Scrolling through my Instagram feed, it doesn’t take long for my thumb to rest on an image. My eyes focusing on a distant snow-capped peak. The sky is clear, and in the foreground of mirrored ice cracking ever-so-perfectly, a figure in a yellow coat (probably expensive and manufactured in some heavenly Scandinavian country) runs towards the horizon.
First thought: why the hell is this guy running on ice?
Second thought: still beats the hell out of my day.
I purse my lips, inhale a shallow breath and scroll on, coming to another in a matter of seconds. This time, a moody-hued image displays bare-chested man giving a cackling blonde a piggyback whilst steam from a hot spring in the background obscures half the frame. Again, sharp inhale, eye roll so slight it’s undetectable to the naked eye, double-tap, scroll on. After a few minutes of this torture, I finally close the app to re-focus on the spreadsheet of data I’m auditing on the computer screen in front of me, officially feeling 1000 times worse about my life.
Now, before you ask, I know that defeatism is not the purpose of Instagram. I follow some mind-blowingly talented photographers for no reason other than to be inspired and delighted by the imagery they put forth into the world through Instagram. I love seeing the edits, the angles, the gear list in the caption, even the rad places that I sometimes pull up on Google maps just to see how far the drive would be. I truly admire these people who, with a mastered craft and established following, fly to Iceland to photograph a black-sand beach elopement, seemingly live at the base of Half Dome, or hopscotch around European cities like their life is an endless recess. As a photographer and travel enthusiast myself, I really do try my best to feel energized by the incredible images in my feed. And sometimes it works.
But other days, these images lead me straight into a pity party of one, where I ask myself questions like, “how will I ever reach that level? Afford to go there? Be granted an opportunity like that?” Some days, I feel like I’m so far from the amazing experiences those people are having that I might as well take a nap for the rest of eternity. I’ll never get to go there, and my photos will never look like that, so why bother?
I might be completely alone in this, but something tells me I’m not. Jealousy and defeat are universal emotions. I also know that there are a hell of a lot of other people on Instagram liking these pictures – people just like me, working 9-5 jobs with a constant desire for more adventure and excitement.
I’m ready to stop letting Instagram kill my adventure vibe, and maybe you are too. Why am I letting it turn me into some green-eyed monster, sitting puffy-vested in an office chair, hair bound in messy top-knot, scrolling violently through a social media app, forgetting to live her own life?
Our adventures matter, too!
So you’re not in Patagonia taking a selfie in front of the Torres del Paine with a llama, or drinking spiked hot cocoa from a thermos as you casually photograph Half Dome when the light is just right and Horsetail Fall looks like streaming liquid gold. Maybe none of your friends are willing to trek five miles out to that hot spring in December just so you can get that perfect misty shot. But! Did you venture outside recently? Did you take your pup on a walk to that park down the block? Go snowshoeing with friends? See a rare bird outside your kitchen window? Take a road trip to that ghost town you’ve always wanted to visit or hike that trail you and your friends always talk about?
These experiences are and unique to you and cannot be replicated. Hopefully, they made you feel alive in a way that scrolling through your feed does not. And I’ll bet you were left with memories that will last a hell of a lot longer than your Instagram account. Those photographs you took? They’re worth something to you, even if you didn’t get 12k likes on them. And you might be back at work on Monday morning like me but, as long as we keep chasing our passion in real life, and not through a screen, that passion will never burn out.
Here are some ways we can restore, re-ignite or indulge our damaged Adventure Vibes:
- Challenge yourself to take a 24-hour Insta-break. Delete the app, unbend your scroll thumb, return your neck to its upright, locked position and prepare for takeoff.
- Go adventure somewhere. It doesn’t have to be by plane, an overnight, or use more than a tank of gas. Google is a marvelous tool for finding hiking trails, campgrounds, open spaces, wilderness areas, national parks, or the World’s Largest Pistachio.
- Re-visit old adventures. You know those pictures on your phone? Yeah, the ones you take exhaustively in the moment and then ALWAYS forget to look at/print/share/post? Go look at them! Marvel at your own adventures, travels, and experiences. I bet they’re pretty sweet.
- Start a project or try a hobby that’s always interested you. Everyone’s got at least one thing they’ve always wanted to try but have been hesitant because life is hard and new things can be scary. But what are you really waiting for? The time is now!
- Study a map. Not one on a screen – a paper one, tangible and laid out on the table in front of you. This is the atlas I own. Discover new country roads, recreation areas and the names and elevations of those peaks you’ve always wondered about. Maps are absolutely fascinating and beautiful! Bonus: map reading is a top-notch adventure skill to possess.
Alas, most of us will not get to fly to Bali next week for a yoga retreat. But that’s okay. It really is. Wanderlust need not be reserved for the Far Away, and you sure as hell don’t need a permission slip to explore the world around you, learn, or create something new! The opportunity for adventure is hiding in everyday life, and you can find it so long as you pull yourself away from wallowing in the flood of Cool Shit You’re Not Doing.