A lot has happened in the last year. In the US, and elsewhere in the world, people are divided over topics ranging from the government’s role in environmental issues to human rights; the outdoor world was greeted with the sparkle of the high-heeled queen Pattie Gonia; many of my favorite outdoors communities on the internet made a showing at outdoor retailer; and life went on as usual. However, amidst all of this, you may have asked yourself, what happened to Get Your Ass Into Nature (GYAIN)? Or maybe more appropriately, why has my Instagram feed been so boring? Well, obviously I’ve got some explaining to do but at the end of this article, hopefully, you’ll feel a little bit better about the future of butts on the internet and you’ll sleep easy knowing that more are on the way.
What the hell happened to Get Your Ass Into Nature?
About a year ago (July 2018) I stopped posting altogether on the @GetYourAssIntoNature Instagram page. I had slowly been posting less and less on the page. I was getting choosier with what types of content I was sharing with the audience, I was working a job that required me to work long hours outside, I had just graduated from college, I had recently broken up with a long term girlfriend, I was feeling very overwhelmed, yadda yadda. Long story short, I stopped posting on the page almost exclusively for personal reasons. And many people have asked about it so we’re going to dive into a post that I probably should have written a year ago. Better late than never, I suppose.
A privileged, straight, educated, white guy from a wealthy town who has everything is opening up about his post-college awakening moment, I know what you’re thinking. Trust me, I hate sharing this just as much as you hate hearing it. But, every single one of my best friends has what seems like a weekly existential crisis regarding their life path. Plus, I have been encouraging thousands of people to be vulnerable in the name of leveling the playing field on the internet for the last 4 years. So sharing this information seems appropriate and important to my growth and the growth of this platform. I’m incredibly grateful for the people who have followed along over the years and the platform that I have to publicly share my own experiences. Thank you to those who are going to read the rest of this. Hopefully, it helps!
A focus on personal growth and my career
The desire to work on my career and grow personally was the single biggest reason that I stopped posting on the page. Get Your Ass Into Nature has always been run and managed by me, Aidan Weltner, and in 2018 I needed to shift my focus from the various jars I had my hands dipped in and take care of myself after a somewhat rough couple of years. As I said, I had just graduated college and I was working at a job that, in theory, was perfect for someone as passionate about the outdoors as me.
I was working along the banks of the Gallatin River, outside of Yellowstone National Park in Southwest Montana taking daily zipline tours. I was also freelancing as a web developer, videographer and photographer on the weekends and taking a number of fun camping and mountain biking trips with my friends. It was the perfect setup. I was outside all the time, I was stimulated and challenged by my freelance work, I was surrounded and supported by a great group of friends and family but I was still feeling overwhelmed and unconfident.
These feelings led me to conclude that I needed to focus on taking care of myself because although I was living what I would have considered the dream, real-life was right around the corner. So I decided to work on supporting myself financially with a career in web development/design. I started freelance developing full time in the late summer of 2018, started a digital marketing agency that I ran by myself later that fall and pretty much got my ass utterly kicked all fall and winter. I was beginning to pay off my student loans and I was not making nearly enough money to support my increasingly expensive life. Thankfully I had the privilege of two very supportive parents who also own their own businesses but to put it lightly, I learned a lot.
This was a very all-consuming process and I learned a lot about myself, how I work with others, how I treat others, how I want to be treated, and the importance of reflection. In case you’re wondering, over the last year I have gained a lot of stability, I am very proud of where I have come from and learned a lot of skills to help improve the GYAIN experience.
My intense feelings of imposter syndrome was the second biggest reason that I stopped posting on GYAIN. I’m not the free-spirited, wild, constantly-naked, confident person that seems to be the archetype of someone who would post a photo of themselves naked on the internet. I am pretty reserved and quiet. Although I love getting outside and I love being naked, I don’t do it all the time. In fact, I hardly ever just strip on an outdoor adventure. It’s mostly just for fun, in the right company. I’m not a nudist although I respect, understand and encourage that way of life. And frankly, all of that’s okay. But at the time when I stopped posting on the page, I didn’t really feel like it was very authentic or just of me to be sharing and preaching about a number of ideologies when I, myself, wasn’t 100% in on them.
What I realize now is that this is a community. Some members of this community subscribe to these ideas whole-heartedly and some only agree with them but do not necessarily practice them. And, again, that’s okay. The overarching idea is the same, everyone should experience these feelings that we get from getting outside, letting go, getting naked and having a meaningful experience doing it. But not everyone has to do that every day, or even every year. These experiences are powerful which is why they don’t need to happen all the time.
As for me, the person who is responsible for sharing the experiences of the people in this community, I don’t have to live with them every day either. I can see their power and I can still share them in the hope that they inspire others to take their own daring steps. That’s really the point. And my insecurities shouldn’t get in the way.
Time-consuming + Expensive
Another reason that I stopped posting is that doing so was incredibly time-consuming and oftentimes expensive. I paid for software to track and take the 1,000’s of submissions I received every month and I sorted through all those submissions by hand, one by one in order to weed out the best posts for the page. After three years of doing this pretty consistently, usually 2-3 posts per day, I was drained.
It also took an unexpected amount of energy managing a community and trying to make everyone feel included. Putting yourself out there in the way you do when you get your ass into nature is scary, and I wasn’t doing the best job of making everyone’s story and vulnerabilities heard because I was so overwhelmed. That compounded on itself and made it more time consuming to do what I wanted with the community and made it more overwhelming.
Increasing Pressure from Instagram
The increasing pressure from Instagram also had a greater contribution to my stress about the page. Instagram is on a mission to make the safest community on the internet, an admirable goal, but they’re doing so with a closed mind. Communities like Get Your Ass Into Nature, our friends at Get Naked Australia, inspirational artist Spencer Tunick, and many other body-positive figures around the globe are constantly violating the guidelines that Instagram puts in place to keep their platform safe.
The bottom line is that these guidelines are, in my opinion, very misguided, close-minded, and they oftentimes perpetuate the problems they are trying to address. I want to continue to fight the good fight and oppose the regulations that cause problems. However, doing so puts the ability for me to reach my audience at risk and if I have no audience I have no means of fighting this fight. GetYourAssIntoNature has been taken down about three times and I couldn’t stand the pressure of tip-toeing the line of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
What’s next for GYAIN?
Okay, so we’ve talked about why I left the page and stopped posting. But I said the page is back, so what’s next for Get Your Ass Into Nature? It’s been two years, so y’all can wait another week, right? Read what’s next in the next post.