I’m sure you’ve heard with the phrase ‘Do one thing everyday that scares you’. You’ll have seen it shared a hundred times, usually accompanied by a picture of someone leaping off a cliff into a waterfall.
The quote is usually attributed to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who actually said:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Nice sentiment, though not quite as catchy.
Do one thing everyday that scares me? No thanks. Bugger that. I’d be a nervous wreck.
I don’t want to be scared. I want to be comfortable, warm, happy and within reach of digestive biscuits at all times. I realise that the saying is meant more in the context of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to try new things, like calamari or tap dancing, rather than suggesting you challenge an axe murderer to an arm wrestle, but I still don’t like it.
I am open to the idea of experiencing new things but we have comfort zones for a reason. I trust my instincts, and usually, if I don’t think I will enjoy something, I almost certainly won’t. I keep trying olives in the hope that one day my palette will have changed and I will love the salty little buggers. This is about as far as I am wiling to push myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have adventures.
I think there is an idea that an adventure needs to be something wild and frenetic that scares you and takes you out of your comfort zone.
I have had some amazing adventures, but that doesn’t mean I have been climbing mountains or chucking myself out of planes or sleeping in ditches every holiday I go on.
To me, adventure is simply an experience that excites and intrigues me. Something that I will be anticipating and researching, planning and imagining constantly until the adventure begins. The thing that really defines an adventure for me though is wanting to tell everyone about it afterwards, in great detail, whether they want me to or not!
I do still love my annual fly and flop holiday. A holiday where I explore nothing more than the buffet and the bar. But I am never going to come home and rave to my friends about how wonderful my sunbathing spot was or about how many of the all-inclusive cocktails I drank (a lot).
What I will tell them is about how I held my breath when I saw cheetahs preparing to hunt in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. I’ll tell them about the my experience with the runaway horse in Peru. I’ll also tell them about my visit to the Icelandic Phalloglogical Museum (that’s a penis museum to you and me). Seriously, if you find yourself in Reykjavik, go! It’s a bizarre, hilarious and educational experience. Best museum gift shop I’ve ever seen.
None of these adventures scared me. Well, maybe a little. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t yell ‘I’m going to die. I AM GOING TO DIE.’ at least a couple of times when I was riding that bloody horse. But really, I was fine. I have always slept in comfortable beds, happy and warm on my adventures.
Your adventure can be spent camping or in 5* luxury. Slum it if you want, or go for all out decadence. Your choice. Want to stay in a houseboat in Kerala? Okili dokili. Or a monastery in China? No problemo. As long as it appeals to you, go for it.
It is your adventure after all. Don’t let anyone say that you should do something different or push yourself. An adventure is still adventure, regardless of where you sleep. It’s all about what you do and how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a chore, not an adventure. You might as well stay at home and wash dishes or go for a jog.
If you’re one of these nutters who likes to watch poo-your-pants frightening horror films or will happily eat fermented shark because it’s a local delicacy and you’re not a ‘typical tourist’, go for it. Challenge yourself. Leave your happy place. Do one thing every day that scares you.
Or, you just do one thing everyday that excites or intrigues you or makes you do a happy dance. In fact, you don’t even need to do something everyday. Life is busy. I don’t have the time or the energy to have an adventure every day. Christ, I’d be exhausted just trying to think of something new to do each morning, let alone actually having to do it.
I’m happy to save my adventures for my holidays. I’ll let expert guides plan the best experiences for me. I know they’ll find something every single day to intrigue, excite or maybe even scare me (not too much though please).
I’ll pack my digestive biscuits and some spare underwear, just in case.
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