Overcoming Adventure Envy

Adventure-Envy-Trey-Ratcliff

You know that feeling. The one you get in the pit of your stomach, usually brought on by a glimpse of something spectacular: a tropical beach, a medieval castle, a hidden temple, or an aerial landscape view from a helicopter. In short, a glimpse at someone else’s adventure.

It’s never fun turning into the green-eyed monster. But sometimes it’s hard to avoid. The voice inside nags at you, “But I want to go lay on that beach. And I want to visit the castle, and the temple, and ride in a helicopter!” It’s an annoying little bugger, that voice. But it’s there all the same.

Admittedly, I don’t have much room to complain here. I am 2 weeks off the boat (or plane, in this case) in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world. Just look at that photo above!! It’s of the mountains near Queenstown, and was taken by Trey Ratcliff, an accomplished photographer whose skills I don’t even dream of matching (and yes, I’m envious). I did buy a DSLR specifically for this trip, but I can assure you, my photos won’t look like that!

Do you ever look at someone else’s photos, or social media feed or blog or whatever, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing that too? The internet and social media has opened the doors to breaking down boundaries and exploring the work in a whole new way. It also, however, has created the platform for harsh comparisons. Too many people look at the leaders of their respective fields and get this feeling of inadequacy – like they somehow don’t measure up. I myself have been attempting to interact with a popular Instagram account (which will remain nameless) because I can see from his feed that he is in the same area as me. As in the very same little island in New Zealand, on the same weekend. Would be a cool chance to cross paths, no? Isn’t that why many of us are on social media in the first place? To connect? Well, apparently not. In spite of my repeated attempts, this person continued to ignore me. Guess my feed wasn’t “adventurous” enough for his globe-trotting ways (plus I must concede it would be difficult sorting through so many comments on each post – what a problem to have).

I bring up this story because it plays into the concept of adventure envy. I may not be pitching tents out under the stars and getting up before dawn for amazing photo shoots, but I’m still having an adventure. I’m living in a brand new city, in a brand new country, all the way across the world. What does it matter that I have a comfy bed in a quiet studio apartment with a hot shower every night?

I think the key to overcoming adventure envy is to realize that there are many different styles of adventurer. Not all of us are going to be a Trey Ratcliff, or a Chris Burkard, or a luxury travel writer jetting off to one exotic location after another. But that doesn’t make our adventures less important. Or less meaningful.

So go out there. Take crappy photos with your iPhone, or blurry ones with your DSLR still on automatic mode. Who cares. This is your adventure.

Because that is the truth in which the truly adventurous spirits lies – the ability to strike out independently, and do it as no one else has ever done before. And you’ll be doing it on your own terms.

{Image by Trey Ratcliff}

  • I feel you on the anti-social social media users. Some folks are really good at making that connection and developing the discussion, and others are just in it for the likes or to spread whatever it is they’re trying to sell, whether for themselves or through sponsored posts. Because of that, these days I’m a lot less likely to follow an Instagrammer who has a zillion followers because the chance of having an interaction or discussion are probably about nil.

    As for the rest, I think everyone gets bitten by the green monster every now and then looking at all the great content there is out there, but I try to let it inspire me. I try to look at the pictures and posts and think, hey, I CAN do that, and I want to do that because that person took the time to take that picture and share it. It lets me look at things with a little more gratitude. It doesn’t always work, but it helps πŸ˜€

    • That’s completely true about the big accounts – so many of them have tens of thousands of followers, and then only follow about 200 people. I do have one friend on there whose account blew up after he was featured by Instagram, but he is super good at interacting with people on there. And that’s really appreciated by us smaller accounts out there!

