My Tattoo Is A Symbol Of The Mountains I've Conquered

My Tattoo Is A Symbol Of The Mountains I've Conquered

And I realized that just because I made it to the top, nothing changed.
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When I started thinking about what exactly I wanted for my first tattoo--the mountains easily came to mind. Although I thought of getting butterflies to match my mom's tattoo, or "lómhara" as a way to memorialize my grandfather's last words to me (that means precious in Gaelic), or even the moon and planets since I've always felt a strong connection to them, the mountains really stuck with me.

Not only would they symbolize my adventure of moving out to Colorado, something that didn't even seem like a possibility for a homebody like me, and leaving my hometown behind to journey into completely unknown territory, the mountains have become so much more to me now.

What I thought would be the hardest mountains to climb, ended up being some of the easiest. Sometimes the path was simple, straightforward, and steady. Sometimes the trails got a little rocky, adding some altitude here and there, and even feeling blind so I would have to keep moving forward with only cairns to guide me every now and then. But I always got to where I needed to go.

There were other unknown peaks that I would end up summiting in my time out here. Those that I never anticipated, that I didn't see coming, and that would really try to break me. Sometimes I had to move backwards, or start over, or break for awhile. Sometimes I had to find a new route, or get over whatever obstacle was in my way to continue on. Sometime those mountains seemed impossible to overcome without getting hurt along the way. I was tired at times, I was lost, and I was alone out there, but I had hope that something better would come.

I would find something better.

But when you reach the peak, when you think you've made it, sometimes you hadn't. And I realized that just because I made it to the top, nothing changed. I was still tired, lost, and alone at times. But I kept that faith in that things would turn around for me.

Coming down the mountain is a much faster hike than going up. There are new challenges, but they are easy and there is an end in sight. All the time it took for you to get to the top and cherish the view for a little while, it can sometimes seem unworthy of your effort, your health, and your time. But coming down is much quicker, its not the slow and heavy time, its not the long and hard drive, its the calming effectiveness of almost getting where you didn't even know you wanted to be.

I found that my mountains were not based off of getting to top, but were best when I came back down as a new person. The climb is hard, the view is great, but the descent is where you actually change. I opened at the close.

My tattoo is a simple of my adventures--my struggles, my hardships, my experiences. And most importantly, my growth. My mountains are a reminder of what I've accomplished, of what I've survived, and of what I've been capable of. My tattoo is a symbol of all the theoretical mountains I've conquered in the past year and that is what I see every time I look at them. I can see where I've been close to the end, where I thought I was at the end, and where I thought I wanted to give up.

Sometimes in life, the mountain's peak is only halfway. And sometimes, the ending is what you were looking without ever even knowing it.

Cover Image Credit: Maddi Burns

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Things To Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is a big city with a booming night life and beautiful scenery.

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I recently took a long weekend trip to Vancouver. Here are some things I did and some ideas and suggestions for those visiting the city for the first time.

Cocktails

You can't come to Metropolitan Vancouver and not go out for drinks at least one night. There are so many restaurants and cocktail lounges around the city, it would be a shame to neglect to try some Canadian alcohol. The first night I was in town, I went to Juniper Restaurant and Bar in Chinatown.

They had a wide selection of different mixed drinks, and I was impressed with the flavors of all the different cocktails I tried. Most restaurants around the city sell alcohol, so do some research and try the different alcohol selections in the different parts of the city.

The drinking age in Canada is 19, so it was strange for me to go out and order cocktails for myself. Some places ask for two forms of Government issued ID, so be prepared by bringing your Drivers License and passport.

Clubs

The Roxy

During my time in the city, I never went to any clubs. My hotel was on the same block as several of the popular ones, and they seemed like a pretty big deal. I am used to the clubs in my college town, so I was not prepared to walk myself into a real uppity downtown club.

Some of them have dress codes and other rules so be sure to do some research before planning your whole night around being there. One down the block from my downtown hotel was called The Roxy Cabaret. I heard if you are wanting just one club to give you the full Vancouver experience, that was the one to try.

Markets

Granville Island Public Market Entrance

The most popular market in Vancouver is the Granville Island Public Market, very obviously located on Granville Island. The market has art galleries, the market itself which includes anything from artwork to fruits and meats, little shops, and restaurants.

There is a lot of entertainment there. Sometimes they host music festivals and other events during the summer, so expect to spend several hours there if you are wanting to get the full market experience.

During the summer, North Vancouver hosts The Shipyards Night Market. If you are wanting a taste of North Vancouver, including food, drinks, and culture, this is the summer event to go to. I ate some tasty Greek dessert and drank a sparkling vodka while listening to a live band. It was a great way to enjoy the beautiful evenings on the shore.

Whale Watching

Killer Whales

Vancouver is known for its beautiful landscapes and its salmon fishing. While I was there, we went whale watching in Steveston, British Columbia located right outside of Vancouver. During our 4 hour trip, we saw bald eagles, sea lions, killer whales, all with the backdrop of the beautiful North Shore Mountains.

Make sure to bring warm clothes and food. It was a really beautiful trip but the breeze from the fast-moving boat was a little chilly. It was also a long trip, so it was nice to have something to snack on to make sure I wouldn't get sea sick.

Eat

Vegetarian Poutine

Morgan Fischer

Vancouver is a cultural center. There are so many different people there from all over the world. The majority of the people I met there had accents because they were not originally from Canada.

That means the city is filled with every type of food you can think of. You can get anything from Thai to Italian to barbeque and everything in between. Look up different culture areas of the city and try new food in each one.

I also suggest trying Canadian food. Poutine especially. Poutine is simply french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds on it. There are even restaurants that just serve poutine, but spice it up with different toppings and such. The one I would always walk by was Mean Poutine that was located downtown. There was always a line out the door so it must be good!

Finally, Just Ask a Local

Vancouver residents obviously know the best things to do in the city. All the people I interacted with were extremely nice and helpful. I even had a waitress write down a whole list of places to go get the best cocktails around the city.

Do not be shy while you are there. Talk to your waitress or the person helping you at the store. Ask them about the city and see where they think you should go. You never know a hidden treasure you may find or an adventure you may experience because of their advice!

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