by Tracy Seebach
I have always been afraid. Afraid to take chances, afraid to be laughed at, afraid to be bullied. These feelings have prevented me from trying new things.
I was born and raised in northern New Brunswick, Canada, the youngest of six children (three boys and three girls). We were surrounded by nature – trees, mountains and the beach in our backyard. I have always felt happiest in nature. My maternal grandfather was a farmer and a mine surveyor. My father and his father were miners. Nature is what gave us our livelihood, our adventures, and our connection to our family.
My ancestors arrived to Canada from Europe in the 1700s (a hundred years before Canada was its own county). My great, great grandfather donated land for our local Catholic Church and cemetery. My great-grandparents, their siblings and families all settled in surrounding communities. They were born, lived, and died in the same area. Why leave when you had everything you need?
When we were growing up, we never wandered very far. We would cut wood in the fall for the cold winter months and harvest the vegetables we grew. For fun, we would go ice skating on the local creek or on a backyard rink. There was also snowmobiling and snowshoeing. I still have the snowshoes my maternal grandfather made for all us kids. Our summer vacations would be camping in our backyard or being at the beach. We would always go to the woods on Thanksgiving, make a fire, “boil the kettle” (make tea in a large aluminum can which was heated over the fire), and eat turkey sandwiches. I can still smell the fire, hear it crackling, and hear the brook bubbling nearby. Even now when I go camping, a campfire brings me back to those simpler times.
When my oldest brother died when I was nine, my world fell apart. Overnight, our once whole family was shattered. His 19 years on earth were spent helping his grandfathers on their farms, helping my dad with our own garden, and working with the family doing chores. His death forced me to have to face things which a child should not have to. The veil of innocence was gone. I did not feel like other children my age as his death cast a dark shadow over my life. I always felt like I did not belong as I only had a few real friends. I was not part of the cliques or inner circles, but wanted to be. My self-confidence was low, and any time I was teased or bullied, I felt like I was not wanted or loved by anyone.
When I was 24, I moved to Southwestern Ontario, Canada. This was my chance to start fresh – new job, new people. My sister and brother had already moved there, but it was so hard to leave home. The local economy left few jobs and people my age had to start moving away for work. I hated to leave my parents. It was home and I had to leave it.
For eight years I existed. I didn’t really have any adventures. In 2006, I met a guy who wasn’t afraid to take chances and who loved to go camping and offroading with his two children. As I didn’t scare him off, he decided he wanted to marry me! He is my biggest fan and supporter. He believes in me even when I don’t think I can so something.
He is the one who introduced me to offroading and Jeeping. I was immediately drawn to the chance to be with nature. When my brother died, he was riding his motorcycle, enjoying his last few days before graduating high school. I did not understand why he loved riding, but my husband (who also rides) says it gives him freedom. When we are offroading, I feel that same freedom. Being in nature makes me think of my brother and I feel connected to him.
Through the Jeeping world and offroading, I have met many people; some who I consider friends, and those who I have eliminated as I do not need their negativity.
Over the years, things have slowly started to change. When I was brave enough to try an obstacle course with others watching, I was still a scared little girl. After I finished it, no one was laughing or mocking me. Instead, I was getting “thumbs up” from people I don’t know. This made me a bit braver. Maybe I can do this. Maybe I can do trails and try new things without being so afraid. The Jeeping community has shown me I do not have to be afraid, or risk being laughed at. Everyone was a newbie at one time. Everyone has made mistakes. Learning from those mistakes is what makes a person stronger.
And I am stronger.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas