“Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.” – Eudora Welty, novelist
I am super excited to share today’s interview with Rehna Yaseen with you all! Rehna is 27 a Youth and Community worker as well as a Outdoor Instructor, it doesn’t come more inspiring than that! So grab a coffee, curl up and see how Rehna fits walking and climbing into her life. You can also find her on Instagram at @outdoors_with_rehna
1. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?
My first walk which was terrible. It was a small training walk for our expedition to Morocco and it was my first ever hill walk ( I stress- tiny hill) My walking boots didn’t fit properly and gave me blisters which was just really horrible. I was truly out of my comfort zone. I just thought my Pakistani body wasn’t made for hiking, of course I was completely incorrect! Anyway, got to the top of the hill and threw my boots off and shouted at everyone (Okay I swore) and told people I was definitely not coming to Morocco and they could go without me! After some cajoling, I put my boots back on and stomped back down and rushed back to the car park. The next day I rang and asked ‘So, where are we going next?’, something clicked in my head and heart and that was that- my first ever experience in the outdoors.
2. What are three things on your bucket list?
Everest Base camp ( which I was supposed to do this year but Covid got in the way) . Some more big mountain adventures. Get as many qualifications as I can so I can take more people from my community out.
3. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration?
My female inspiration has to be my mother @sarahthesufi. From a women who had to go through an arranged marriage and whose childhood dreams had been crushed who then changed her life around completely- self taught musician , she just inspires me on so many levels and she is my biggest supporter.
4. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Self-confidence- I was always so harsh on myself that I was never good enough or I wasn’t able to do such and such a thing but really that just had a detrimental effect on my growth as a person. Having self belief and awareness is crucial.
5. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey?
Have fun and do not give up even if it gets tough. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people with more experience than yourself and ask if you tag along on their next walk. Also, I would say explore local. There are so many local green spaces and you would be surprised that so many people are unaware of them. Go and explore them!
6. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?
As mentioned above my hardest (but most memorable) walk was actually only up a small hill called Dovestones. This was my first ever walk and I was completely out of my comfort zone, wearing boots which didn’t quite fit properly. It just really pushed me past my limits at that time.
7. What is your favourite thing about the outdoor community?
I love many aspects of the outdoor world but my favourite has to be the amazing cafes and coffee shops run locally in the outdoor spaces- I’m a sucker for a brew and a scone!
8. Is there anything you would change about the outdoor community?
YES! Afraid so. There are many things I would change about the outdoor community but the one most important for me and the one i’m most passionate about is the diversity issue . When I barely see people like me on the hills, it really bothers me. Anyone who says that the outdoors doesn’t discriminate or that the countryside is accessible for all clearly hasn’t seen or heard anything from the perspective of any POC. There are just so many barriers that People of colour have to face on a daily basis never mind whilst trying to access the outdoors, so yes this would be the first thing I would change and to be honest I am doing so in the job.
9. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes what’s stopping you?
Water sports are an acclivity that I rarely get involved in. Besides a little amount of canoeing here are there I don’t do much at all and the biggest barrier for me is because I can’t swim (Shocking right?!) I didn’t really pursue any lessons further to what was part of the curriculum at Primary school so that has really gotten in the way of doing water sports and feeling comfortable to do so.
10. Has the outdoors impacted your mental health?
Yes, the outdoors has impacted my mental health massively. I have something to keep my mind active and occupied. It has provided a whole new coping mechanism for me and when i am on those hills no problem seems too big at all. I just forget about everything and it’s just wonderful!
11. What does a typical adventure day look like for you?
Generally a walk in the Peak District and when I’m doing a bigger walk usually North Wales climbing a mountain or 2..
12. Can you tell us about being a Youth & Community worker?
This is the best thing ever for me. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am a youth and community worker and I am able to merge my passion for the outdoors with my youth work. I know the impact that youth work had on my life at a time when I was pretty lost, didn’t have many aspirations and was just a little unhappy really- the youth club I attended as a teenager was the thing that gave me the exposure to the outdoors; weekly climbing clubs, camping, hiking and then an amazing expedition to Morocco to climb Mt Toubkal. Now fast forward 10 years, the fact that I am the lead youth worker and I am able to facilitate the best outdoor experiences for other young people just like me, makes me extremely proud and is a great privilege.
13. What made you chose to go into that job?
Above answer really. When the opportunity came up that I could help young people in a way in which i was helped all those years back and also was a chance to get out of a classroom setting (I worked in a school) I just couldn’t say no!
14. Can you tell us about being an outdoor instructor? How did you start? Would you recommend other women to do it?
I am still learning the ropes to being an outdoor instructor really. I have done my ML training and Climbing instructor training but Covid had gotten in the way- definitely looking forward to getting it complete. Other activities in the role of outdoor instructor are amazing though and again I feel so happy that an an Asian women I have this opportunity. Other women should definitely do it as it is so inspiring when you see a women doing things in a predominately male world.
15. What are your top three favourite outdoor brands?
Fave outdoor brands have to be Sprayway- No i am not biased just because I am a Sprayway ambassador, Mountain Equipment and Paramo.
16. Are you happy with their selection of women’s clothing?
I mean, I don’t think there is also that much choice when it comes to women’s clothing and sometimes sizes and length are a bit off but I can’t complain really.
17. How did you find lockdown? Did you discover new ways to have adventures?
Lock down was like a roller coaster for me, with ups and downs really. I was not used to spending so much time at home and not getting out as much as usual and that did have an effect on me, however I hadn’t been furloughed and was still working which meant I wasn’t wasting time and being unproductive. I quickly created an alternative service plan for young people which meant they were still having some input despite circumstances and that made me really happy to sill have a positive impact on them. I ate far too much though and have probably put 1 stone on since lock down which isn’t great haha.
18. Will your adventures changes after Covid-19?
I will definitely continue to explore locally even after lock down and carry on exploring the beauty just on my doorsteps.