Adventure is all around us, we just have to be willing to welcome it in. As a naturally reserved and cautious person, I found it difficult to let down my guard and go with the flow both at home and especially whilst travelling. I would meet other people when I was backpacking around India or South East Asia who had had the most incredible experiences. They told tales of locals showing them to hidden gems that were not in any guidebook or they would have been invited to strangers homes for dinner or even wedding ceremonies. I was so envious, and I couldn’t work out why these things never happened to me. I was putting myself in exotic locations and planning exciting itineraries, but somehow my adventures just weren’t living up to those of the people around me.
What I couldn’t appreciate then was the difference in the vibes we were giving off. These people that I met were relaxed and effortlessly confident. they made people want to engage with them and spend time with them. Importantly they were also assertive, if a situation changed and they were suddenly uneasy they thought nothing of getting themselves out of it. On the other hand I felt out of my depth. Constantly worried in equal measure about my own safety and about avoiding causing any offence, I had put up subconscious barriers to avoid anything but a cursory engagement with local people. I worried about ending up in uncomfortable situations, from running out of things to talk about, to inadvertently offending people, right up to ending up in possibly dangerous situations that I would be too polite or un-assertive to get myself out of. And so my inadvertent coping mechanism was to shut myself off from any possibility of such situations arising- and with them the interesting adventures I so envied in my peers.
As I slowly became more confident travelling and I suppose as I matured as a person, I started to notice and reflect on these differences between myself and the people I wanted to be. And the thing that I noticed was that this behaviour which was becoming so obvious about my travelling self was also equally true of my home self. At home I was less worried about safety and more about routine. Having enough time to sleep, a rigid exercise regime and a worse study-timetable left me with a daily routine that was closed to any possibility of spontaneity. And this fact caused me to withdraw from situations where I might be drawn in to such spontaneous and routine-busting behaviour.
How bad is that?
But I suspect there are many other people out there who are the same. Maybe for different reasons, maybe in different ways, but there are so many of us who for the pretence of self-protection are cutting ourselves off from engaging with the full richness of life.
And I want to tell you that you can change that. And the solution is easy. Just say yes! Instead of instantly putting up your guard and thinking of a million reasons to refuse a spontaneous plan or unexpected invitation, just relax and say yes. Start small, and in a safe environment such as at home. And listen to your gut. It is a fine balance between relaxing and letting go of your resistance and listening to your gut when it tells you something is wrong or dangerous. But by allowing yourself to explore this your reward will be both increased excitement and variety in your everyday life, and also an increased awareness of your gut instincts which will allow you to live in a way that is true to you.
Try it today: for the next week make a point of saying yes to new invitations an opportunities and while you are there say yes to enjoying them and making the most of the new experiences. You might be surprised at what happens! And be sure to let me know, either by email or in the comments section below, how you get on.