I’ve been mulling all week how to write about this without appearing too negative or giving the wrong impression as to what things are like, but ultimately I think the best thing to do is to just write it all down and allow you to draw your own conclusions. So here goes;
Some people seem to thrive outside of their normal routine and comfort zone. My friend Deb comes to mind, she has thrown herself into this lifestyle with a zeal that I truly admire and to be honest, am somewhat envious of. Lee also has taken to this life very well, thriving on constant newness and change. There are many people like that and if you are one of them, bless you, but I have found unfortunately I am not. I don’t know why I am surprised. In my former life I wasn’t a person who sought adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I liked adventure when it came my way, especially when it was wrapped up in a set of carefully controlled circumstances (I think that’s why so many people like cruises), but I wasn’t a “jump in the car and see what was beyond the next horizon person”. Lee always has been, and I imagine Deb is…and folks like that bring a magic and joy into the life of those of us who don’t lean in that direction. But…and its a big one…there is a difference between searching for adventure occasionally and living a life of adventure.
When you were in school and learned about the pioneers did you think, “That sounds amazing! I would have totally done that!” or did you think “Wow I’m glad we have airplanes and good roads now.” Lee would have definitely gone west young man…whereas I think I would have stayed in my comfort zone. (I probably also would have been eaten by a bear, or a shark , or an alligator, or died of dysentery. So there’s that. – Lee) So what is the comfort zone? It’s the place where you feel safe and content. It has a sameness and a routine that you can rely upon. The specifics don’t really matter, many people have comfort zones that others would find unacceptable or even unhealthy, but the general feeling of belonging and sameness it evokes is the point. I wanted to leave New Hampshire, no offense to my many friends who live there, I have known for years it was not the place I ultimately wanted to be, but after 13 years of living there, it was my comfort zone. I knew where the grocery store, dentist, hair stylist, restaurants, etc were. I knew what the weather would be like, how the food would taste, and how the people would treat me out in the world. I knew the rules, and even if I didn’t always like them I understood them and could function very well within them. (This does not apply to me at all. I hardly ever even understand the rules, whatever they are, and once I start to get a grasp on them, I usually don’t like them, and start looking for ways to break them for the better. It’s really hard for me to function in what most people think of as the real world. – Lee)
Fast forward..it’s been almost five months since we have been on the road and I am definitely outside my comfort zone. I think I thought this lifestyle would quickly become the new norm, and I think for many that is the case, but unfortunately or unfortunately (you judge) that is not the case for me. I will say the RV as a home part has become the new norm and much more quickly than I would have imagined, I love my little “luxury apartment on wheels” as I call it. The claustrophobia is practically a non issue and I don’t miss all that stuff and clutter I used to have in my old life. I still love that it only takes 10-15 minutes to clean and the woodwork (which was done by the Amish) still makes me very happy. So when I am inside my little home I am in my comfort zone which is a really good thing because when I step outside of it I am not.
There are two sides of me at war when I step outside of my rig. The part that desires sameness and routine and the part that desires adventures and newness. Sometimes I can’t wait to get outside, go explore, see the new; other times I just want to step back inside and read a book or watch some TV. As I am typing this I am feeling bad about myself, as if there is something wrong with me that I can’t just grab every moment, but then I think I bet there were pioneer women who stayed very close to their covered wagons as they traveled out west. It didn’t mean they weren’t brave, or willing to risk, it just meant they weren’t going to jump on a horse and explore the vista. Lee would have been an advance scout ranging all over the area on his pony. (Why does it have to be a pony? Why not a big horse? Are you saying I’m small? That’s just rude. And yes, it’s true, I would have wanted to get as far ahead of all the people as I could, and see everything first, before they showed up and spoiled it. Then I would also get to go back and say “Hey, wait till you see this cool thing up ahead! You’re going to love it. – Lee)
As I am writing this I am losing patience with myself. I want to ride the pony over the hill, see the next sunset. (Yeah, you ride the pony. I’ll ride the horse. – Lee) I don’t want to have to stay close to the sameness. Not to get too deep into the psychology here but these two halves of my brain are my mother and father in a nutshell. My mother adores adventure, has traveled all over the world, and is always open for the new and exciting. My father is deeply rooted in the community where he grew up and although he enjoys traveling occasionally and is willing to take calculated risks, loves being in his comfort zone. So where am I on the spectrum? Somewhere in between but definitely leaning more towards my dad. Because I am a risk averse person, I often choose the comfort zone because it’s much easier to manage risk when you know the environment and the rules. And yet I did this crazy thing…selling my house and moving into my RV. So I must have some of my mom in me.
I have said to my friends, so I might as well say it “out loud” here, left to my own devices I never would have chosen this lifestyle. What I mean by that is I don’t have the vision, courage, or risk taking in my nature to sell everything and go on the road. Lee does though, and many of the most wonderful things in my life have come to me by following his lead and his vision. I have seen what is beyond the next horizon or experienced the unusual from simply allowing myself to follow his path. Those moments in our lives are crisp and clear in my memory and some of the moments I most treasure, but they were moments, and not an entire life. There is a difference between throwing caution to the wind and doing something crazy and adventurous and then returning to your normalcy versus choosing the adventure day in and day out. I knew when we chose this I would be taking a huge permanent step outside of my comfort zone and it would change me. I did this on purpose, knowing full well that the one good thing that comes from being outside your comfort zone is personal growth. I wanted to grow as a person and as a couple and felt this life would be a catalyst for that growth. I also understood full well how painful growth can be. Nothing worth anything in life comes without a price and I was and am willing to pay that price for the positive changes on the other side.
I need to remember that when I feel uncomfortable that this was a choice, and more importantly a choice made deliberately and with care. There are risks certainly, but the possible rewards were and are worth it to me. The rewards go beyond seeing and experiencing new things, although those rewards are a good enough reason in and of themselves, they are also personal growth. I may not have been born with a pioneer spirit, but I can develop one. I can become a person whose comfort zone is a much wider circle and even if I never become Lee or Deb I can see the things they see and experience a much wider world before I go.
(Anything I say at this point would just detract from that message. Get me, I’m a model of self-restraint. – Lee)
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