Today, in the age of curated Instagram feeds, live videos, real-time exchanges, and publicized experiences, it’s easy to feel like your life is wedged somewhere between boring and “not enough”, like your experiences are inadequate to the experiences of those you see online.
This sometimes leaves me feeling like my life isn’t enough. That maybe I don’t like my safe office job, or my suburban apartment, or my sensible 401k contribution…perhaps there’s something better. This perception leaves me yearning instead of feeling gratitude for all the jagged puzzle pieces that make up my messy, less-than-perfect life.
Social media can feed the idea that an “adventure” has to fit inside a one-size-fits-all box. It has to in a distant place, somewhere photographable, something extreme, something enviable. It’s a dangerous prescription for heightening that feeling of “not enough.” It’s creating a divide. It’s fostering disconnect. It’s making people feel like they don’t belong…like their everyday life isn’t adventure enough.
I’ve met some of the most impassioned people with an amazing appetite for life, who can likely never afford to leave their own country. Adventurous souls with their faces cocked towards the sun, glowing and vibrant, in the midst of the greatest adventure…who will never get on a plane, never have their passport stamped, never take those “insta-worthy” photos. What about them? Are their subtle adventures written between the lines of those group tours or bucket-list place less than others’?
It can look like everyone on social media is on a grand adventure and you’re missing out. But I’m here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case. And maybe you’re feeling like me—stuck between a life of adventure and the familiar comfort of your routine—so I came up with some reasons you don’t have to be a professional adventurer to live an adventurous life. And I challenge you, as you read this, to figure out what “adventure” truly means to you…then do more of that.
What does the word “adventure” mean to you? Are you looking at it in a way that is conducive to driving passion and excitement in your life? Can a simple trip to the store or walk with dogs be your type of adventure? Can you mold a boring trip to Home Depot into some Type 2 fun? Adventure means different things to different people. Don’t let someone else’s definition shape yours.
Shake the Expectations
So you’re not “Insta-famous”. You aren’t jetsetting every weekend to new places and sharing your experiences with a massive fan base. So what? My travels—usually on weekends or while taking PTO—are always for leisure, always for fun. I’m off the clock. My phone can be turned off, my brain can be turned off. I don’t have a company or brand expecting me to be taking live videos of myself eating fancy breakfast or real-time updates of my trek up a mountain. I don’t need to take specific product photos or wear certain things. I can truly unplug without repercussion. I can hide from the world for a bit and live outside expectations.
Keep it Personal
I like social media, I really do…sometimes maybe a little too much. And when I feel overwhelmed by the expectations of the platform, I take a step back. I take a week or a month off. I hide…and no one notices. I’m not losing money or my livelihood. I’m not disappointing an eager fan base. I’m truly able to operate on the assumption that no one wants to see or needs to see what I’m doing…and that feeling is truly liberating. While I love sharing my adventures, I also like keeping my personal life to myself. I strive to respect the time spent with my loved ones and not put a cyber wall between us…it’s always a work in progress.
Plan it Out
When I want to do something, I plan like hell to make it happen. I pack ahead of time so that when Friday afternoon rolls around, I’m ready to drive to the mountains or head out on an early-morning hike. I’ve coordinated a free place to stay, have my tent, booked a seedy motel, or plan to sleep in the back of my car. I’m ready to sit in the car through the night, kept only awake by the blaring of the stereo and the hum of the engine. I’m ready to sacrifice nights out on the town or spending time with friends to escape and do what I love. Sometimes I drive through Sunday night and show up to work on Monday smelling like bonfire, face weathered by wind, hair tousled into a large nest, and functioning on little sleep. But it’s all worth it to me.
You don’t need to have a Frequent Flyer card to explore. Frankly, I hate flying. I’d much rather drive long hours than hop on a plane. Sure, it takes a fraction of the time, but imagine the many misadventures, dirt roads, and unexplored terrain to be found along the open road close to home. Talk to people who have lived in your area for a long time, hone in on the secret spots, go there…but keep them sacred, keep them safe. One of my favorite adventures is a scraggly hill 20 minutes from my house. At first glance, the mountain itself leaves much to be desired, but from the top, you can practically see the ends of the earth.
Embrace the Microadventure
Anything can be an adventure with the right mindset. Sleep in your backyard and roast s’mores over a grill. Take your kids to the beach or local park. Walk through your favorite part of the city blaring your favorite song. Ride bikes to the store, read a novel on the patio, learn an instrument, hang out with your dog. Take a moment to teach kids about wild things. About trees and bugs and plants and rivers. About slowing down and seeing the world unfold. See tiny moments through their eyes. Don’t convince yourself that you can buy or find the time to plan a grand adventure later on…make little ones happen right now.
Find Cheaper Ways to Explore
Growing up, like many families out there, my parents couldn’t always afford to take us on big adventures or long vacations, and when we did take vacations, we drove long hours to avoid paying airline ticket fees for a whole family. Some of my favorite memories are piling into a tiny car with my brothers and going “garage-sale-ing” or my mom rolling down the back window of her old Toyota 4Runner and doing donuts through a dirt field while we screamed with glee in the back seat. We rented or borrowed kayaks, shared fishing poles, made lunches, turned the backyard into a campground. When it rained we pulled each other on foam boogie boards through ditches filled with dirty rainwater. We weren’t rich…but don’t tell us that.
Do it For You
I started this blog as a way to chronicle my adventures so that one day I can look back and remember all the things I loved. Sure, if it resonates with someone or makes just one person say “I needed to hear that”…I feel amazing. But at the end of the day, I want it to be for me because it’s coming from me. I can be my disheveled, inappropriate, foul-mouthed, mismatched, dorky self and not worry about what people will think. I don’t have to censor my writing or worry about showing too much vulnerability in a post. I can be me. And share whatever in that moment makes me feel alive.
Believe Your Adventure is Enough
Because it is. I know many people who have never been out of their country. People who make everyday adventures and surrounding themselves with their passions a fervent priority. People who are content with the perceived “normalcy” of their life and want nothing more than to play solitaire by the fire with their dog. People who are up at the crack of dawn to paint or run or hike or swim before their day jobs being nurses, waitresses, lawyers, store clerks, software developers. The point is to fight the urge to compare. Fight the urge to think your world is less because maybe it doesn’t look good on a square screen in the middle of cyberspace. You don’t need the right gear, the right outfit, the right place for an adventure…you just need a little elbow grease and a lot of imagination.
And lastly, share your adventures with someone who needs it. Encourage folks to take their own. Make the world a more inclusive place.