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Student Series: That Girl, She Is Going To Move Mountains    

Student Series: That Girl, She Is Going To Move Mountains

Art by FISK

By Olivia Zaban

I believe traveling is one of the best opportunities to see outside yourself. I have been lucky enough to travel the world, but when I think about the travel that has impacted me the most, I can only think of a little cabin in the state of Idaho. Before I was born, my Mom and Dad decided to look at a small plot of land in Victor Idaho, a town so small it didn’t even have a traffic light. My Dad made the final call, and claimed: “if my kids are going to grow up on flat Chicago land, they will also grow up in the altitude”. His determination paid off, as I have watched a modern town rise around this small cabin, and I have learned the most important life lessons in the mountains. 

I learned how to snowboard when I was about six years old, my Dad realized skis didn’t make sense to me. I felt out of control and didn’t like to go very fast down the hill. He claimed, “if I can do it, you can do it.” He was completely right, except for one nagging fear that would run through my head at all times. 

Don’t fall off the edge.

It didn’t matter if I was on skis, a snowboard, or on my own two feet, I had this irrational fear that I would drift toward the edge and fall off. The most ironic part of it all was that I was completely in control of my own motions. If I looked toward the edge, my board was going to face that way, and obviously, I was going to drift toward the edge. It is the same with the trees, if you look at the tree… you’re simply going to crash into the tree. I scared myself until I cried, to which my Dad would sigh and say, “you are in complete control, calm down this is supposed to be fun!” Like most times I am going to mention my Dad in this story, he is right. Eventually, I began to look straight ahead, at all the open snow that I could shred through. I began to go faster, trust my back to the slope on a toe turn, and know I controlled where I went. My life is a constant roller coaster being a student-athlete, and anyone’s twenties can just feel like skiing through a million trees by yourself. Leaving, I took with me that I am in control of where I want to go. 

A few summers after that, I was in middle school. Any girl can attest that middle school may have been the most complicated days of their lives. Trying to fit in, find friends, create an unbreakable group, only to just be broken by those who rose to the top. While I can look back now, and know it only made me stronger, that August trip was filled with constant phone checking, and just trying to stay in touch with girls that obviously did not want to text me back. My Dad and I decided we were going to hike Jackson Mountain, seven miles straight up. My mom gently suggested I leave my iPhone 3 at home, so I could just have fun with my Dad. This meant: “They aren’t going to text you back, so please stop trying so hard it’s making me sad for you”. Four miles into the hike, my Dad turned around to see me with my head down, and tears in my eyes. He stopped, and pulled a Reese’s cup out of his bag, and sat me down on a rock. He gave me advice that has stuck with me to this day, ending with; “If you can hike seven miles in seventh grade, you can handle any girl that comes your way. I know this hike seems long now, but when you get to the top, you are going to feel so accomplished. Same with life Liv.” Leaving that trip, I learned I cannot look for others for satisfaction, I need to know I am enough for myself. 

Flashing to the Covid19 pandemic, I was sitting in my house, home from college, my lacrosse season ended. I was anxious, upset, and felt as though I was missing a purpose (as most everyone was). I turned to controlling everything I put into my body, writing down lists of the food I ate each day. I worried constantly about my body, and it consumed my life for a few months. Covid19 made me believe that I would not be able to leave my own bubble and that made me more anxious than I had ever been before. My parents did not understand why I was operating like this, and neither did I. Along with the forced isolation, I isolated myself even more. Once I was able to start seeing see my friends at home again, I refrained. I worried I would eat something to derail my carefully constructed plan, my new purpose. In the middle of June, my family suggested I take a few of my teammates out to our house because we had not been out there due to busy schedules. I was excited, but worried about the trip in the weeks leading up What if I gained weight? What if I got out of shape? What if they all looked better than me? The shallowest thought anyone could think most likely crossed my brain. Flashing to the end of that trip, I can say that was my turning point in my mental health. Getting out (safely with the pandemic), and being with these girls I am going to spend the next four years with showed me I deserve to focus on more than just how I look. I deserve to have fun, work hard, and love myself and my friends, especially because it can be taken away at any second. 

A place can shape a person, but the person has to let that place do its work. This small cabin in Idaho is not only my family and my escape, but a way to see the bigger picture. Staring up at the mountains shows me I am small, but step by step I can still conquer whatever large task lies in front of me. 

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