DMG 101: Intro to Devin

Hey friends,

Devin here.

I’m back on Medium to write some stories about my outdoors adventures, share my insights, and maybe even learn something about myself in the process (he says pretentiously).

This is Round 2 of my Medium writing experiment. My first attempt was while I was still a bright-eyed, only slightly disillusioned, graduate student studying Cognitive Neural Science. The two stories that I wrote gathered an impressive 94 claps total. I thought my academic acumen would be enough to gain notoriety.

Alas, it was not.

So this time, I’m writing about my outdoors adventures.

This isn’t a Clif Bar ad, but it could be if you want *wink wink* Clif Bar & Company

Wait… another white guy writing about outdoors adventures? Unfortunately, yes. Will anything distinguish my writing from the others? Maybe.

Before I start jumping into some mild to moderately interesting stories, I want to give you a brief introduction to me.

As previously mentioned, I studied Cognitive Neural Science at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT. I spent nearly a decade, first obtaining my masters degree and then working on my Ph.D. I was going crazy. I started gaining weight. I used to think that a few drinks while writing was the key to making interesting academic manuscripts.

I was a shut-in.

Let me say that again, I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where there are mountains, deserts, and other incredible landscapes, and I was a shut-in. I liked the idea of being outdoorsy, but mostly admired it from the safety of my couch. And this led to problems…

Mostly mental health problems. I slowly slipped into depression. Not a quick switch from happy to depressed, but a gradual transition, unnoticeable.

Envision Elmo from Sesame Street gradually morphing into the graduate student version of Oscar the Grouch. That was me.

One failed relationship later, and I was at the bottom.

I love how dramatic some free photos can be. Shout out to Daniel Reche for hooking it up on Pexels.

Don’t worry, I fulfilled the stereotype. Relationship ended. Started exercising (lost 30lbs). Started therapy (gained happiness). Did some traveling (Puerto Rico was amazing). It was great.

But most importantly, what I found during my soul-searching period was the outdoors.

I started hiking, camping, and climbing and it was transformative.

Happy ending? TBD.

I ended up dropping out of my Ph.D. program. I wrote four dissertation proposals, presented two, and failed both. I was mentally unable to continue on.

I moved to San Diego, CA with my partner… right before the “Great Lockdown of 2020™” (Not sure if I can trademark that). I will say it was a great place to be during the lockdown. Warm enough to go outside during the winter, and most people took the pandemic seriously.

And I found a job. Which is great, because now I can start working on the backlog of soul-crushing student loan debt.

But, I guess, through all of this, my main takeaway is that anytime I’m feeling down, lost, or just need some adventure in my life, getting outdoors is the answer.

Near Campo, Ca. The southern terminus of the PCT

Need to disconnect from electronics? Bam! Go camping in the middle of nowhere.

Want to envision what the Price is Right would be like if it were combined with Squid Game rules? Pow! Go hiking (preferably somewhere without cliffs in case you are deep in thought).

Mental and physical health benefits aside, the beauty of nature is unmatched.

So, in a nutshell, that is me.

You have now completed DMG 101: Intro to Devin

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