Last week, I gave you guys some insight about how I went from your everyday employee to full-time traveler, and how it all started with a small commitment to do one thing a week that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I asked you if you guys were up for trying the same thing, and you responded with a massive YES!
Now that we’ve established you’re ready to kick your life out of autopilot and say yes to adventure, it’s time to talk about what exactly that word means.
What exactly is adventure, anyways? Here is the official definition:
This definition leaves a lot up for interpretation. Many people agree that adventure has become an overused and even abused word, and I agree, to an extent. But I also think it’s a more inclusive term than some people want to admit.
When I first built this blog, I don’t think I was even sure of what adventure actually was. But after a few years of consideration (and heavy experimentation!) I’ve assembled my own list of seven truths that best define what adventure is all about.
The 7 Tenets of Adventure
#1: Adventure begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
This truth is the most important thing about adventure. Doing something unusual isn’t enough to qualify it as an adventure – it has to challenge you somehow. It needs to make you feel at least a little timid, unsure, or vulnerable.
This uncomfortable feeling is what holds most people back from trying adventurous things in their lives, and it’s not surprising. As adults, vulnerability can be terrifying. Most people avoid the unknown out of fear, staying where they know they’re comfortable.
While this may be the easier way to live, it’s also the best way to never do anything remarkable with your life. If you never challenge yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. On the other hand, Adventure can push your boundaries and broaden your horizons, if you let it.
#2: Adventure is relative.
If adventure starts on the edge of your comfort zone, then it’s a relative term. Everyone’s comfort zone is different. What’s considered adventurous to some people is everyday fodder for others.
For instance, to me, running a marathon seems like a crazy undertaking, but for some people, running 26.2 miles is just a casual morning jog. And I know people that find the idea of driving around town without navigating with their phone is too far outside of their comfort zone!
The reason this is important is people tend to think being adventurous means traveling across the world to trek through a jungle, eating nothing but bugs and sleeping on the ground. On the contrary – you can be adventurous while never leaving your hometown! You just have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, however big or small it is.
#3: Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes.
Because adventure is relative, then that means it can come in both big and small packages. Not every adventure is as big as crossing Antarctica on skis or digging through tombs for lost treasure in Egypt! Sometimes they can be as small as taking a walk in the woods by your house or signing up for a pottery class.
For you, it could be an adventure to try Ethiopian food, because you’ve never had it before and you have no idea what Ethiopian food even is. The idea makes you nervous, because what if you don’t like it? What if makes you sick? Trying it, therefore, is an adventure. For these people, on the other hand, their idea of an adventurous activity is greatly outside most people’s sphere of comfort!
If you want to be more adventurous, I recommend you start small. Begin by taking baby steps outside of your comfort zone. It may not seem like much at first, but even the littlest things can expand your perspective in a big way.
I’m living proof of this – my first adventure I wrote about on this blog was a trip to the local aquarium, where I mentioned my massive fear of sharks after seeing some toothy ones in a tank. It doesn’t get more tame than that! Two years later, I went diving with sharks in Belize. Without a cage. And I loved it.
#4: Adventure breeds more adventure.
Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll find that adventure is addictive!
The more you push your boundaries, the more open you are to new people, places, and activities you didn’t realize were even there before. By trying new things, you’ll expand your interests and knowledge, and you’ll find out you’re capable of more. Your tolerance for uncertainty will grow. Things that were out of your reach are suddenly attainable.
For me, this came in the form of long-term travel. It’s something I always dreamt of doing, but never imagined I’d have the means or guts to do so. The confidence I gained from my little solo adventures around LA gave me the courage to book my first solo trip to Asia in 2014. During those two months, I met other solo travelers that were working online from the road, something I never knew was possible. I realized I wanted to do the same, and the rest is history.
So start small, and you may end up discovering a big calling you didn’t know existed yet!
#5: Adventure is not always fun, and that’s okay.
I mentioned that adventure requires you to make yourself vulnerable. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a severely underrated skill, but it’s necessary if you’re going to live an extraordinary life. Putting yourself out there when you’re not sure what the outcome will be is the only way to grow and find out what you’re capable of.
But of course, being vulnerable means that you might fail, which can be scary. You may take a class in ballroom dancing, only to find that you really, really suck at ballroom dancing. You could try backcountry camping for the first time and end up getting horribly lost or trapped in a dangerous thunderstorm. You might start the business you’ve been talking about for years, only to see it crash and burn before the first year is over.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Failure and adventure go hand in hand, but that isn’t a bad thing. If you see each failure as an opportunity for growth, they become a lot easier to cope with and will help build you into a stronger, smarter version of you. (For more about how failure is a good thing, read this, this and this.)
#6: Adventure is good for you.
Adventure is oh-so-good for you. I’d actually argue it’s great for you. And there are so many reasons why!
To start, trying new and challenging things is not just fun, but it opens your eyes to fresh corners of the world you didn’t see before. You’ll be forced to think in different ways, building new neural pathways in your brain and heightening your self awareness. You get better at dealing with the challenges that life will inevitably throw at you. Consistently stepping out of your comfort zone builds confidence.
Depending on the adventure, there are other benefits too. If you start challenging yourself to a different hike every weekend, you’ll probably end up healthier and in better shape. In fact, taking a hike can lead to a bigger brain! By pursuing interests that you might have suppressed for years could lead to an awakening of creativity. And of course, by trying new things you’re bound to meet new people that have the same interests as you.
I could go on and on about the benefits of adventure, but I’m going to save them for a later post!
#7: Adventure is for everyone, and I mean everyone.
If you’re like I was, you’ve always admired the world’s great explorers from afar – you know, the people that are climbing the highest mountains, biking across deadly deserts, and diving to impossible depths. It’s so easy to look at these fearless adventurers and see them as superhuman, modern day versions of Lara Croft, Indiana Jones and James Bond.
You see them and think, “Wow! That’s amazing! I’d wish I could be like that!” Then you sigh and go back to eating your sesame bagel, knowing that will never be you.
Certainly, there are some amazing people out there doing absolutely incredible things that are worthy of admiration. But it so important to realize that adventure is NOT a limited resource, reserved only for explorers, adrenaline junkies, and millionaires. Being adventurous doesn’t mean being a part of an exclusive club that us everyday commoners aren’t allowed to be in.
There is enough adventure to go around for everyone, no matter who you are, where you’re from, what your circumstances are, or what you’re afraid of.
I truly believe this and it’s the reason I have this blog and share my adventures with all of you. I don’t want you to read them and say, “Cool! I wish I could do that!” then go back to your knitting. I want you to see it and think, “Hey, she’s a total wimp and she’s still out there doing cool things. Why can’t I?”
Whoever you are, you can benefit from sprinkling in adventure into your life. All it takes is the guts to get started, and to stick with it, even when things get difficult (as they inevitably will). And I want to help you get there!
What do you think of my 7 Tenets? Do you agree with my definition? Do you consider yourself an adventurous person?