I’m not usually the adventure-seeking type, but over the last year or so, I’ve nevertheless found myself on several adventures. Consider the following: Since last January, I’ve begun and completed teacher training, traveled to England, started a new job, gone on a self-guided retreat ( which involved my first-ever solo road trip), and drove five hours to a series of yoga workshops without knowing a soul there.
How’d all this come to pass for a shy, routine-seeking, directionally challenged person like me? Well, at some point last year, I decided to say “yes” to more. Since my default response to adventurous proposals seems to be “no”, this journey toward “yes” wasn’t always easy (also, I hadn’t — and still haven’t — read the Shonda Rhimes, book Year of Yes). I consider myself to be naturally risk-adverse, with an inclination to conjure up worst-case scenarios in my mind. But for some reason, I decided these tendencies wouldn’t guide 2015 or 2016. Whenever a prospect for adventure crossed my path, I began to look for ways to say “yes” instead of reasons to say “no”. If there was an expensive trip, I put aside money, bought fewer things, and ate out less; if I wanted to go somewhere by myself, I asked my husband to keep the kids instead of assuming I was burdening him; if I wanted to travel to an unfamiliar city, I took walks to get the lay of the land or used my pal Siri to help me navigate. In other words, I began to seek solutions, and the world begins to look different when you see solutions instead of obstacles — it becomes your playground rather than your prison.
I guess I’m beginning to look different too. Each time I say yes to a new adventure, I learn more about myself. How strong I am, for instance, and how resourceful. How capable I am, and how worthwhile my existence is, without needing to prove or justify my worth. Slowly, I am revising the story I’ve told myself since I was an adolescent: I’m no good at directions, I can’t travel without someone to guide me, I’m boring, I need to prove myself. Instead, I’m trying to see myself as more of a photograph in development; a work in progress.
I don’t have any sage wisdom or five-easy-steps advice to becoming more adventurous. What I have is more of a dare: Say yes — and see what happens.