“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
I love that advice from Eleanor Roosevelt, a supremely cool person in so many ways. I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly adventurous person, and as I chatted with a mommy-friend the other day over coffee, I realized that so many of the things I’m proud of in my history are the things that I leaped into with no expectation of how they would turn out. We compared notes on how our lives were different pre-kid. For me it was about traveling agenda-less around Europe, for her it was Central and South America. Scraping by on a few dollars a day in hostels of questionable cleanliness and becoming fast friends with fellow travelers as we went. Picking up and moving at a time in our lives when many of our friends were seeking out respectable jobs and stability. Whirlwind romances. Exquisite heartbreaks.
And while I’ve never been quite as adventurous as either half of the couple in this video, I love that you can see even in the video that they do what they do not without fear, but in spite of their fear.
You can hear their concern for their own safety and one another in their every breath and expression. Moved by their story, I also found myself wondering if they were planning to have children, and if so, how that would impact the kinds of risks they will take down the line.
For me, having kids has quelled my adventurous side a bit, just as you would expect. It goes beyond that responsible feeling of anxiety you
get when another life is dependent on you; it’s also that kids become so much the focus of your attention, energy and money that it doesn’t leave room for many grand adventures. Instead of hauling off around the world or the country in search of my own adventures, I drive back and forth to preschool in my minivan, listening to audiobooks of the adventures of other people – real and fictional. The most adventurous trip we’ve taken lately was for a week at Disneyworld (which, to be fair, did scare the crap out of me).
I do find myself missing that thrill sometimes, stepping into the unknown and wondering what kind of experience I can carve out of it. I miss getting in my car with no particular destination in mind, rolling the windows down and just following the blacktop wherever it wants to take me. (I also miss being able to go anywhere without having to referee fights in the backseat or explain precisely where we are going every step of the way, but that’s another story). I miss moving to other cities – arriving in a totally new place knowing no one, with a carload of stuff and no idea what to expect. One of the best things about that particular experience is that it always forced me to do something to meet people – join a writing club, take an acting class, accept a random invitation. I even miss the first day of a new job, with its butterflies and possibilities.
Of course one day I’ll have some of those experiences again, and even if I don’t, I have the opportunity to create those experiences on a smaller scale in my current life. Meeting a new group of moms at the bus stop. Talking to a friend about an idea for an exciting new project. Or simply putting the words on the page even though I’m not at all sure they’ll be worth reading. The challenge of my current life is in seeing the adventure that’s there, and making sure that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone in less obvious ways than shouldering a backpack and venturing out into a foreign city.
What about you? Do you try to have adventures every day? What’s your favorite way to push past your comfort zone?
I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I blog about writing, publishing, motherhood, health, psychology and whatever else strikes me in the moment.
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My current roster of books includes The Marriage Pact series, a trilogy of funny, semi-realistic Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction novels. You can find them for all eBook formats and in paperback here.
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