      The green-eyed monster is like the story of two wolves that live inside each of us – the wolf you feed is the one that wins. I love your approach of using great content to inspire. Because really, you can choose how you react to things, by either letting it get you down or using it as motivation to improve yourself. As long as you don’t fall into the trap of harsh self-comparison. Gratitude, positivity and appreciation are key!! πŸ™‚

  • Adina Marguerite

    Well said Amy! Sometimes I find Instagram the worst for this – especially looking at those accounts with thousands of followers and perfectly curated imagery of beautiful adventures in all the places I wish I could spend the majority of my time in.

    I do my best to remind myself that while it’s just not who I am – I get to have plenty of my own awesome adventures. I’m also a person with diverse interests and my Instagram stream would never be so perfectly curated – because then it wouldn’t be me!

    • Thank you Adina!! Instagram is the worst for this, I agree. I think part of the problem is the nature of the platform itself – it is impossible to follow thousands and thousands of people and still be able to flick through your feed and see everything! Posts have a longer shelf life than Twitter, and I just gave up on trying to keep up with the tweets from every single person I follow lol.

      I like to curate my account to be visually pleasing, partly due to my design background and partly due to when it’s clean, it feels better to me. And I’m more inspired by my own feed, which is the most important thing really! It’s funny seeing all the amazing shots of New Zealand too – I want to see all these places, and take all those shots, but I know I’ll never be able to duplicate them, and that’s fine. It will be my take on my individual experience, and that’s the best scenario anyways. πŸ™‚

  • I agree that we all create our own adventures!! Whether it be doing something new in your hometown or ride a helicopter! We shouldn’t compare our adventure to someone else’s who has more money or who gets them sponsored (though I admit I’m totally jealous of people who do amazing things for free…. grrrr). What’s important is that we continue to find happiness no matter in what way!

    About Instagram and other blogs… I find the smaller accounts/blogs to be SO much more interesting because the people will actually take the time to build a connection with you, and that’s what all this should be about! It sucks when the “popular” ones stop responding to comments once they get bigger. It’s just rude!

    • Thank you Anna! I have yet to go on a sponsored adventure myself – maybe one day lol. Although usually I do have a somewhat “free” adventure because I go visit friends and stay with them! It works as a solo traveler too because then I at least have people around to do things with.

      And Instagram… it’s so true. And yet I find myself trying to keep the number of who I follow small, not because I don’t love people’s pictures, but because I simply can’t keep up with that many people! And I like to make sure I see the photos from people I connect with. So my criteria for following is more social, but it does get hard to manage. The super big accounts with 40,000 + followers though, I usually don’t bother.

  • Molly S

    This is so true! It’s too easy to get drawn into comparisons and jealousy and feeling inadequate – travel and adventure shouldn’t be about the numbers or the “bigness” of a trip. It’s about discovering things about the world yourself, and doing things your way! And about the blogs / social media……I tend to find that I get better interaction with smaller accounts, not only because they bother to take the time, but also because they still seem to be genuinely interested in other people’s adventures and not just their own. There’s more of a sense of community, and not a feeling of following a celebrity!

    • It’s so easy to do!! I have seen so many stories and photos from adventures in New Zealand, I feel like I’m missing out, and I only got here just over 2 weeks ago!! Really need to just chill out lol.
      On social media, I do understand that it’s super difficult to interact with absolutely everyone, but really… the smaller accounts are where it’s at if you want that sense of community you mention. Not going to hate on people for their success, but it is greatly appreciated when the bigger accounts notice us little guys! πŸ™‚

  • Stephie (The Wandering Soles)

    Love this post! Thanks for writing about something that often doesn’t get touched upon but is very relatable. Well done. And I’m sure your photos are great too.

    P.S. We’ll be in New Zealand around January, if you are still there, maybe we will cross paths.

    • Thank you Stephie!! I will definitely be in New Zealand in January – thinking of being down on the South Island by then, possibly in Christchurch. Want to spend the warmer summer months down that way so I don’t freeze!! lol Would love to cross paths with you! πŸ™‚

  • As a small business owner who has a huge passion for travel, this is a big problem for me! I am always so envious of travel bloggers and photographers who live out their dreams all over the world, while I sit at home working. I constantly have to remind myself that sometimes staying put for a while is an adventure too. Of course, when I finally get time off to explore other parts of the world, I realize that it was silly for me to every have been envious. Thanks for writing this!

