You’d probably assume that I’ve always been into adventure as the founder of a site called “Adventure Mom.”
If you ask my childhood friends they’ll assure you that I wasn’t. I remember being intimidated to go down the big slide during recess in kindergarten and my teacher having to coax me to go down.
I didn’t start riding big roller coasters until 8th grade when my “friend” made it so that I couldn’t walk through the line by sitting down in the car first.
As a kid, I wouldn’t have dared to dream of all of the adventures I’ve crossed off my list as an adult.
Invitations for adventure have a funny way of changing people from within and their perspectives on life.
I’m Just a Wimp at Heart Who Keeps Getting Braver
Growing up I was a bit of a wimp. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have a “traditional” family growing up.
My brother, who was 3 years older than me/ my only sibling, had cerebral palsy.
He was non-verbal, had a feeding tube, and was confined to a wheelchair his whole life.
Because of his special needs and physical limitations, I didn’t have a typical sibling relationship where my older brother challenged me… or shamed me into trying new things.
I was also shyer growing up and many times it was easier to hide behind the wheelchair and let the attention be on my brother instead of on me.
Accessibility for families with special needs when I was a kid definitely was very different than what it is today.
Going out as a special needs family on adventures was a challenge because of the lack of accessible bathrooms, playgrounds, and attractions.
As a result, my parents and a team of friends and volunteers helped build the first accessible playground in our community in honor of my brother after he passed away when I was in middle school.
The Power of An Invitation For Adventure
During my middle school and high school years, an outdoor adventure-loving family from our church invited me to join them on their adventures at Red River Gorge in east-central Kentucky.
This is where I rappelled off of giant cliffs, tried rock climbing, and later went on additional trips where I rappelled 300+ feet into a cave!
So how did this self-proclaimed wimp end up eventually rappelling upside down over the arch pictured above?
Everything started small.
First, it was overcoming an intimidating climb with safety ropes and harnesses.
Next, it was trusting my friend’s parents who talked me literally over the edge of a cliff for my first rappel.
I was so scared but there was something inside of me that expanded each time that I rose up to the challenge. Each time I faced what intimidated me, I grew a little more confident and a little braver for the next thing.
I credit this family for some of my “crazy” when it comes to adventure.
I took the seeds of adventure planted in me during those trips and used them like rungs of a ladder to step up, moving forward to my next act of bravery.
This family let me stay at their home for extended periods of time when my brother was in the hospital, and they also saw a need and an opportunity to help stir up bravery within me.
Adventure Doesn’t Have to Be Extreme
I think the biggest myth about adventure is that it has to be extreme or it isn’t really an adventure.
Adventure is an invitation to go outside of your comfort zone into the unknown.
It’s where you don’t know all of the details or what to expect ahead of time. You’re not even 100% guaranteed that you’ll like it and you still try it anyway.
There is a bit of mystery and curiosity.
It most likely won’t go how you had it planned in your mind. Sometimes it turns out even better than you anticipated and sometimes it makes a great story… because it didn’t.
You May Need to Be Brave and Make the First Step
When I was new to a city, I craved friendship so badly. I left a lot of really great friends behind and I cried a lot in the shower in the beginning.
Over time I kept on putting myself out there. It was hard. It was extremely uncomfortable and awkward but I was really tired of being lonely.
I remember attending an event where I met this woman, who was a collector of friends.
Have you ever met someone like this? She had a random collection of people that you normally wouldn’t put together in a room.
She was an inviter and a connector. She made me and everyone she crossed paths, with feel like we had known her for years within our first encounter.
At the event, she invited me to join her and some of her friends for lunch at a culinary school restaurant the following week.
I’ll never forget the moment outside the restaurant on the sidewalk when I started to second-guess myself and my decision to dine with strangers. I decided to not listen to my fears and took a very deep breath and walked in.
That lunch led to yoga at her house with new friends of all ages and an invitation to join her on a sprint triathlon.
She was retired, a cancer survivor, and had a philosophy of why not?!
She even said she may not complete the spring triathlon but it would be fun to try it.
None of us had ever done anything like that before and one of the ladies didn’t even know how to swim! (A sprint triathlon involves swimming, biking, and running.)
That was the beauty of it. We trained on our own and met up to train together for a “bigger-than-us” adventure.
I would have been robbed of this incredible experience and friendships that started with just being brave enough to join a few strangers for lunch.
Adventure Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
Adventure can be as simple as finding something you want to do and inviting someone to join you.
That’s it. Don’t overthink it!
It could be a “new to you” restaurant, a class, a special event, or a hiking trail you want to check out.
For example, a hiking friend and I had a season where we tried a new hike and a restaurant, for the best of both worlds.
Help Stir Bravery in Others With An Invitation For An Out of Your Comfort Zone Adventure
The very first time I tried the trapeze, I invited as many people as possible to join me.
