I am so terrified of sucking at things. I avoid the things that are scary and intimidating because of my deep fear of failure.
On some level, it’s superficial. When I’m embarrassed I blush hard and it becomes a big production that you can see from the back of a room making everything worse. In other ways, it runs deep. It psychs me out of doing great things all the time. It stopped me from writing on this blog many times because I fear that no one will read or care about what I have to say. It stopped me from putting my whole heart into my passions and stopped me from reaching out to people who I admire.
Not doing something because you’re scared means you’ve already failed.
Did I ever tell you I once had a fashion blog? Ya, that’s something I failed at hard. But it taught me extraordinary things:
- It taught me that website design is hard work but I loved it.
- It taught me that I’d rather wear a paper bag in the woods than designer boots in the city.
- It taught me that overspending on trivial items was not how I wanted to live my life.
- It changed me into a person I didn’t like so I knew it was time for a do-over.
I had no idea how to use a DSLR when I started dabbling in photography in 2015. My photos sucked and my blog posts were rushed and unedited. I’m still learning SEO and I still suck at it.
I still use a cute Canon Rebel T1i with a variety of lenses (considered pretty amateur), which just goes to show that what you do with the things in your life is WAY more important than the actual things.
I started a vlog too
. I knew nothing about editing or shooting really. Watching and listening to myself on camera for the first time was quite the experience. I learned to laugh at how bad I was and still am at things like vlogging. That was the only way for me to cope with my failure-fear. Turns out, people still read this blog, comment on my photos, and watch my vlogs.
In order to be moderately good at something, you have to suck at it first.
That popular YouTuber? They had to YouTube how to use all the features in Adobe Premiere Pro once or twice or a thousand times.
That travel blogger? They were rejected by companies for years before they got any paid vacation.
Oprah? She was fired from her first job.
So you know what- failure is awesome. Failure means you’re trying and trying means you’re creating opportunities for yourself. Every time you fail you have a chance to get up, dust yourself off and do it again. For every 10 people that say no, there’s one person who will say yes. So run. Run fast, straight at every opportunity you think might be a wall.
- The more you mess up, the more you will learn.
- The more things you throw at the wall, the more chances you have for something to stick.
- Laugh at how much you suck and people will laugh with you.
- Get your heart broken and choose to try out the love thing again and again and again.
- You fail a friendship (or they fail you), apologize, and forgive immediately.
Every extraordinary person in their field once sucked at what they do. Don’t be afraid to be bad in the beginning.
Embrace the suck.
Oh that adventure thing that instagrammers do so well. It’s hard for me to believe anymore. It’s not reality. Sometimes the people who mean to “inspire” and uplift actually leave their audiences feeling like they aren’t adventurous enough and they should be doing MORE all the time.
I’m calling bull on that narrative.
I’m in Mississauga, Ontario sitting in a Starbucks eating a bagel which I smuggled in from Tim Hortons (because it’s so much cheaper) writing this. I’m not on a plane, I’m not on a mountain. My phone is off and Spotify is on. I have a notebook opened beside me with scribbles about future roadtrip thoughts, which may or may not happen and there’s a man my age in front of me with a sketchbook full of equations that look like sorcery.
Is this what you thought a person like me would be doing on a Tuesday afternoon?
If you looked at my Instagram, probably not. If you know me well, still, probably not. But to be honest, I love this. I love writing, I love sitting and observing people.
I appreciate that adventure is not reaching every sunrise and sunset you can. In fact, driving at 4 am on 3 hours of sleep is actually really dangerous, who knew?
Adventure is completely relative to what you love, what you fear and how motivated you can be.
Adventure does not have to be travelling all the time, adventure is not starting blogs or vlogs or whatever else gives people public recognition. Adventure is not necessarily climbing mountains all the time, contrary to what we see online. For people who’ve been hiking their whole life, long hikes are routines not adventures, ones that now come with crowded trails and six-foot long selfie sticks blocking the views (I kid you not, these actually exist).
People who choose to learn/do/feel something new every day. That’s adventurous. Taking care of yourself in the process plays just as big of a role.
So you want to know how to feel adventurous every day?
Try dropping the phone.
Spend 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, maybe even a whole day without looking at it. The world is so much bigger and way more beautiful than the one you see online. It will be uncomfortable but set your intentions with it very early on. If you’re not used to life without a phone or computer to keep you occupied then you may be in for the biggest adventure of your life just by putting it away.
Learn about the people creating influential businesses.
Listen to influential podcasts, watch TED talks by entrepreneurs that you’ve come across and that you admire. Ask questions to people who have created something real. Here are a couple of my favourite podcasts to start you off. My Favourite Murder, S-Town, Strangers, Accidental Creative, and TED Radio Hour.
Take a risk every day.
