Why adventure? Personal development (Part 3 of 4)

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Travel widens your horizon. Meeting all kinds of different people, learning from new cultures and seeing how people live in different parts of the world. All these experiences stay with you, for eternity! The more you see of the world, the more cultures you see and the better you can empathize with other cultures then your own. I notice how people who traveled are more open to different people, cultures, eating habits and also unknown food. And I’m not talking about a 10 day all inclusive hotel stay, but “real” travel. Backpacking, (hitch)hiking, cycling, walking, driving… The difference is that you duck into a different culture, and by doing this you notice how your own culture is and how you, yourself are. Different habits of the people around you makes you aware of your own habits. Your habits might even appear as rude, while you think they’re totally normal… In Russia it’s normal to toast to every drink. If you drink before the toast people would probably correct you and tell you how their habit is. Yes, you just developed a bit more!

Next to this all the things you experience along the way are also important. You develop trough all your experiences and this gives you more and more confidence. And you learn how to deal with situations you normally don’t get into, while passing by different sides of yourself which has been previously hidden. Maybe you are a real good leader in sticky situations or maybe it seems your stamina is huge! With this you learn how to deal with yourself in difficult situations, and by this self confidence comes on a personal level. The more you have to trust on yourself (by traveling alone to a far away country, or by doing a hard adventure), the more you grow as a person and know what you’re able of. After 4 weeks alone on my bicycle trough Europe, I noticed that I really missed my friends and my girlfriend at the time. But what can you do if you only have a bike, a tent and a old nokia phone? After some texts with my friends it didn’t get much better… A week long I’ve been watching beautiful sunsets with a heart full of melancholy… But a phone call with my girlfriend at the time made a end to this! It seemed I just needed some social interaction with somebody who was standing close to me! I’ve learned from this that I need contact, and that talking with somebody close to me is something I really need. Every person has a small thing like that, something that is pretty normal, but shows in moments like these.

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Mostly people change after a big adventure or after a long period of travel. They are more self confident and more true to themselves. Actually these people have a head start on other people in life, who didn’t travel or stepped outside their comfort zone. This because these people encountered situations you wouldn’t encounter in your “normal” working-sleeping-working-sleeping life. By experiencing different things or to get into different situations you develop on a way that is very important in life.

Actually one grows on two ways: Cultural and individual. These two things together will help you grow like fertilizer to a plant. It makes your horizon wider and wider in a way that only happens when you bring yourself in hard conditions; it might be trough adventure, backpacking or other ways of travel. So it seems personal development is the most important reason to go on an adventure!

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In the next part I will discover how nature drives adventurers. Read it here:

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Why adventure? Personal challenge & victory (Part 2 of 4)

Standing in a hostel in Budapest, my bike fully packed (it was totally unstable as the picture might show) I thought by myself: Ok, this will be a challenge to get home, 2000 km’s in a couple of weeks while making a film. Lets go! When I took my bike out on the street I almost fell down and thought: shit… This will not be easy!

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This is part 2 of 4 about the reasons why I think people would go on a hard adventure or expedition. The previous part is about excitement of a adventure. Check it here.

The challenge is what drives me. I can do my skate trip trough the Netherlands (450 km) on a bicycle, but then it will be like my previous cycling trips. I know I can do that and I know how it is. I mean, its lots of fun and a great way to challenge yourself, but for me cycling 450 km in a couple of days not a challenge anymore. Thats why I have to make it harder, to keep a certain amount of interest in the challenge for myself. If a trip isn’t a challenge it hardly serves a purpose for me, and when it doesn’t serve a purpose for me, it also has no purpose for others.

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A challenge is a challenge when you ask yourself: “Is the trip doable?” Or maybe your trip is barely doable. Setting a challenge for yourself is the most important. A challenge where you think: “Damn, I have to put some effort in this, and it will be hard!” The first day of my 2000 km cycling trip or my 160 km beach trip, I really thought: “What did I get myself into? I’ll never make it!” And there is the challenge, thinking that you’re not able to finish the trip, but to try non the less. Taking the risk and see where it all ends up. At the end of your trip you will look back and you feel the victory. Above all its a victory over yourself. You had the feeling you couldn’t do it, but you’ve managed! Now you know you’re able to do it again in the future when its necessary. It seems you can do more then you thought and you’ll take this with you in your normal (read: not being on a trip) life. If somebody would ask me to walk 30 Km on 1 day I think: oh yeah, no problem, I’ve done 50 km on the beach in 1 day so 30 is totally doable for me!

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You will take that victory with you, forever. And the bigger the challenge is, the bigger the victory, the more you know you can do, the stronger and more confident you are about certain aspects in life. From each victory you get a little stronger, and now the phrase “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” is in full effect!

