone had a venue and a group of gals who would be interested in buying pants.
Granted, I was selling technical and casual outdoor clothing, not workwear. However, Sarah’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for empowering women struck a chord with me. I even bought a pair of pants for myself, which, over the following years, I’ve rarely worn because they generally don’t suit the needs of an outdoor educator.
Fast-forward to the past couple of months and I have found myself in a new profession as a budding carpenter. How exciting, I had cause to break out my Red Ants Pants.
I once read that it takes 10,000 hours to master an activity. This is equivalent to 417 days. If you only dedicate 40 hours per week to the task, it comes out to nearly five years of work at one thing to gain mastery. And when it comes to hobbies, who has 40 hours a week to devote to extracurriculars? Under that premise, how many things can you consider yourself an expert in?
My husband is a finish carpentry wizard. I had always assumed this because I love him and strive to be a supportive wife. Now that I am working side by side with him, I am witnessing expert mastery at its finest. His pace, efficiency and preciseness with nearly every task are astounding. I, on the other hand, need some practice.
Just the other day, after I had spent a few hours grunting, cursing, inflicting minor injuries on myself and pouting, Stuart handed me my water bottle and said, “Here, you look thirsty; parched actually.” As I graciously took a few gulps I thought to myself, “Hey, I know this trick!”
This past weekend I had a delightful opportunity to engage in some outdoor educating. A couple of friends who are new to Sheridan and winter sports in general were interested in learning to cross-country ski. As we hit the trail I brandished my enthusiasm for kicking and gliding, pole use, getting up after falling and generally sharing as much knowledge as the pair could absorb.
Being told to use every inch of your body in completely foreign ways can be exceptionally frustrating. My new friends handled themselves with poise and humor as they took on learning the basics of their new activity. Although, there were a couple of points at which I noticed the feelings of defeat were running high, so I stopped the group and suggested we all take a drink of water. We all needed to stay hydrated after all.
Simply because you aren’t great at an activity right off the bat doesn’t mean you should write it off. Just like artistry, baking and carpentry, many outdoor pursuits require a great deal of technique and skill, which are only developed through patience and a lot of practice. Do some research on equipment, buy the right pants, hire a guide or get an experienced friend to teach you the basics, and enjoy the journey of mastering a new outdoor venture.
Julie Greer is a member of the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Commission.