You don’t have to jump off a bridge. A risk is just something that’s uncomfortable but doable. Try out a new workout class. Get your heart rate high and keep it there. Push yourself to a state of mind that’s new and let your breath tell you when it’s time for rest. Learn phrases in a new language. Try to make a new dish every day for a week. Learn how to build a piece of furniture. Compliment a stranger. Whatever it may be, it will be new, it will feel weird, you will have to read things, you may fail and have to start over but you will finish it.
Adventure means you have to stop with the convenient stuff.
Convenient friends, convenient jobs. You have to be the one to reach out to people who think like you and love like you. Surround yourself with them. Say no to the people who make you feel like you or your life are worth less than them. Just because an opportunity presents itself doesn’t mean that it’s right for you so set a high standard for yourself and your work.
And finally, write down the things you want to do and start ticking them off the list!
Rent a cottage with 10 friends. Learn to wakeboard. Get a tattoo. Search for the Northern Lights. Learn to love your body. Fall in love with someone else. Volunteer at wildlife sanctuaries. Teach in a different country. Visit the places you’ve always wanted to visit. Learn the history of the places you go, learn the environmental, social obstacles and make the list for YOU not “the gram”. Whatever is on your list, pick a date, and GO.
Your adventurous life may not be climbing mountains; your adventure may be finding a way to cope with your anxiety or in changing someone’s life, multiple people maybe?
I hope so.
I’m an anxious person. I’ve known that for a long time.
Back in highschool I started noticing that I was worrying about things I knew were small. They paralyzed me. Tossing and turning in bed all night mulling over small criticisms, thinking about what people thought of me for hours, comparing myself to others and crying all night because I didn’t feel like I would ever measure up to them.
When I went to University it just about ruined me.
I became scared of myself. Scared of my own anxiety. Everything at that age is harder than ever before. I was away from home, the expense of school made the stakes to do well that much greater, it was easy to stay in and watch Netflix all day so that’s what I did. Leaving the computer screen became a chore and staying up all night with a mind that raced became routine.
I’m a pretty spiritual person so when I was drained of my faith in University it led me to cling to people that were wrong for me. When I wasn’t relying on others to keep me occupied, I was consumed by my phone. That’s a battle I still fight today.
Then life sent me to the mountains.
The first time I went, I didn’t really hike. My SO and I went for the photos. The trip was exciting because we were seeing all of these cool places that our favourite grammers had photographed but it was completely unfulfilling for me. I left with photos of places that I didn’t really work hard to get to and the effects of social media became real. I was always comparing myself to photographers that had 5-10 years more experience than I had and I knew I never intended to be a photographer professionally. So why the heck was I worrying about it? I still don’t know the answer. But I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted.
It was the next time, in 2016, that changed me. I had a new job working for an event company across Canada and it sent me to Calgary. I was anxious before I went as I always am before I travel (I’ve never been able to shake that completely). I was worrying about what camera equipment I had and how I was going to fit all of the experiences into only a few days. I thought I didn’t like hiking at the time but decided to get myself some solid gear and tackle some big ones anyways with a couple friends.
So I did it. Twin Falls, Tower of Babel, and Mount Bourgeau. They were monstrous hikes for a newbie. I was huffing and puffing with no time to pick up my camera or my phone and found myself consumed by deep conversations with the people around me. I felt my anxiety subsiding. Within the trees where service was scarce, silence was abundant and the inclines were steep as hell, I felt something new. I almost want to call it peace. With a bit of gratitude, maybe.
There’s something spiritual about nature. No one cares about you out there.
The mountains speak their own language. Every sunrise brings a new day with a million more opportunities. It was in the deep forest on the mountain side where I discovered the ability to be alone with my own thoughts and enjoy them. I had an independent purpose on those hikes that I controlled. Sometimes to get to the top, sometimes to get there fast. During each hike I thought about something deeper than the photos, school worries, or what my friends were doing.
I found what my soul was begging me for and it led me to quiet places of reflection and understanding in the dirt.
The utter focus of reaching a summit for sunrise actually quieted my anxiety. Nature saved me from overwhelm. Instead of worrying if I would make it, I just made it. I suddenly expected so much more of my heart. I discovered that my value came from my actions and my words in person, not my image online.
Not to mention, my body thanked me for all the exercise. At home, I’d be sitting around twiddling my thumbs dwelling on what everyone else was doing- but in the outdoors, I was sweaty, determined, with extra rosy cheeks, I was thankful and I was content with exactly where I was in life. Finally.
This post was written in partnership with Live Out There, an outdoor apparel company set on sending folks like you on incredible adventures with all of the right gear.
If you’re thinking about going to South East Asia, do it. Just go and don’t look back. Once you step off the plane and you’re hit with the humidity you won’t want to, trust me.
