Quite often people tell me that they think I’m cool or/and adventurous. The word I am trying to find here is “stoer” in Dutch but I can’t really think of a good English translation. I don’t think there is one. When I used google translate, sturdy came up as the word to use. However, when I think of sturdy, I think of hiking boots. Or a really big, firm woman. Me on the other hand, I am not like that. I just pretend to be sturdy, or like to pretend.
Today’s Confessions of a Travel Blogger will be about the female me combined with the outdoor-girl me. Because really, you can be into the whole outdoor thing and still be a normal female. Or what’s considered a normal female. Meaning without armpit hair and wearing something other than an oversized sweatpants.
Whenever I say I’m going camping in the wilderness, I hear other girls say things such as:
“What, no shower? No way!”
“What? How do I do my make up?”
And then they will make a face that indicates they are disgusted. Or that they could never do that. Well, I grew up learning “never say never” so I will never say I could never do that. Got me?
Even though some of you (especially the ultra females) will think I’m adventurous and cool, I have to admit I’m not really. Here’s ten reasons why I am not really that cool and yet very much a female. I’m quite sure it will ruin my reputation but guess what, I don’t care.
1. I’m afraid of water
Being in a kayak or canoe makes me very uncomfortable and I barely ever go swimming unless I have to. When I hopped into a canoe in Finland two weeks ago my first thought was “OMG, I’m gonna die”. Ofcourse I was’t (because really, the Finnish lakes are large but not that dangerous, at least, not where I was) and I turned out to be fine. However after sitting on a wooden board for an hour my bum hurted like mad. So yes, as a typical female, I complained about that when stepping out. Luckily I gained some weight over the past months so there was some fat to protect my precious bones.
2. I do wear make up every day
Even when on a multi day trek without showers and flush toilets. As I mentioned once before, I’m a blonde by origin and my eyebrows are white. Whenever I don’t give them some color in the morning, people around me will either think I’m sick or a zombie. I don’t want to get pictured like that. Yes, I care about looks. And so should you!
3. I get very cranky when I can’t eat properly
A couple of years ago I met another “outdoor chick” who told me she’s only happy outdoors when those 3 things are right: she had to be warm, dry and fed. Out of those, only the last one is truly important to me. I have a tight routine when it comes to eating. No matter how much (or little) breakfast I eat, I always need a snack at 10-11 am. If I don’t, I get hungry and if I get hungry, I get cranky. I litterally dragged kilos of chocolate on the Inca Trail because I was afraid I’d get hungry. Of course I never ate them but still, I always carry enough to make sure I won’t get hungry. So does Martijn, he hates me when I’m hungry.
4. I’m always cold. ALWAYS
If I could change one thing about myself, it would be that I’d like to be warmer at most times. Because basically, I’m always cold. No matter how many layers I wear, I won’t get warm if it’s colder than let’s say 10 degrees outside. I can easily spend hours awake at night in my bed because my feet are cold. Luckily I found out that my Nalgene water bottle can hold boiled water so when really cold while camping, it works perfectly as a heat source in my sleeping bag. However, I’m always the first to go “to bed” when camping, just because I’m cold…
5. I’m afraid of walking on ridges
At least, when the track is very narrow and the drop is deep. Even though I’ve got no fear of heights, I don’t like steep drop offs. The idea of falling scares me. It probably has to do with the time I was (again) on the Inca Trail and because of fatigue, I accidentally fell down from the trail into the abyss. Luckily it wasn’t deep but it totally scared me that something like that could happen at any time … ever since I’ve become more careful when hiking at narrow places. And yes, Martijn sometimes needs to give me his hand for me to be able to proceed … *shame*
6. I carry my day- and night cream with me on each trail I walk
Yes, each trail, each day. My skin is not particularly flawless and gets worse when not taken care of. Luckily, I have tiny jars where I can put enough cream in for about 2 weeks. I gladly carry that in my backpack, even if every gram counts.
7. Bears scare me
During our bear encounter in Yellowstone, I did what I shouldn’t have done. Which is running away. OK, we didn’t exactly run, but it wasn’t a slow pace either. Let’s say we walked really fast. It happened in the spur of a moment and as it was a young bear only, we figured momma would be around too. Of course I know we shouldn’t have turned our backs on it but hey, it happened. And we’re alive and OK…
8. I hate it when a piece of nailpolish comes off during a trek
I like to give my nails a colorful layer. Not only because I like to live a colorful life, but also because I don’t take care of my nails (no time, no interest) so painting them is the best way to hide that. However I hate it when a piece of nailpolish comes off. I usually wear it but (surprise!) don’t bring the polish on a trip. So what happens is that my nails look completely horrible after a week or so… not very feminine!
9. Skiing sounds cool but I’m not a fan of ski lifts
Imagine a small girl on a skislope in Austria, surrounded by strangers and unable to understand any language other than Dutch. Then imagine this girl being pushed into a drag lift, loosing her balance and being pulled over the snow up to the hill. Now imagine, that girl is me. Yes, this truly happened. Now I can laugh about it but back then, it wasn’t so much fun. Since then, I swore never to use a drag lift anymore. Of course I’ve had to because I still go skiing every now and then, but it will never become a hobby. Chairlifts however are really cool!
10. Do I really need to embarrass myself more?
Guess not. What I’m trying to point out with this post is that we all have fears and that you should not be afraid be open about them. To acknowledge it’s there and speak up about it.
Oh btw, I forgot one, which is my fear of snakes. We have them in The Netherlands but only saw them once. We do have giant worms though (kind of snake-like) and whenever I see one I’m like “eeeeeeek” and I run away.
So, why would people think I’m cool while I’m not at all? You tell me! I think it has to do with my courage. I won’t say I’m the bravest person in the world, but I’ve done many things that I was afraid of. I’ve gone bungy-jumping, jumped off a plane, crossed wild rivers by foot, still go skiing every year, had a snake around my neck, occasionally go sea-kayaking and still try to climb some mountains. Why do I do it? Because I can. Because I truly believe that trying those things that I am afraid of will make me a stronger person. Do I like them? Not always! Ever since I almost got swept away by a glacial river in Iceland I refuse to do river crossings that are deeper than my knees. I know my limits and am not afraid to say no. On the other side, even though we knew there are (rattle) snakes all over the US, we still went wilderness camping and hiking while they could have been just around the corner.
An important lesson I learned is to not care about what others think of me. So what if people think I’m ridiculous for wearing make up each day. Or for being afraid of water (or snakes, or drag lifts… lol) … I learned that the people who are pointing fingers, are usually those that live the most unadventurous life of all. They live their lives as a bunch of couch potatoes rather than finding their boundaries in life. So ladies, don’t be embarrased anymore and be yourself. You can be a female and be adventurous!
So, what’s your fear? Have you tried to overcome it?
Missed the first Confessions of a Travel Blogger? Click here to read it!
This post is a part of the Sunday Social Travel Talk series… each Sunday we’ll tell you something about a personal / private travel related topic. Go here to read the previous posts!