It was intimidating but I had always wanted to try the trapeze ever since I was a kid. I watched actress Brooke Shields try it on the TV show Circus of the Stars. (I know I’m dating myself)
That tv show planted the seed in me that non-circus people could learn to do circus skills.
The trapeze was a first-time adventure that was better shared with a group. We found courage and encouragement from each other as we individually challenged ourselves on the trapeze bar one by one.
I know that most of us wouldn’t have signed up to try the trapeze by ourselves and it was less intimidating that there was safety in numbers in trying it for the first time together.
We knew that we wouldn’t be pros at our first attempts and there was beauty in our bravery and failing forward.
My Friend’s Invitation For an Out of My Comfort Zone Adventure
On the flip side, one of my friends has invited me to join her on the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike.
It’s a bigger-than-me goal that I need to train for that’s about a year from now…and I kind of like the challenge. It gives me something to look forward to and prepare for.
I only have confidence that I can do something like this because I thought back to my first 5K, 10K, half marathon, and sprint triathlon.
Each one felt intimidating and out of reach until I was on the other side of the adventure.
I’m no longer a runner/ slow jogger but I know that I’ve overcome physical and mental challenges before and I can do it again. The grit sticks.
I can’t wait to meet the person I’ll be and the person I’ll become on the other side of this adventure!
Say YES to Invitations for Adventure
Maybe you’re a fellow wimp at heart, who finds it easier to say no than to work up the bravery to say yes.
What would happen if you started saying yes?
Even when it’s intimidating, inconvenient, awkward, and unknown.
…You might end up running through mud in tutus and tiaras with friends.
Saying no is so easy to justify.
- I’m tired.
- I haven’t done that before.
- I’m not familiar with it.
- What if I don’t know anyone?
- What if I’m not good at it?
- I don’t want to look stupid.
- It’s expensive
- I don’t want to put myself out there and experience rejection.
Do any of those resonate with you?
I know they do with me. I have to push past self-doubt and exert more energy when I say yes.
I’ve never regretted saying “yes” on the other side of it.
Some of my greatest friendships and experiences have come on the other side of saying yes. It’s easy to let self-doubt or lack of interest allow you to miss opportunities.
For example, when my friend invited me to a vegan food truck event, it wasn’t something that I was super excited about as a big-time meat eater.
I went because I wanted to support her and also be open to trying new foods, and new businesses surrounded by people who enjoyed something different than me.
Let Go of Perfection!
Perfection hinders us from experiencing so many things. Why do we put expectations on ourselves to do something “perfect” when we try it for the first time?!!
Leave your ego behind and start to embrace looking stupid. Even better if you can laugh at yourself along the way.
The picture above is a perfect example of that. I took a BOGA “floating mat” aqua fitness class with a friend.
My body was not in the “perfect” swimsuit shape for the class. During the class, my friend and I fell off the floating mats A LOT, while attempting various exercises…and it was hilarious!
We probably burned more calories than the whole class combined from laughing so hard to the point of tears at each other and ourselves.
After the class was over we encouraged two observers of our class to try standing on the board. They found more confidence to try it because we modeled that it was okay and even fun to look stupid trying.
Fail Forward With “Experiments”
Sometimes you’ll try something new and realize that it’s not for you. Or you may be frustrated that you didn’t progress or acquire the skill as quickly as you had hoped.
Or maybe you put yourself out there for a new friendship or adventure and discovered that it wasn’t a great fit.
An “experiment” gives you a pass to “fail” and also progress at the same time.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
Consider calling something that you want to challenge yourself to do an “experiment” instead.
Doesn’t calling it an “experiment” sound and feel better?
If it works out…AWESOME!
If it doesn’t…it was an experiment. Now you have more knowledge and an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.
“The one who falls and gets up is stronger than the one who never tried. Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.” – Roy T. Bennett
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” –J.K. Rowling
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried.” –Stephen McCranie
An Adventure Invitation Challenge
I invite you to join me in being both an adventure invitation giver and an adventure invitation receiver.
Look for others around you who have been sitting on the sidelines of life. Your invitation for adventure could help to revive, stir up bravery, or spark something new in them.
Many times the desire is there, they just need the invitation.
Even if the first person you ask says no, I’d encourage you to keep trying and not give up. It’s your “experiment” with inviting others to share an adventure.
Also, keep in mind that there is bravery and vulnerability when someone invites you to share an adventure with them. This may be something that they’ve worked up the courage to do and they may fear the risk of rejection.
One story comes to mind when I asked a person, whom I met for the first time at a conference if she wanted to go on a brewery tour with me.
She wasn’t even the first person that I asked. My husband had to cancel last minute and I needed to find someone in a very short amount of time. She and I shared an adventure that day and became better friends over the years.
We also bonded because we were almost left behind and locked in an underground lager tunnel during the tour…but that’s a story for another day.
If you don’t know someone very well, one of the fastest ways to accelerate your friendship is by sharing a first-time adventure together.
You’re only an adventure away from a new perspective and more confidence. The magic happens on the other side of our comfort zones.