Adventure. What stops us getting out there? Stephanie Boon on the cliffs above St Agnes, Cornwall, UK

Adventure. What Stops Us Getting Out There?

Adventure is exciting, it makes us feel alive and connected to the world we live in. So, what is it that stops women leading more adventurous lives?

Bex Band of The Ordinary Adventurer published her thoughts on the issue a while back: Adventure and Privilege Everyone can do this (Nov 2017). It’s still relevant, and it got me thinking.

Most ‘adventurers’ are men and there’s a cultural belief that ‘anyone can do this’ (you just have to be committed to your challenge, quit your job and get on with it), the implication being that if it’s something you aspire to and you’re not doing it you’re just not trying hard enough. Bex called this out :

...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 {sic} back is himself?

No, she said. No, it’s not.

And then, slowly, it dawned on me that I'm the person she's talking about.

One of the many anyway.

Financial Barriers To Adventure

Quit your job they say. I haven’t had one for a decade due to serious mental health illness (I’m glad to say I’m much, much healthier now!). Use your savings? Have you tried saving on an income way less than working minimum wage? I can’t even afford a passport. Try adventures at home? Bex cites the cost of a return train fare from London to the Lake District costing £160+. (Nov 2017). Today the fare from Truro in Cornwall to Windermere in the Lakes is £438.60 (Trainline). But it doesn’t matter if it only costs £100.00 when you’re struggling to feed and clothe yourself and your family. It’s all pie in the sky.

And, there’s something else the male, privileged white adventurer neglects to acknowledge: women earn significantly less than men. If you happen to be a woman in Cornwall (or another deprived area of the country) you’re likely to be even more financially disadvantaged than women elsewhere: Cornwall is one of the poorest counties in the UK: Low wages in Cornwall (it makes pretty grim reading).

But what if money isn’t a barrier, but you’re struggling to find the time?

Family Commitments

It’s a widely acknowledged fact that women spend proportionally more time caring for other family members than their male counterparts. We look after children, grandchildren, parents, extended family, even friends and neighbours, regularly putting other people’s needs before our own. Single parents, or parents of children with difficulties of their own, have added responsibilities.

It’s all too real to feel trapped by circumstances, but it’s not all about money and family commitments.

Attitude and Social Expectations

You're too old. You're too unfit. You're selfish. You're a woman. You're too scared.

You’ve heard it all before and on top of everything else it’s a battle you’re too exhausted to fight.

None of these facts stop the restless, niggling desire to get out and experience the world on your own terms though. But under the burden of all those hurdles you put it off, or begin to believe it’ll never happen for you. So, what can you do?

I’m not one to leave it there and give up on the idea. And I don’t believe you are either. It’s one of the reasons this website is so important to me and I hope will become a useful resource and source of inspiration for you.

As yet, I don’t have a ‘proper’ income – no paid employment, no income from self-employment. And I have a young adult son who suffers with severe anxiety and looks like he’ll be at home for another 3 years while he studies for a BA at uni. But none of this means I’m going to put off having some adventure on foot. Hiking and walking really does keep me sane!

I think the first thing any of us that live in challenging circumstances needs to do is re-frame adventure. What does it really mean?

2 women out for an adventure, climbing the rocky cliffs near Zennor, Cornwall, UK.

Re-framing Adventure

I’m lucky. I’ve got to a point in my life where I’m able to think about what I can do rather than focus on the restrictions I face that are difficult or slow to change. I’m lucky I’m in good health and can recognise and call out the negative feelings that sometimes overwhelm me. I’m lucky those feelings are finally fading. And I’m especially lucky I happen to live in an exceptionally beautiful part of the world (Cornwall of course!). And I’m making sure adventure is at the centre of it.

So what is adventure, exactly? According to the Oxford English Dictionary adventure is

An unusual and exciting or daring experience.

There’s no definition I could find that says it has to be on the other side of the world. It doesn’t say it has to be an expedition to the North Pole, Kathmandu or Mars. It doesn’t say you can’t have an adventure in your own back yard. So, that’s where I’ve focused my energies in recent years. (I think of it as preparation for the ‘big’ adventures to come!)

The word to focus on here is “experience”. Adventure IS an experience.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune (it doesn’t have to cost anything) and it doesn’t mean you have to neglect your responsibilities (whether they’re responsibilities you want or not). What it does mean is that if you’re physically and mentally well you are going to have to put on the gloves and fight those attitudes and expectations that say you can’t have adventure in your life. The hardest attitudes to fight are the ones in our own heads, but it’s your life and you deserve to live it on your terms.

The very definition of adventure means that it will be different for everyone: the only thing you have to do to qualify as an adventurer is to have unusual and exciting or daring experiences.

Essentially that means an experience that will push you out of your comfort zone. Even a little.

I want to share with you how I do it, what adventure is for me. And I’m going to be honest. I’m going to share with you the difficulties I have, how much it costs me and where that money and time comes from. I’m going to show you what I do that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and always makes me want to do it again and again!

I hope we can encourage each other to re-frame the adventure in our lives, whether they’re the day to day adventures we have or the big adventures that might take us weeks or even months to achieve.

Get On Board

Whaddya reckon? Are you on board? Let’s get this conversation started, what, if anything, is getting in your way at the moment? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll take it from there.

In the mean time, put your shoes on and get outside for some fresh air, a walk or a hike and together we’ll put adventure back on our maps.

Happy Hiking!

Stephie x

Instagram Adventurers

PS  Are you an Instagram addict, like me?  There are some wonderfully adventurous women to follow for inspiration, as I’m sure you’ve discovered. But if you’re looking for more than superb mountain views, I highly recommend these women for their attitudes and honesty:

Sarah Williams @toughgirlchallenges

Sarah’s on a mission to inspire women through her Tough Girl podcast. She recognised women’s adventurous achievements were virtually missing in popular media and her podcast redresses the balance. Sarah interviews women from all walks of life from all around the world – women doing extraordinarily adventurous things, despite (or because of) circumstances.

But it’s not just the women she interviews that are taking life by the horns: Sarah shares her own adventures. Yes, she’s single. Yes, she has no children (grammar police? I don’t care!). But, in her late 30’s she’s still living with her parents so that she can make it all happen. I admire her immensely.

Victoria and the Tiny Humans @adventure_family

Victoria turned 30 this year. It’s an age you imagine it’s easy to find adventure. But Victoria, and so many women like her, has already had her fair share of hard knocks at the hands of an abusive partner. She’s a single mother with two young children and is taking amazing steps to rebuild her life with adventure right at the centre of it. She shares the rough with the smooth, her hopes and dreams and her commitment to making her daughters’ lives full of adventurous experiences. Whether you have young children or not, Victoria is one to follow.

Seanna Fallon @seannasworld

Seanna’s tagline is ‘Overcoming Adversity Through Adventures Outdoors’. As well as a fab IG account she blogs at Seanna’s World. Seanna suffers from chronic PTSD and wants to show that even with a difficult mental health illness adventure is possible. In fact I think she’d go as far as to say that it’s absolutely essential for her well-being. Passionate and honest, open and heartfelt, Seanna is an inspiration.

There are so many wonderfully adventurous women of all ages, from all walks of life all around the world. These are just a few that inspire me on IG. I plan to share more on a regular basis and I hope you’ll share yours in the comments too.

 

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