Everyone gets intimidated sometimes, right?
Especially during travel. After all, it’s a mighty big world out there.
However, once you’ve conquered the fear of getting out there, it will be a great, grand, non-stop adventure….
Well, that’s what I thought… until I conquered the great big wide world (I mean I went to Spain, but bear with me).
After I got here, I was absolutely ready to go out into the city, meet people, do things, and basically conquer the world. Then, after a few successes (and not a significant amount of failures), I began staying in more.
Honesty, I haven’t been “out” (meaning to a bar) since I’ve been here. No cosmopolitan interactions with fellow expats, pubcrawls into the wee hours of the morning, no posh coffee dates with like-minded souls on a sunny rooftop cafe in the city center.
I also have not traveled outside of Madrid since I arrived, and the Trip, once a grand 3-city European adventure, is now a simple, laid-back jaunt to the coast.
I began to panic.
What was I doing with my life? I’d already been here two months, and my sense of adventure was gone! I felt like I was wasting my time and too scared to go out. I looked around at other expats, both online and in real life. They seemed to have it all together, a vast circle of friends and travel buddies, and there I was, staying in on Friday nights, either writing or binge-watching Outlander (sidenote: my next destination will be Scotland, where I will find a sexy Highlander of my own. But that’s another post).
Basically, I felt like I was a phony. A fake. A mere facade of an intrepid traveller.
See, the type of intimidation I’m referring to is the pressure we feel to be the Real McCoy, as it were. If I wasn’t traveling and exploring at every turn (or at least every other turn… or every every other turn), then I wasn’t actually a “real” adventurer, and I would be ousted to the world as a fake and a source of ridicule for years to come (you know what I mean).
However, as hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t make myself feel bad about it – at least not enough to change anything. The most stunning realization kept me from making any alterations – I was happy.
That alone made me not want to change a damn thing. After a while, I realized that I didn’t have to. So what if I wouldn’t have crazy stories to tell when I returned home – I wasn’t doing it for anyone else’s benefit, I was doing this adventure for me.
When that realization hit me, I realized that I could do it any way I chose. If I wanted to be “up all night”, fine. If I wanted a quiet evening in (or a thousand quiet evenings in) either solo or with my Spanish family, that was OK too. Just as long as I was doing what I wanted.
Now, this is where the post diverges a bit. I considered ending with the paragraph above… perhaps finding a beautiful landscape meme about living your adventure or finding your inner voice. However, there is more to this story.
There is a vast difference between staying in because that’s what you want to do, and staying in because you’re afraid of going out. However, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with staying in because you’re afraid to go out.
Allow me to elaborate in terms that we all are acquainted with – money.
We all need money, right? Pay bills, buy food, book flights, put gas in the car… what have you. So what do we do? We work. We get full-time jobs, part time jobs, freelance work, monetize our blogs. Whatever form it takes, we have to earn money. Typically, after money is earned, it goes into a bank (or under the mattress, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll assume it’s a bank, k?). You’ve gotten your job, you’ve earned your check, and now you have money in the bank. ‘Gratz.
So now you have a set amount of cash. When we need to buy something, our money levels go down. Once we get to a certain point, we start having to be very careful to make sure we don’t overdraw. Or, in our very credit-driven world, we can enter into a vastly terrifying and slippery slope world of plastic. Because who doesn’t like owing more than they have?
Adventuring is much the same. We’ve pumped ourselves up, bought our tickets, and ventured forth into the world. But here’s the thing – we have a set amount of currency in our adventure bank that varies based on experience, personality type, etc. If you find yourself dreading going out, you’ve bottomed out your adventure juice.
When you reach that point, you have two options: you can either take out a loan on your adventure juice, or you can take a step back, a breath, and a break. Have a quiet night in. You don’t have to go out every night, or even every other night. If you want to go to the beach for a week and do nothing but sit on the beach for a week, that is perfectly fine, too.
That’s not to say don’t try again. Perhaps you want to go out, but you don’t have the reserves to stay out all night. Then just go for an hour. Flamenco show followed by a pub crawl? Go to the Flamenco show, and skip the pub crawl. Build up to what you want to do.
You don’t always have to jump in headfirst. If you spend all of your adventure currency up at once, you may get burnt out and not feel like doing anything at all. Pace yourself so that your money (courage!) lasts your whole trip.
Adventure at your own speed. Adventure in the manner which will be most enjoyable for you. Adventure in a way that will make you the most happy.
That is, after all, what it’s all about, no?