Is This Real? Carolyn Tallman

Carolyn 1

All too often I hear these words uttered by friends, family, and strangers. Here at High Trails, we lead an interesting and unique lifestyle. We laugh until our stomachs hurt, live and work in the mountains, dress in outrageous costumes at work, sing while cleaning the toilets, find things other than television to occupy our time, and get the chance to go on a new adventure every weekend.

In many cases, our job is more fun and gratifying than most others, yet many of us are constantly on the hunt for one of those “real ” jobs.

What is a “real” job anyway?

Is it one of those things that your best friend hates and is always complaining about when you talk to her? Is it what your parents whine about at the dinner table? If this is what a “real” job is all about, then why does everyone want one?

carolyn-compostOver the past few months, I’ve heard many people talk about finding a “real” job and discussing how our job is not an accurate depiction of the “real” world. I guess it all depends on your definition of the word “real.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, “real” means, not artificial, genuine, not imaginary. Last time I checked, we work with real people, get paid real money, and teach real children, so I’m pretty sure that our job does exist.

We may not have the benefits of a corporate job, like a 401K or a $50,000+ per year salary, but working at High Trails has other benefits. We get to work with people with similar interests, walk to work, act ridiculous, play capture the flag, and watch movies on company time.

Why can’t a “real” job be defined by something that you look forward to? If I’ve learned anything from working at High Trails, it is that you should enjoy what you’re doing.

All too often I’ve seen friends fall into a rut because they accepted a position at a corporate office doing something that they don’t think is worth their time or energy. They eventually become miserable and search for a way out.

I’m not by any means suggesting that everyone quit their job and become an environmental educator. All I’m saying is that everyone should find a job that makes them happy. It’s hard enough to come across a job that you actually enjoy, so if you find one, stick with it.

IMG_3545We’ve all heard the familiar saying, “It’s not a job if it makes you happy.” During my time here at High Trails I’ve found myself to be the happiest I’ve ever been. So, I think I’ll listen to my own advice and stick around here for another year. I’m in absolutely no rush to see what all the hype is about this “real” world.


At High Trails Outdoor Science School, we literally force our instructors to write about elementary outdoor education, teaching outside, learning outside, our dirty classroom (the forest…gosh), environmental science, outdoor science, and all other tree hugging student and kid loving things that keep us engaged, passionate, driven, loving our job, digging our life, and spreading the word to anyone whose attention we can hold for long enough to actually make it through reading this entire sentence. Whew….

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