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Struggling is a part of victory over a hard challenge. A victory never comes without a challenge, otherwise it’s not a victory. There doesn’t have to be struggle the whole time, but the struggle is the key that opens the door to the victory. The more struggling one inflicts on themselves, the bigger the victory is, but this doesn’t mean that the challenge has to be harder! But when the challenge is higher, it makes the victory feel better and probably there is a bigger part of struggle.

It’s a “three in a row”: challenge, struggle and victory. In this case the struggle is a way to connect the challenge to the victory. But this is different for everybody! Some people walk through the amazon for 2 years straight, other people sleep a night outside. It really doesn’t matter how hard the struggle is, as long as you see the challenge and have the motivation to go towards the victory. In 8 days I’ll be skating 450 Km trough the Netherlands, but I don’t dare to stand 1 full minute under a ice cold shower… How’s that for a personal challenge!

If you like, you can follow my skate trip on my facebook page here. I’ll try to post something every day.

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This is part 2 of 4, the next part will be about the personal development that an adventure or journey brings you… Read it here.

Why adventure? Excitement (Part 1 of 4)

Imagine this: you sit on your couch, have a nice book in your hands a cup of hot tea on the table and the fire in the woodstove is crackling. The rain is hitting the windows, and you hear how the wind is blowing around your house. You take a zip of tea and think about the adventurer; outside in a tent, cold and tired, trying to make a small dinner on a tiny stove… Now why would a person do this and even like it!? 

In a series of blogposts, I’m trying to give a answer on this question. Probably it will not be the answer of all of the nomads, travelers, adventurers or outdoor people, but its my personal answer I collected trough reading numerous blogs, books, watching films, listening to interviews, talking to people about this and most important, doing this myself. I have found 4 (there must be millions more, but for me there are 4 big ones) reasons why somebody might do this and like it.

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Before I started my current education (Soon I’ll be “Bachelor of Popculture”, yes!) I traveled for a year and tried to ruff it as much as possible. I slept on the street in USA, met streetkids and spend time in their freaky bus, spent a night in a self made snow cabin at -30C in North Sweden and hitchhiked from Portugal to the Netherlands. All these things don’t appeal to the majority of people but I had to do them, to get where I am now. Why did I want to do these things? And what did I learn from them? In the short run just basic stuff. I learned that if you want to sleep on the street, make sure there is some kind of cover to sleep under because you might be awoken by a rain shower. Or if you want to hitchhike, make sure that you know where you are and where your destination is, otherwise it might take 6 hours of standing with lots and lots of traffic passing by.

It was only after my first long cycling trip trough sweden that there was a feeling of real sense in it all. In retrospect, this was also my first “adventure”. There was a sense of excitement; where would I sleep and what will I encounter? A sense of challenge and victory; will I make it? And if I made it, it would be a huge achievement! And being in the middle of stunning beautiful nature; the forests of sweden. These are 3 of the 5 reasons. The other reasons for me are: Personal development and Creativity.

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The 1st of February there will be a adventure for me to test if these 5 things are right. I will go from the most eastern point in the Netherlands to the most western point. These points are in the North-east and the South-west and are 450 kilometers apart. Perfect! To make it exciting for myself I will go on inline skates. Did I already mentioned I can’t skate at all? I’m learning as we speak (or read/write) and every time the skates are under my feet, there is a sense of excitement flowing over me. It started when I bought the skates. It starts small. The idea grows, and the closer the trip comes the bigger the excitement becomes. Can you remember when you were a kid and it was the night before your birthday? For sure you couldn’t sleep! Excitement all over! The same with this trip. I guess the night before departure there will be hardly any sleep, due to this excitement.

This feeling also makes me feel good and motivated. I’m working mostly behind my computer, and the sense of excitement to go on a crazy inline adventure makes it less oppressively to sit indoors all day. There is a positive vibe building up towards D-day, with a huge climax of the first step, paddle or skate-swoosh.

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Then the real excitement sets it. It’s not so strong as the build up towards the first steps of the trip, but it’s a more constantly feeling that sometimes comes up strongly. Mostly at the end of the day, when you have to find a place to sleep, put up your tent or make camp. Where will the place be, where you will lay your head for (hopefully) 8 hours? Will it be a beautiful place, with a view over the mountains or a lake? Or will it be a gas station because there is running water? Then there is the “morning excitement”. You wake up (if you have found the place with a view over a lake you’re lucky!) and drink your coffee. What will happen today? What will I encounter? Who will I encounter? Will my gear or my body do what I would like it to do? All these thoughts come up while staring over the lake… This is why I do it. The excitement of the day. Being surprised by everything, because I can’t expect anything!

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This excitement beats being in a cosy, warm house with a cup of tea reading a book. Even when it’s stormy, rainy or cold. I’ll be in my bivvy bag, with a small basic meal thinking about what the next day will bring. I have no clue what it will bring, but I know it will be exciting!

This is part 1 of 4, in the next part I will see how it is with the challenge & victory… Read it here.