I went to South East Asia on a student exchange and stayed until my money ran out. I covered Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Bali, and Malaysia. I learned more about myself during those 5 months than I had my whole life. I mean DEEP things, the things that changed my heart. At the expense of a relationship, arguably two of them, I found that being alone wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I was in love with it. Looking back, here are the personal lessons I learned in South East Asia and that I encourage you to find out for yourself.
I can do this thing.
When you are forced to navigate a foreign world by yourself, you will do it! In order to travel solo or travel to a new place with another person for that matter, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I was suddenly aware of what made me jump for joy and what I really hated. It was finally possible for me to shape my world into exactly what I wanted it to be, every day.
No one cares what you do and that’s the truth.
If you’re like me, Asia is a long way from home. So all that matters is how you feel when you do things each day. When you realize that you never have to do anything that makes you feel like shit it’s kind of powerful. That includes the companies you choose to work for and where you choose to spend your time and money. I said a hard no to the Tiger Temple, I said no to the Killing Fields and I happily said no to elephant riding. I am sure I will exercise the right to deny things I don’t agree with many times in my life because of this experience.
What other people think doesn’t matter at all. Ever.
This was a huge revelation for me. Before I left for Asia, I always compared myself to others and I always came up short. Instead of letting those comparisons motivate me, I judged myself harshly. It destroyed a relationship and only increased my anxiety x10,000. In Asia, a triumph wasn’t getting an A on a paper or 1000 likes on Instagram. It was successfully communicating the location of your hostel to a cab driver. It was walking through the Mossy Forest in Malaysia in the rain and fog, knee deep in mud because you only have a weekend and you really really want to make the most of it. It was getting to your bus on time when you’re hitchhiking with two other people and luggage. I wasn’t comparing myself to my peers anymore. I was confident in what I was doing and frankly, I was having too much fun to think about anyone else.
People are amazing, show them a little grace.
Be a good human and you will get goodness back. Try to communicate even if you think you can’t. Toss a smile, give high fives to the locals, talk to people in your hostel and say THANK YOU a lot. I am forever indebted to the local communities that welcomed my friends and I into their homes, ceremonies, and cars (yes, we hitchhiked a lot).
Working and travelling is way easier than you think.
I came so close to snagging a job at one of the hostels. Hostels are hiring all the time. The cool thing about Asia is that it is dirt cheap. The initial flight there may be a doozy but once you’re there you can survive on 200 Baht a day. That’s 8 CAD. Working at a hostel for a few months on the most beautiful island in Thailand sounds like a pretty good gig and people do it all the time jumping from hostel to hostel until their life calls them elsewhere. Not to mention, it’s the tech age. If a life of travel is calling to you, get on your computer and find a remote job already.
Ready to start planning? See my Quick Guide to Thailand for everything you need to know about island hopping on a budget!
Oh the good ole quarter-life crisis. It hits all of us at one point during our twenties. Sometimes multiple times where you suddenly have no idea what direction you’re headed and you don’t know if you’re going to like where you end up.
Welcome to every other person’s life.
Over the last 4 years I’ve lost myself in relationships and lost myself in technology. I thought I wanted to be in advertising, and then a pediatrician and then lawyer. Now I’m on to tourism and PR. I still haven’t figured it out.
WE ARE ALL LOST
It’s paralyzing sometimes and lonely, but the best thing you can do is keep on moving. Even if you don’t know where you’re headed, do something. Start something.
In Asia, I met people who were flying by the seat of their pants when it came to doing things. When they felt a need to go somewhere, they went. When they saw a need that required them to stay and work, they stayed. When they saw an opportunity to talk to someone, they did so. They viewed everything they wished to do in life as fully attainable. It was inspiring. The more they jumped at opportunities, the more opportunities presented themselves. So I began to form a habit of saying yes to new opportunities and talked myself INTO scary and psycho experiences when mostly people talk themselves out of them.
98% of our obstacles are made up in our minds
That’s why the odds of doing/starting something brand new are against us and why it’s so damn scary to think about. Not to mention, you’ll want to ask for advice and you’ll get all types of misguided and doubtful opinions. Those people are projecting on to you what they doubt in themselves. I had a conversation once with a friend’s parent about what I wanted to do with my life. I said my only criteria was that I didn’t want a 9-5 job. They laughed out loud and told me I should come back to reality!?!?! I laughed back. They obviously had no idea about the kind of person I was.
Ignore everyone’s opinions and start whatever the thing is that you want to start.
It will be weird and you will be pushed way outside of your comfort zone. Heck, you might not have any of the qualifications and you may have zero experience but I guarantee, whatever your thing is, there is room for you to do it and do it big.
The best part is, you have so much power right now.
Feeling totally lost means you can choose absolutely any direction and you have nothing to lose. It takes courage to start doing something. People will notice. The places you find yourself will be wonderful.
You just have to DO IT.
Choose a thing and do it.