I love adventures. I love reading adventure blogs. I love watching tv shows and films about travelling and expeditions. I follow people on social media that are #LivingTheirBestLives. Image after image of amazing people experiencing things that I can only dream of. ‘I’d love to go on an adventure,’ I say to anyone that will listen, feeling envious and excited all at the same time. Often however, something holds me back. I lack confidence and I feel inadequate. It feels like these people are all so much more experienced and better than me.
I recently had an online conversation with a female adventurer who had written a social media post on people lacking confidence to go on adventures. I asked them, “As someone who has no confidence, can you tell me the secret?” Their reply, “I honestly think that part of the secret is that there is no secret. You may not feel confident, but you do it anyway.” This is not the first time I’ve heard this advice, and whilst I appreciate that there is some element of truth in this after all, every adventure starts with a single step, I still felt disappointed and frustrated with their answer. I want to get out there, but something just stops me.
I decided to explore the barriers behind my lack of confidence when it comes to adventures, and what exactly it is that stops me. I discovered there are 6 excuses I always tell myself, so I’ve broken them down and turned them on their head with an alternative thought, which I’m now sharing with you.
1- “My adventure’s not good enough” becomes “Anything is an adventure, not matter how small.”
It is easy to think that an adventure has to be something BIG. Backpacking around the world, climbing Mount Everest, sailing the Atlantic Ocean- these are all crazy big adventures that someone out there is doing, but it’s just not achievable for me right now.
You, like me, may have a job, bills to pay, family ties, it just isn’t realistic to drop all our responsibilities to go and herd some goats with a remote Mongolian tribe. That’s not to say that one day we wont be able to do that, we should all be able to follow our dreams, but how can we get out there and experience the excitement we yearn for if we can’t get on that yacht or follow that Sherpa? Well, I say that we need to lower the expectations we set for ourselves a little.
An adventure is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as:
“An unusual, exciting, and possibly dangerous activity, such as a trip or experience, or the excitement produced by such an activity.”
The key words I take from this definition are experience and excitement. So, any experience that brings excitement, can be an adventure. It could be walking the Camino Di Santiago, or walking in a local park, it just has to get you outdoors and make you happy.
Your adventure is good enough, no matter how small it may be.
2- “I’m not fit enough” becomes “I can have fun within my fitness levels”
I am overweight and far from peak fitness, as such I often say no to taking part in sports activities with others.
I am also not the worlds greatest swimmer, so the thought of swimming in the sea with rip tides, unknown depths and jellyfish absolutely petrifies me, but I can manage a slow moving stream that I can stand up in, or even just an outdoor pool. I also grew up in the flat Fenlands of England and I am convinced I’m hill intolerant, so perhaps ascending Ben Nevis on a weekend isn’t going to happen for me, but I can factor in a small tor on Dartmoor, or if I’m feeling really sluggish, perhaps just walk up a hill near my house known for its incredible views.
Many outdoor activities require super fitness levels, but some of them just require you to get outside and move, even at a snails pace. Don’t be put off by those adventures where you do need to be a near olympian, you just need to make the activity work for you. When you go to a fitness class the instructor leading the session will provide two ways to do an exercise to encompass all fitness levels, adventures should be seen the same way, with no shame or stigma.
There are many reasons why our fitness levels may hold us back, from postpartum to a long term health condition, but it doesn’t mean it has to stop you. You just need to find the activity level that works for you, you might even find the more you do, the fitter you become, the bigger the adventure you can take on!
3- “I can’t do this by myself” becomes “I can do this alone”
Amelia Earhart, Cassie DePecol, Michelle Jana Chan, Juliana Buhring, Cheryl Strayed, Nellie Bly, Ellen MacArthur- there are so many inspirational solo woman adventurers. If they can achieve what they have done by themselves, then I can surely manage to beat my anxiety and take that trip alone, right? Why are we so scared to take those steps without a friend in tow?
Safety is paramount, and some adventures require a buddy. Even if you’re just going for a walk it is best practise to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Sometimes though, there just isn’t anyone available to go with you, and (so long as it’s safe), that should never be a reason not do something.
It can be hard to see others out and about adventuring in groups when you have no one, but a wise friend once said to me, “you would have more friends if the universe allowed you to have them at that time…timing is everything,” Maybe you don’t have people to go with yet, but trust you’ll meet your tribe once you start, you just have to go, even if you’re going it alone.
4- ”I don’t have enough money” becomes “The best things in life are free”
They say that money makes the world goes round, and big adventures often mean big expenses. I don’t know anything about fundraising or sponsorship, but I do know that the best things in life are free.
The following things (with the exception of travel costs, food and basic kit like a pair of trainers) are all free: the feeling of cold water on your skin whilst you swim in a river, waking up surrounded by nature after wild camping, enjoying the view after hiking to the top of a hill/ Tor/ mountain, sand between your toes at the beach, the sun on your face whilst you stop for a drink on your trail walk, running in the rain of an unexpected shower, listening to bird song- the list goes on!
Wherever you live I am sure that there is somewhere you can go that enables you to get out in nature and enjoy the fresh air, without jumping on a plane or spending a fortune on expensive brands.
Don’t be fooled into thinking going on adventures is a rich persons game, there is an adventure to suit anyone’s budget.
5- “I don’t have enough time” becomes “I can use the time I’ve got”
In my normal day job when I’m not writing, I work shifts as a nurse in a local hospital. It’s pretty exhausting, and whilst I don’t have children, I empathise with my colleagues that do. If you also work full time and are juggling family life, how do you possibly satisfy your life goals of volunteering on a horse ranch in South America or swimming with sharks?
As I said above, there is no reason to put this dream in a box and forget about it. You can always research your ideal trip, collect pictures and put them on your walls, read every article you can on the subject. You may not have time now, but maybe in the future you will.
Now though, when you may not even have the time to go the toilet in peace let alone hike the Appalachian Trail, think about what you can do with your time to satisfy your adventure needs.
I have a friend who makes sure every Thursday her husband has the kids so that she can go to her local kayak group and get out on the sea. It’s her time to get outside and have some space and excitement for herself. I personally have written a list of ‘day off’ adventures, so that even if I am tired after a week of crazy shifts, I can just look at this list and find something small that gets me out the house in the time off I have- from having a picnic on the beach to going stargazing one evening. It’s not the time you don’t have, its about being smart with the time you do.
6- “There’s too much to plan” becomes “Start small and simple”
The military work on the 6 Ps: Proper Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance. If you are planning a military operation, I can imagine that you have to up your game and leave no room for error, to save lives and guarantee success.
Sometimes though, you might just be planning to go for a local riverside walk. It’s a small adventure, its going to be moderately flat and therefore easy, you can go by yourself and it probably wont cost a lot of money depending on how far you have to travel. It’s a walk you can do on a day off and depending on how far you want to go it could just take a morning or an afternoon. Petrol, comfortable walking shoes, water bottle, snack, you wont even need a map, you can just walk along the river and back again. There, thats it. No military operation, no special kit.
In addition, spontaneity can provide the best adventures- those days where you just jump on your bike and see where you end up. Again, theres a small amount of planning involved- is my bicycle road worthy,? Where did I leave my helmet? But in comparison to cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, it shouldn’t take too long to organise your time before you’re out and about cycling your favourite route.
Start small and simple, but start.
I hope that my reflections and advice help you to realise that its not always about just, ‘doing it anyway.’ The reasons for not finding the courage to go on that adventure are not always so straight forward.
Please take my advice, and if you get a moment to think about whats truly stopping you from going on that adventure, I hope you can find a way around it. I certainly have no excuses now!