It’s strange to think that 2 years ago I didn’t even realise there was an adventure scene. A growing community of people wanting more adventurer in their life. I probably wouldn’t have believed it if you had said there were even individuals who were earning a living from going on expeditions and sharing it with others.
And yet here I am. Doing just that.
March 2016 I went to my first adventure event, Night of Adventure put together by the well known UK adventurer, Alistair Humphries. I had already decided before that point that I was going to hike the full length of Israel, but this event opened my eyes to other opportunities. I studied the speakers and their websites with fascination and admiration. I so wanted to be like them! To have a blog that I could write my ideas on and to one day entertain an audience with my tales.
It was not an easy transition
Before 2016 my outdoor experience was minimal. I grew up in a family that didn’t do outdoorsy things and went to a comprehensive school that didn’t offer these sort of extra curriculum activities. It just wasn’t a ‘thing’ where I grew up. I didn’t know anyone who went on hiking trips with their parents to the Lake District, or who was in a rowing club. Or who spent the weekend camping and building fires in the woods.
The most nature I got was when my mates chose to hang out drinking WKD in the local park. This was just how it was in Basingstoke!
So I was an adult when I first discovered camping and hiking. And I loved it. Being outdoors and feeling super adventurous (although most of my outdoor pursuits were exceptionally mellow). My biggest problem right from the start was confidence and not really knowing where to start. So I decided to work on getting my Mountain Leader qualification. Quite a bold decision for a beginner but I thought it would give me the skills I needed to do more.
I faced judgments, criticisms and turned up noses at my attempt to join the outdoors as a novice. Not to mention horrible sexism.
I also struggled to afford it financially when I started out. But the outdoors is cheap, I hear so often…..bull! Not if you want a waterproof that won’t leak on you in the middle of a storm. Or if you want a nice weekend hike in the Lakes and a return train from London costing £160+.
Those were the external battles but the internal ones were worse. Self-doubt, insecurities and imposter syndrome.
Look where I am now
Of all the things I am grateful for having, resilience is my biggest. It kept me (and continues to keep me) fighting, stubborn and determined to belong in a world where I want to be, even when things don’t work out.
And in the end, I got there.
I passed my Mountain Leader Award, completed my first big expedition, my blog blossomed and I created Love Her Wild, a group for female adventurers which has become my world. And even found a way to make money from what I am doing.
I am now one of them. An ‘adventurer’.
You might also be interested to read: How do I make a living as an adventurer.
Couldn’t quite put my finger on it
In case you are wondering, my internal battles continue. But underneath them all, I have a quiet confidence that I am doing ok, that what I am doing is right, because something is working – even if it’s different from how other adventurers have done it.
Since attending my first adventure event in early 2016, I have been to countless more. I consume adventure blogs almost on a daily basis. And for a long time, I had a niggling feeling about this scene and what was being portrayed that really bugged it. Until, finally, I put a finger on it.
It’s called privilege.
Let’s keep things a little real
It didn’t make sense to me. I kept seeing the same theme; fit, successful young adults having a big dream….usually an expedition that would cost thousands. They would quit their job (usually as a graphic designer), raise the money in sponsorship (prior to being a well-known adventurer) and head out their door. Months/years later they would return having completed their expedition with a book deal on their doorstep.
Then I would hear how I could achieve this too…
Just quit your job and do it…
Believe in yourself…
Be bold and brave…
You can achieve anything you set your mind too…
Well……..this is wrong! Or rather, let me be specific. I really do believe that self-belief, positively, confidence, etc can take you a long way and further than our self-limiting beliefs allow us, but these need to belong in a little context called reality.
It’s all too white and too rich
You’ve probably noticed already that the adventure world is a very privileged one. I recently wrote down a list of 15 adventurers that came to mind. I did some internet stalking and found 12 had gone to private school (my stalking abilities failed to suss out the other 3).
12 were male.
All of them were white and able-bodied.
I don’t mean to make assumptions but I would fathom a guess that most of them they come from a supportive family, and as well as having a fantastic education, and the invaluable network that comes with that (hello sponsors!) were probably exposed to great things when they were younger – overseas travel, ski trips, theatre outings etc.
Oh yea, I’m white and privileged too!
I think back to how hard it was for me getting into the outdoors. Starting out as an adult without any of those childhood experiences as a basis. Who was struggling financially and had other battles in my life. Although I wanted to be outdoors adventuring, I had other priorities.
But hang on a second. I am white, educated, can access free health care, I have a loving family who will no doubt (I hope?!) take me in should it all go wrong and I don’t have any dependents. My circumstances changed and I was able to build modest savings as a backup.
If it was not easy for me to become an adventurer and I have all this privilege, imagine how hard it would be if I let go of just one of those pillars holding me up right now.
The reality of circumstances
I consider myself fortunate to have had periods in my life of misfortunes, pinned down by circumstance, because it has given me perspective. This life is 90% luck. You don’t get to choose where, how or when you are born.
It doesn’t matter how much you want it. Sometimes your circumstances won’t let you have it. Period.
And this is what bothers me about adventurers.
Not once in the talks did I hear anyone acknowledge their luxuries. The wealth or privilege that made their lifestyle or decisions so much easier.
Let’s be openly grateful for the position we are in
There is nothing wrong with being privileged. It is a game of chance and we are all just doing our best with the lives we were given. But we should respect those who do not have these luxuries that we have by acknowledging and being grateful for what we do have.
Because adventure really is a luxury. Think about this…..we inflict hardship to gain perspective and satisfaction in our lives!
So let’s stop ramming down peoples throats that they should quit their job and go after their dream and stop being so scared. Is it fair to make out to the single-dad, struggling to hold down 2 jobs to feed his family that the only thing holding her back is himself?
No. No, it’s not.
Sure, we did quit our jobs. Headed out on adventures around the world and now have this great lifestyle where we can make a living from this and call ourselves ‘adventurers’. Our circumstances and opportunities all lined up for us just at the right time.
What a privilege we have.
It only takes 1 sentence to acknowledge this gratitude. I think we owe that to the others less fortunate than us, don’t you think?
Thanks for reading,