In association with American Express
It seems we’re constantly being told about the benefits of trying new things. It will make you feel confident. Prove you can conquer your fears. Help you de-stress. Give you a new passion. Better yet, it can help you find that oh-so-elusive peace of mind.
All of that sounds wonderful. But as creatures of habit, sometimes, what’s comfortable and familiar is what feels easiest - trying new things takes courage, discipline and confidence. But it’s trying something new that yields benefits which potentially improve every single aspect of our lives, from how we approach relationships to the work we do.
Having adventures can help us discover the unexpected about ourselves, as well as introduce us to people and communities that provide encouragement and support. We chat to two modern-adventurers to find out how exploring - and community - changed their lives...
It can open up a totally unexpected career path
Rhiane Fatinikun’s life completely changed with a solo trip to Brazil in 2019. She was working at a desk job as a civil servant and had just founded a non-profit, Black Girls Hike CIC. Being out in nature surprised her in ways she never anticipated.
“I never thought that the outdoors was for me. I didn't think that solo travel was for me. I'm always apprehensive about putting myself in danger and taking risks. It was just kind of discovering all the things that I always thought weren't for me,” Fatinikun explains.
Instead of scaring her, being outdoors was soothing, spiritual. Her trip was so inspiring and empowering, it allowed Fatinikun to see how she could push herself further and further from her comfort zone and make dramatic changes in her life.
Fatinikun’s organisation, which provides a safe space for Black women to explore the outdoors and reconnect with nature, is expanding its training beyond hiking, to support mountaineering and paddlesports.
“You can create your own path in life. At the end of last year, I actually quit my day job and decided that I would just take that leap of faith because I felt so inspired and aligned in what I was doing,” Fatinukin says.
You can apply lessons from your adventures to your everyday life
Bex Band is an adventurer and author of Three Stripes South, whose exploring streak kicked off in her mid-20s with a life-changing trip to Israel which inspired her to start the 30,000-strong, award-winning women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. She’s kayaked the width of the UK in the fight against plastic pollution, kick-scooted from Mexico to Canada and crossed the Finnmark Plateau in the Arctic Circle, an experience she describes as “the most wild and scariest of all the enrolments I’ve been in, camping in -30 degrees in the middle of nowhere, waking to your tent completely snowed in.”
Even in the scariest times, Band found solace in a mantra she’d read in numerous adventure books: THIS WILL PASS! She credits the sentiment with getting her through various physically strenuous and mentally challenging adventures.
“It’s a reminder that it won’t stay like that forever and better times are to come. You just need to focus on moving forwards. I use the same mantra when I have challenges in other areas of my life from running a business, being a mum or getting through a global pandemic,” Band says.
Mindfulness (through meditation) is another tool Band relies on, especially when it comes to conquering fear, because it brings her back to the here and now rather than letting her imagination run wild with worst-case scenarios. It’s another applicable tool for negotiating life in our urban and suburban sprawls as much as in the great outdoors.
The power of a support system
Both Fatinikun and Band credit the power of community with enhancing their travels and giving them the support they need for adventures, both further afield and closer to home. The initiatives they’ve each founded are designed to make the outdoors a friendly, non-judgmental space for women of all abilities and backgrounds.
Fatinikun likens the support she finds in her women’s outdoor community to a trust exercise she used to do in drama school, when you’d fall off a table and people would catch you. “Black Girls Hike will catch you,” she explains.
For Band, the power of community and friendship can extend to helping encourage you to get out of your comfort zone.
“They will make you accountable, pass on their knowledge and be supportive. Most adventurers will tell you they had many champions helping them get where they are today,” she says.