Colin is an introvert. He listens more than he talks and smiles a lot. We met him during his sea kayak tour in Nova Scotia. Colin was our guide and more than happy to show us around. After chatting for a bit he asked about Searching for Sero. When we explained, he smiled and nodded in the same way people do when they truly understand the project. Sure enough, Colin sent us an email about wanting to tell us his story, and how he thought Sero saved him. We were lucky to still be around to meet up again and convince him to tell us a little more. We’re pretty glad he did.
Colin grew up in Ottawa — turns out we even have a few friends in common! While in middle school, he got a BMX and made the most out of life in the city.
“I used to ride everyday at the skate park. If I wasn’t home, I was at the skate park. I liked the freedom of the sport. You didn’t have to follow any rules. I really liked that. I was always into doing weird tricks, not necessarily huge, just different. I liked the creative side of things.”
When he moved to Nova Scotia to continue school, he brought his bike and his stoke along. He even started a local TFA BMX Club like they had in Ottawa, involving some of the younger guys from the skate park. He enjoyed riding for a while but with University and competing priorities, Colin fell away from it.
“I started sliding away from going out as much as I used to. I replaced it with a lot of drinking. The party atmosphere, I got sucked into it. Between being drunk, hung over and studying, it was hard to find time to ride. My riding suffered from that.”
It all took it’s toll on him. Colin was unhappy and drinking away his sorrows, uncertain of how to turn his life around and getting sucked deeper and deeper into the whirlwind of depression.
“I was in an absolutely awful place mentally. I often contemplated suicide. It was like this horrible little voice that always seemed to be loud enough to drown out all the other things like “Your family and friends love you”, “You have so many adventures ahead of you” or “You’re about to graduate from university”. Even though part of me knew about all the good stuff all my brain wanted to do is focus on the stuff that was bringing me down.”
Colin’s saving grace came from an unexpected place. As part of his undergrad, he had the opportunity to take outdoor activity labs as part of his electives. The first one was an Outdoor Leadership Course that had an in class portion and a ten day in the field portion. He came out changed. Ten days spent in the wilderness, no alcohol, no smoking, focused on living felt so good, he had to have more. The same professor, Scott, was also offering different skills course, road biking, canoeing, kayaking, and Colin wanted to do them all.
“I’m not sure exactly why kayaking stood out. I think I was progressing at a faster rate and enjoying it. It was that course that got me into it. We did all sorts of crazy rescues, eventually, we got on to rolling. I felt all of a sudden like I needed to learn this, I needed to figure this out. And then anytime I could get in a boat, I would get in a boat. Kayaking has pushed me out of my comfort zone. It made me realize I can still learn new stuff.”
As a means to spend more time on the water, Colin got a sea kayak guiding job. The end of a romantic relationship was probably when he hit his rock bottom emotionally but the skills and confidence he had built over the past couple of months paid off and he managed to make the changes he needed in his life.
“Coming up from that, I knew something needed to change. At the same time I had been working with professor Scott who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke. He’s healthy and active. He’s sixty something years old and able to do all this stuff everyday. I think having him as a role model I felt it was the direction I should be going.”
Colin has been sober for almost two years and feeling much better about life. He claims kayaking, this positive lifestyle and the support of his current girlfriend are responsible for this life change.
“It was the enjoyment and feeling I got from these outdoor activities that helped me turn my life around. I was finding my Sero and it was having such an amazing effect.”
After graduating from Recreation Management, Colin decided to keep pursuing his education. He is currently going after a Masters in Education and hopes to be able to find ways to share his love for the outdoors through guiding, instructing and teaching. One thing is for sure: he is not done with kayaking and the outdoors.
“After almost two years of being sober, searching for adventures, sharing adventures, trying to squeeze the most out of those adventures, I have come to see how beneficial this is to overall health and wellness; it’s amazing. So never stop searching for Sero!”