I am not adventurous.
There, I said it.
I don’t climb mountains, run marathons, scuba dive, catch waves, take daylong hikes, or pump crazy iron. I will never travel to India or the deserts of Africa. I refuse to do a headstand in yoga class. I’m not adventurous in the physical, adrenaline rush sense – therefore, in the eyes of most beholders, I am not adventurous.
Much like extroverts have long been deemed “better” by societal norms, being athletic-outdoorsy-adventurous is also somehow superior to adventures of the mental, emotional, and spiritual variety. Granted, there are people that can swing both and I find that admirable. But I’m not one of those people and don’t want to be one of those people, so will probably never be one of those people. And I’m tired of apologizing for it.
Those apologies and I go way back. Like many “indoors people,” they started with P.E. class and attempts at playing organized sports. For me, adventure was on the page and on the stage – writing, reading, singing, dancing, violin, performing in school plays. That’s where I was most graceful and most myself. As soon as physical exertion and athletic equipment arrived on the scene, I turned into Gerald Ford. My elementary and middle school years were riddled with bringing up the rear, falling on my face, missing the ball, and being the last chosen for the team (with resignation at that). Those memories never really fade. To this day, every “Oh, come on, just try it!” when it comes to anything involving athletic prowess or outdoor adventure has the ability to move me to tears.
But I do try. Almost every time, I will try. And over the years, I’ve actually come to enjoy the outdoors – on the water in a boat, on a gentle trail in the woods, long walks just about anywhere. I’ve come to love nature and being immersed in it in my own slow, quiet way. And that’s enough for me. There are those who prod me with, “See, you got to this point! Keep going – pretty soon, you’ll be rappelling down a cliff!” But for now – and likely forever – this is enough. And I shouldn’t feel sheepish in saying, “Thank you. This is just fine for me.”
It should be okay – in fact, accepted and encouraged – for the societal perception of adventurous to expand and include taking risks with one’s life choices – career, relationships, personal growth. Where’s the gold medal for leaving a marriage that’s not working, moving alone to a new city where you don’t know a soul, quitting a lucrative job to start a business? Where’s the blue ribbon when you create a new life for yourself, shaped by what feels right to you instead of what others expect of you? Where’s the award for throwing away your inhibitions to spend two years performing improv in a black box theater in Times Square? Where’s the pennant for marrying the love of your life even though it scares the living shit out of you? Where’s the trophy when your business goes gangbusters and, as a single self-employed woman, you’re able to buy your own home – one that meets your every hope, wish, and desire?
Is all of that NOT adventure?
Why yes, in fact it is. Adventurous is “willing to take risks or try out new methods, ideas, or experiences” – that’s exactly how it’s defined. So you’re adventurous every time you cook something new, take a new job, pitch for a new client, move to a new place, let your beliefs evolve as you take in new information.
We all meander outside our comfort zone and elbow our boundaries in different ways. Going out on a limb doesn’t have to involve actually climbing a tree. And if someone suggests that it should, you have every right to say, “Thank you. This is just fine for me.”