    • Yes being a small business owner doesn’t leave you much time to just jump on a plane and take off!! Geez, even while I am traveling, my goal to become a freelancer has pretty much kept me sitting in the same cafe doing work everyday lol. That’s just part of it! I think it benefits us all to remember that what we see posted are highlight reels, and even on an adventure there’s plenty of down time. As long as you are enjoying life on your own terms, that’s all that matters. And thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

  • Very well said! Sometimes I think the internet halts improvement because people end up thinking “oh, well I’ll never get there” and nip it in the bud before they even start. And then there’s the facet where everything seems to have been explored and it’s hard to give new perspective on something. But the jealousy either way is always there! For me, it’s more like “Ugh, why can’t I be traveling right now?”

    • Thank you!! Yes, I definitely get a “oh, well I’ll never get there” feeling, especially when it comes to photography. Probably because I love the concept of it, and the results, but don’t actually have enough interest to really sit down and learn it. So I get discouraged. But hey, we can’t all be awesome at everything, now can we! πŸ™‚

  • I needed this post! Thank you. I absolutely love traveling and I often find myself pouring over other bloggers’ travel photos wishing that I too had visited those places! I definitely think we need to step back sometimes to truly appreciate the adventures we’ve already had and stop obsessing over the next one.

    • Thank YOU Shannon!! So glad you could relate to this!! I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to hit publish, and almost scrapped it altogether, because I didn’t want to come across as bitching about someone who wasn’t following me lol. But I think it’s sentiments we can all relate to. πŸ™‚

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  • Yup, I definitely know what you mean about adventure envy. It’s so hard to sit at home, working the 9-5 and keeping a travel blog when there are so many people out having so many awesome adventures. I’ve learned to just step away from social media only using it when I need it. This single act has really helped me.

    • Social media can be dangerous with our natural tendency towards comparison! But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we are all on our own journey here, and if you can feel happy for others out there having a great time instead of jealous, well then you’ll doing just fine! πŸ™‚

  • Yup and yup! You’re absolutely right. It’s YOUR adventure. My biggest adventure while I’ve been in New Zealand has been getting a Visa and hunting down Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk! Hope you’ve enjoyed NZ. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures, whatever they may be πŸ™‚

    • Haha that sounds fun!! Adventures come in many forms, whether it be adrenaline-inducing activities or something as simple as taking a country drive one afternoon. πŸ™‚

  • Sarah

    Hello, I just found your blog via Anna’s blog, slightly astray. Just wanted to comment and say that this post just expressed what I’ve been feeling. Adventure envy is real! BIG SIGH. I may not be able to travel as much as I’d like, but I do appreciate those times when they do come around! I have to say that New Zealand was my dream destination for the longest time and I was finally able to travel there last year. I only had time for the North Island, but will return to visit South Island one day. I look forward to reading your posts about that incredibly beautiful place. : )

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for stopping by! I love Anna’s blog – she’s fabulous. πŸ™‚ And adventure envy is certainly real, especially if we let ourselves fall victim to the comparison game. New Zealand is a stunning country – I really do hope I get to make it back there one day and explore more!!

  • Travel2theCaribbean

    The majority of travel bloggers who won’t admit to “adventure envy” are lying! While I travel to the Caribbean every year (usually 4-5 trips) I admit being a tab bit jealous viewing other bloggers travel stories/pics. Then coming back to the reality, I realize how blessed I am to travel as often as I do. And I have a wonderful family and home to take care of, so being away more often is out of the question. Appreciate your honesty, enjoyed reading – and New Zealand is on the bucket list.

