They say that life starts when you step out of your comfort zone. Well, my comfort zone consists of air conditioning, Insta-worthy latte art and a charged phone at all times. So, when the opportunity to ditch the beach and go on a Spring Break camping trip arose last year, I was hesitant to find out what living among the wild things was like.
Turns out it was life-changing.
It’s cheesy – I know. But, ask my friends. When I got home, after going days without social media and minimal interaction with anyone other than a few friends, they thought whatever psychedelics we might’ve gotten into hadn’t worn off. (Mom Disclaimer: No, I didn’t actually do any drugs.)
The only thing I had tried was something new, and that was more than enough to make me come back “enlightened” – as my friends liked to joke – and question the life I wanted to lead.
Since I was a preteen, I dreamed of moving to New York City and living a fast-paced life filled with grandeur and luxury. I loved the non-stop exhilaration that came along with hustling at a cool writing job Monday through Friday and train-hopping all over the city on the weekends.
Camping was the exact opposite of that. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything special. We were only gone for about a week, travelling from the clear blue waters of the Keys to the amazingly serene (and buggy) Everglades. We had a fridge, bathrooms, an entire trailer of supplies, etc. We were “backcountry bougie.”
But that was enough to get me out of my comfort zone and teach me a lot about myself. For example, my friend needed tinder (for a fire) and the only thing that came to my mind was that there are better ways to find a date than through an app. I was clueless about things like tent pitching and basic survival techniques.
I’d traveled plenty before, but this was different. More so than the family trips with hotel rooms and pre-planned itineraries, it gave me a fresh perspective on life. I was forced to slow down and appreciate things I tended to overlook. And that’s what’s at the heart of an adventure – no matter how “out there” or not it may seem.
Life-changing moments aren’t always fireworks and light-bulbs all around. My “revelation” wasn’t even in the moment; it wasn’t until I had to acclimate to my everyday routine again that I noticed something in me had changed.
I realized I liked being away from my phone, disconnected and not having to worry about being somewhere to impress someone out of my way. I loved how quiet the world was when I was away. I had fallen in love with the exact opposite of what I grew up dreaming of.
Now, a year after the fact, I still think about the camping and going back (Fun fact: I’m camping this Spring Break too.) It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the allure of the city. But as of now, spending months on the road in a decked out van sounds a lot better than any amount of time in a shoebox apartment trapped in a high-rise.
All-in-all, I’m appreciative for that trip. I could’ve gone and hated it, only validating that the city was the place for me. But instead, it showed me an alternate route and saved me a lot of time, money and life.
So, whether getting out of your comfort zone only requires a three-hour long road trip or involves a plane and a different language, take the risk. I promise it’s worth it.
Featured image by Alexis Paige