In October I will be going on a one-two month-long safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I have visited Africa several times now for my photography expedition, but they usually only lasted between 1-2 weeks. Now I am ready for something bigger. I am incredibly excited, but part of me is also very nervous. One month of getting up at 4.30 am every morning, being on safari for about 11-12 hours a day can be very tiring and intimidating. But it is what I love, and I am more than excited about this adventure. Every day being out with these amazing animals, taking pictures, and sharing them with the world, what an absolute dream!
I have met so many amazing people through my photography: guides, other photographers, and even scientists. We all have the same passion; protecting these beautiful animals and sharing their beauty with the world to conserve them for many more generations to see.
I believe animals can teach us so much and they can help people. For me, I am just happy when I am among wildlife, all my stress is gone and I just feel relaxed. Doing my photography has helped me a lot through hard times, and it never fails to make me happy. Getting feedback from people who admire your work is so motivating and it makes you proud to have come where you are now.
It forced me to really think about what i was feeling,
and to sit inside my heart
so that my hard wired head could stop
and i became content to be in my own space
content to sit within myself as I moved.
content to just watch as the world changed around me
merely maneuvering my truck from idea to idea
it forced me to process things by writing them
but it also gave me the space to think things through in conversations on the phone
but that depended entirely on cell service
in half motion
you latch on to these moments, these images, as they race in your head, as they take tight turns, as a force like gravity pulls and pulls you away. you find yourself empty save the quiet conversations and the warm silence. the moments that make you you. but how ‘bout I move them?
About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.
During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.
I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back.
The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.
Five more weeks. Only five more weeks and one of the biggest chapters of my life will come to an end. I came to America 3 years ago, planning on only staying for half a year. And now here I am, three years later. These have been the best three years of my life. I will miss this place more than I can explain. All the memories and people. It is hard leaving it behind. But I know that I will always be connected to this place and to the people. I know I will return, and I have made friendships for life here.
Even though I am very sad to leave, I am also excited to see what the future will hold. I have so many plans and trips coming up that I can hardly wait for. I am taking a gap year in which I will be in a different country every month doing my wildlife photography. I am going on a 1-month backpacking trip in Montana and I have so many more plans, and then college. I couldn’t be happier with my college decision. I will be attending Montana State University. The location is absolutely beautiful, they have amazing programs, and their outdoor program is everything I was looking for in a college. The Yellowstone ecosystem is just 30 minutes away from campus and there are awesome ski resorts nearby.
I am incredibly sad to leave Highschool but I will never forget the people and memories I have made here. Thank you for the best three years of my life.
frantically searching for a place to get in the water
and even as the sun dipped under the saddles I sped through
I could feel I could find it
and I did
I changed quickly and jogged past multiple signs which thoughtfully informed that this area was the elephant seal’s area not the humans area, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and it was not very bright so I only saw them as I was leaving
but I saw surfers in the water and the break looked nice enough so I ran through the grass towards the beach 100 yards off
where the grass stopped the seals started
some small but others enormous
big black bodies
and the screaming
but nothing could pierce the orange and purple sky
I darted through a maze of them
(entirely honestly I don’t know where the courage to do this came from)
I sprinted the last 20 feet to the water, threw my board down and paddled hard past the break to arrive at the silent surfers
I was a mess of limbs and heavy breathing but their boards just made small sounds when they breached the swaying surface and i settled into the salt and the sea
it was a pitchy little close out but occasionally the ocean would toss in this fast pulling right that could pick you up at the rocky point and deposit you on the other side of the cove in just seconds, forcing you to take a deep breath while you paddle back past the seals and the sand
I told this guy that I had been looking to get in the water before sunset and I thanked him for sharing his spot with me
“I’ve come here every day for a couple weeks hoping this spot would be breaking”
“oh yeah?” I said, moving closer by kicking underneath my board
“It opens up only a couple times a year, it needs just the right swell direction, if the waves are too big it washes out, and if it’s too small it doesn’t break, oh and the wind blows it out almost every day on top of that.”
A wave came and he tore off down the line
I watched the sun set from the water
splashed the cold water on my face.
And When i got back to the car I wrote
I wrote for him,
To her we are all just bodies
Blubbery and black
She pulls and pulls
The heat from our soles
But occasionally she opens up
And gives back
as he got in his truck I ripped out the page in my journal and handed it to him
Do you know this feeling, when your heart drops and it feels like someone just dug a knife through it. That feeling that shivers down your spine and makes the hair on your arms crawl up. You’re pumped with adrenaline. Your heart is beating out your chest. And then, just silence. You don’t know what you feel anymore, it’s too much. Tears start rolling down your face. Your breath gets faster and faster.
Thinking about it, emotions are a fascinating and scary thing. One moment they make you feel like you are on top of the world, the next they crush you down to the floor. But I am not saying that that’s a bad thing. They help us learn, they help us communicate with other people without using words. People can connect, solely through their emotions. It helps us understand each other more.
For the longest time, I tried to suppress my emotions. I feel weak showing my flaws and I don’t want people to see me cry. It is still something I am struggling with to this day. But I have found ways to deal with it by myself. Running, singing, playing tennis, are all things that help me burn off stress. But camping is probably the thing that has helped me most throughout my life.
When I am outside camping with friends, I just forget all my worries for a while. Everything is ok and I just feel free and relaxed. Its like I’m in a completely different state of mind, like bad things can’t even get close to me. And at night when I look up at the stars, I just feel thankful for the life I have. How lucky I am to have such great friends and memories of traveling around the planet. How supportive my family is, and how excited I am for my future.
Feelings are a important part of who we are as a person. They define us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. even though I still struggle, I know there are people out there who care for me and who support me in anything I do.