I follow 63mph.com. This dude travels in his van and prefers to sleep in remote areas where there are no people. He does this alone. His stories are wonderful. I also follow the blogs of a bunch of other people that are also solo nomads, both men and women, and they, too, park in remote areas by themselves to sleep for the night.
I couldn’t do this when I was living in the dolphin. On the nights I was alone, I only ever slept in neighborhoods, campgrounds, parking lots or driveways. Not once did I venture out alone down an empty forest road or pull out alongside a river to sleep for the night by myself. I would love to be able to do this, but it doesn’t sound fun to me. It sounds horrible.
I realized I want to want to be able to sleep in the dolphin parked in the wilderness without a soul around, but I don’t really want to do that. If there is a camp host or fellow campers, sure, but to go out in the middle of nowhere alone? No thanks. I’m too chicken. And I learned that dirty lesson pretty quickly during my time in the dolphin. I need a partner for those kinds of adventures.
SO I AM NOT A BADASS 😦
At some point, I started equating this ability to sleep alone in the wilderness with complete badass-ness, which it is. But I also started to think that the inability to do this meant the opposite of badass-ness. To my dismay, I came to some weird conclusion that I’m not a badass because I can’t sleep in the dolphin by myself without any people around, as though that’s the only way I could ever qualify to be in the club. It’s like it didn’t matter what I was doing; it only mattered what I was not doing.
“Well I’m not like so-and-so, sleeping under the stars on top of a mountain all by myself, so I can’t really earn my badge of honor. I can’t be a nomad. I can’t consider myself a real nature-lover. Oh, and also, I’m an effing wimp.”
Yah, I let myself feel bad about this. In an “I should be doing that” kind of way. “I should be sleeping in the middle of the desert all alone like that one chick! How does she do that?!”
SOCIAL MEDIA, LIFE-ENVY + HUMAN PROGRESSION
Blogging and instagraming and networking are enabling us to reach each other, and encourage and inspire each other. We look to each other for motivation to push forward into the best version of ourselves. We read blogs that interest us and we find DIY tutorials and we learn and we pick up the latest trends or apps that make life easy and yada yada.
But we also must be careful because we run the risk of becoming too consumed with what others are doing. Too much focus on what is happening in the lives of others via their instagram or blog or facebook can lead us to subconsciously lose sight of who should be defining the things we should and shouldn’t like or the way we should or shouldn’t be.
Social media doesn’t help our human tendency to feel a bit of life-envy. You see someone living the kind of life you think you want, and then you feel bad about yourself for not doing the same kinds of things they’re doing, even though you might not actually want to really do them.
The web allows us to tune in to a pocket of a person’s life, and it’s the pocket they are choosing to show. No matter how happy we are and how great our lives are, we are humans. And we are dreamers and we are storytellers. There is always something more. And we aren’t telling the story of the lives we are living; we are telling the story of the lives we want to live.
Part of me thinks this is terrible because it means we are living in the future, but a larger and more optimistic part of me thinks that this is what stirs the hope-strings of humanity and pushes us forward into progression, ultimately allowing us to collectively evolve into a better version of our species. It just requires balance and constant awareness.
I look at the photos someone posted of their morning alone out in the middle of nowhere and it stirs a part of me that wants that, but then I remind myself that there are many (MANY) long hours of darkness that precede that romantic sunrise. And I don’t like those nights of fear. I don’t want them. And suddenly I don’t feel bad that I didn’t have that sunrise, because there is always more to it than that.
Now, more than ever, I think we need to continuously ask ourselves why we are wanting what we want and doing what we do. We must ask ourselves if this is what we actually want and need and believe, or if it’s something that we are falling for. Is it really our thing or are we believing it’s our thing because everyone that we connect with and identify with is doing that too.
Many of you in marketing or the blogging world are probably familiar with the concept of tribes. I have become quite the fan of Seth Godin and his work in this area. Check out this fabulous TED Talk for better insight into this topic, or the following might not make complete sense.
I completely believe in and agree with everything that Godin says in this video.
It’s easier than ever to find the people we connect with and identify with. And then we follow those people. We get to see all of their photos or read about their ideas or find out which recipe they made or which jacket they bought or why this is good or that is not. Hell, you’re reading this here blog right now.
And if we identify with these people and connect with them, we start to equate certain actions with certain definitions. Everyone that is like me does this or wears that or believes in this, and it feels good because we are a part of something that we agree with. We trust each other because we are like-minded with similar interests and beliefs. It’s something that makes sense.
I think there is a line that can be crossed though. A line between “I-do-and-like-these-things-so-therefore-am-a-part-of-this-tribe” and “I-am-a-part-of-this-tribe-so-therefore-I-do-and-like-these-things.” These have two very different meanings.
Suddenly we are modeling our own lives off of the people in our tribe, and then berating ourselves if we don’t measure up to the standards that we didn’t even set for ourselves. And that’s when “following” in the online sense of the word becomes “following” in the sheep sense of the word. (It’s also when tribe turns to cult…jk)
So the key is to not just follow; it’s also to lead.
We shouldn’t feel bad if we aren’t doing the things people in our tribe are doing or the way they are doing it. A tribe isn’t set in stone, and we can move in and out of tribes as we please. The blending of tribes creates a completely different tribe, and then another and another.
I shouldn’t feel like I quit the nomadic tribe just because I decided I wanted a home. Sure, I identify with the nomads. But I also identify with the scaredy-cats that don’t want sleep by themselves in the mighty wildnerness! 😉 And the homesteaders that like to work on things in their workshop and tend to their yards and bake shit. And the walkers and hikers and writers and weirdos. I need to always remember to live my idea of what I actually want to be, not what I think I should be. I don’t need to prove myself by sleeping somewhere by myself, or doing anything else for that matter. Kudos to the people that can do it – I think you’re awesome. And to those that cannot, myself included – who the hell cares?!
OKAY… I AM A BADASS AFTERALL. AND SO ARE YOU.
I am a badass for different reasons, all my own. And so are you! We all are, for our own reasons. It’s time to create our own guidelines about who we are. Let’s get inspired and motivated and encouraged by the people we choose to “follow”, but let us then step out and lead our own way to find what is right for us. We have to remain true to ourselves.
Maybe it’s time to loosen the definitions of who we think we are and who we want to be, or perhaps do away with the definitions altogether. We need authentic people painting their lives based on their own standards and their own truth and their own wants. Based on who they really are, not who they think they should be or what everyone else is. Let’s be what we are, rather than what we think we should be. And let’s want what we want because we actually want it, rather than because we want to want it or think we should.
Do you, and as long as it is pure and true and kind and right, then you cannot go wrong.
And one of my favorite quotes from my favorite essays, “Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and if we follow the truth it will bring us out safe at last.—But so may you give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me and do the same thing.”