Ezgi Ulger STEP Project

My STEP project revolved around growing professionally and academically. This was done by upholding a voluntary research position in the summer and partaking in a three-day backpacking trip led through the Ohio State Adventure Center.
I grew a lot from my experiences of researching and backpacking. My research position consisted of a lot of recruitment. I was able to practice my marketing skills and the important skill of being rejected. Every time I approached another individual, I was stepping outside of my comfort zone. Another way that I stepped outside of my comfort zone was during the backpacking trip. I had never gone backpacking before. Through this experience I practiced “leaving no trace” on the trail, and I gained a deeper understanding of what it means to take care of the Earth. I learned that I love the outdoors and adventuring. This trip was a reminder of how I want to live: always spreading my horizons.
Some of the interactions during my time recruiting that helped transform me were my interactions with my partner. Her and I would go to COSI and recruit families. I accepted my research position very anxiously knowing that I struggled with recruitment. By watching her approach families with so much ease, I was able to gain a better perspective on the potential of being rejected. She helped me view recruitment as a feasible skill.
Another event that changed my mindset on the outdoors was on day 2 of my backpacking trip. On this day, it down poured. This caused the entire trail to be immensely muddy and wet. There were puddles inside of our shoes and our feet remained soggy for the rest of the trip. This however was my favorite part of the trip. I loved being dirty. When I gave up on trying to keep my feet dry and my clothes clean, I was able to fully embrace how soaked I was in nature. I told myself that I couldn’t get any muddier than I was, and this enabled me to be fulfilled by my conditions. Overall, this specific instance taught me that I can find comfort in discomfort by fully embracing a situation for what it is.
The backpacking trip also reminded me of how I want to live. One of my trip leaders was a middle-aged man who had a big role at the OAC. He had such a big heart and offered so much positivity. I was inspired by how he presented himself. He was an experienced backpacker, but he stayed in the back of the line and hung out with the people towards the end of the line. He always made funny comments about how his feet were so dry as he was putting on wet socks and shoes. He in an embodiment of someone who doesn’t settle with life. I admire how he prioritizes adventuring and doing what he loves.
These changes have been very important for my life because they have made me realize that I never want to stop growing as a person. I want to continue striving to better myself and what I can offer to other people. Most importantly, I don’t want to let anything stop me from living. College has been academically very challenging for me, but these experiences have made me realize that embracing every moment cannot be placed to the side until school ends. I created a bucket list for this semester in order to motivate me to continue expanding my horizons during this stressful year.

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