    • Haha no one is immune!! I’m constantly looking at other people’s photos and stories and thinking, “I wanna do that!!” in a completely whiny voice in my head lol. Especially since I made the decision to leave New Zealand. So many people look like they’re having the adventure of a lifetime, and I just couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm. I think my backpacking days are over, but I’ll head back when I can visit and explore the way I want to! πŸ™‚

      • Travel2theCaribbean

        I fell the same way Amy – I wanna do it all!! I’m sure your backpacking days are NOT over – keep traveling and thanks for commenting!

        • Thank you for commenting as well!! And yes, it is hard to sit back and watch others’ adventures when you want to do it all yourself too! The traveling days are certainly not over – there will be plenty of trips to come. πŸ˜‰

  • It’s normal to get a bit of travel envy!! Especially us travel bloggers. Plus, it’s our job to make things look appealing too. But I think New Zealand is pretty much the most envious place on Earth. πŸ™‚ That said, everyone is different and some people are more up for adventure or have different pursuits. The travel blogging industry puts a lot of pressure on us to stand out but in the end, if you worry too much about that, it kinda takes away from the beauty of the experience. But I kinda have a love hate relationship with social media too. I love sharing my experiences but I hate feeling the need to share β€œeverything” about my trip because there’s a lot you still want to keep private just for yourself to enjoy.

    • There’s such a fine line between taking advantage of all the internet offers is a blessing and a curse. You can stay in touch, share, shrink the world so to speak, but then so much is highlight reel specifically tailored to make it all look fabulous. If we all remember to keep it in perspective, and it is a reflection of our personal experiences, we’d be better off. πŸ™‚

  • I get such bad adventure envy…even if I’m doing something amazingly cool, I see someone else doing something equally amazing and I’m immediately trying to figure out how I can get there.

    I have to check myself quite a lot and remember that “comparison is the thief of joy.” My life, exactly the way it is now, is probably pretty enviable to a lot of people – as is yours!

    I just try to be grateful for the things I DO get to experience, and jot the rest down onto my rapidly-expanding bucket list. πŸ™‚

    • Comparison truly is the thief of joy! I think though because it’s our reality, and we still have to deal with the mundane things that don’t make it to the highlight reel, our lives/travels/experiences don’t “look at cool” to ourselves. But gratitude is a seriously powerful tool in overcoming the envy – and remembering that we’re all on our own personal journeys, no matter which shape or form! πŸ™‚

  • Such an honest post. I’ve been there as well where a part of me feels that envy and another feels ashamed of feeling that way. On the note about the person you tried to connect with on IG: I’ve been there too where you want to connect with someone more popular, you leave comments on the blog, ect and crickets….
    Btw Loving all your pictures on IG. I’m not feeling envious but inspired!

    • Thank you Jessica!! It is an internal struggle, isn’t it? Like you know that if you look at your own life, it’s pretty fabulous to someone else, yet you still feel like you might be missing out on something. I still follow this person I mentioned on Instagram – been posting tons of gorgeous photos of New Zealand – and it would be very easy for me to feel envious given that I just left that country after only 3 weeks, and without seeing hardly anything. But it was a good lesson – my adventure style is different, so instead of feeling envious, I am able to appreciate it more. Love your pictures on IG too!! And so great to make a proper social connection there. πŸ˜‰

  • So true! Sometimes the best adventures can be had in your own backyard – and they don’t have to be splashy. This past summer, we absolutely loved bicycling around Vancouver’s Stanley Park and inner False Creek. We only made it out a few times. But every time we did, with the sun on our backs and the smell of the sea in the air, we were happy, incredibly happy. There was no better adventure to be had then.

    • I love that you had such an adventure right in your own area!! I often overlooked all that my town had to offer, until I had a bit (okay, a lot) of extra time on my hands. I spent it out at the beach and was amazed at how easily I felt like I’d been “on vacation” after just a few hours hanging out there. It was a super simple activity, but it gave me that same refreshing boost. πŸ™‚

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