by Ana Hinz
I'll admit it - I feel a little bit guilty because Angel and I have been posting Facebook pictures from a two month trip to New Zealand just as our friends back in North America are headed in to the depths of the winter doldrums. To add insult to injury, we've been enjoying a respite in the 2nd most popular place for Americans to threaten to run away to during the 2018 Mid Term elections. I can feel your jealousy and resentment from across the Pacific!
That's why I was really stoked when our friend Ana Hinz sent on this guest post for the blog, about how not to let social media inspired wanderlust ruin your life. It's a great set of tips that we wholly endorse - whether you're a world traveler or stuck in your day job - and we love Ana's humor and insight, and like us she is a former Mid-Westerner who dreamed of running away to see the world.
She describes herself as a Midwesterner transplant to Seattle who is happiest with a trail beneath her feet or a dram in her hand. To read more of what she writes, Ana blogs about running and hiking on the beautiful trails of the Pacific Northwest, and exploring the fascinating world of whisky at Will Run for Whisky. She also share an epic, hilarious story about running her first 100 mile ultramarathon on episode 60 of our podcast!
Here she is, on how to keep wanderlust, and Instagram, from ruining your life.
I'm someone that has always looked to the future, ever since I was a child. I distinctly remember a moment (I was probably 7 or so) standing at the edge of a field in my small hometown, and wondering where else could I go? What could I see? (Like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but in Wisconsin and not France... so less brie and more cheddar.) While it's a charming thought, and likely the perfect start for a story about a glamorous world traveler (spoiler: I'm not one), it also has a significant downside. In short: wanderlust is ruining my life.
Let me explain.
I was raised as an only child, so I had a lot of solitude and time to entertain myself. Thankfully, I loved daydreaming and reading books about far-flung places. I got the fun of learning about it as well as imagining it, with a few well-curated photographs for illustration.
Contrast that with modern technology, and having Instagram at our fingertips. We can indulge in "travel porn" at any moment of the day. And wow, do we. We gobble up photographs of stunning locations around the world, and add new places to our exponentially growing bucket list. We double-tap these photos, and then after a 10-minute binge session, compare our own seemingly mundane existence, and ask ourselves what the hell we're doing with our lives.
No? Just me?
Is my life so disappointing? Of course not. I’m active and healthy, have a fantastic husband, a good job, amazing friends, and live in a safe and beautiful place. However, with time, my existence has become comfortable (the complacent American Dream, it seems.) And comfort does not spur growth. I want freedom, but from what? My privileged life? Ugh. I disgust myself. But traveling to a new place can be a catalyst for healthy challenges and personal growth, and I'm craving that adventurous change of routine (and Instagram is amplifying that desire.)
Of course, we all know that seeing people's perfectly curated lives on social media can spark envy. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that these photos are often staged and edited, and not a true representation of what actually happened.
We know intellectually that we shouldn’t compare someone's highlight reel to our blooper reel. Comparison is the thief of joy. Yada, yada, yada. But here's the thing: Instagram didn't create my wanderlust. It's always been there. And this doesn't mean that I should stop dreaming. Or setting goals. Or being inspired.
While wanderlust can push us to explore the world in new ways, it also intensifies dissatisfaction with our current lives. So how can we be inspired and not depressed by wanderlust?
1. Find local adventures.
This summer I spent time exploring local places within a few hours’ drive, and I loved it. It helped bring my focus back here to the present (and the financially feasible.) Go hike that trail you always meant to check out, or visit that vineyard you heard about one time, or visit that state park just an hour away. Microadventures like these remind me how many amazing places there are, right in my "backyard." Be a tourist in your home geographical region!
2. Take a social media break...or just tone it down.
Okay, let's discuss this one. While I'm all for taking a break from the soul-sucking dumpster fire that is Facebook and/or Twitter, I'm personally not quite ready to give up my visual escape that is Instagram. Mostly because it's not really the platform that is the problem. It just amplifies something that already exists in my psyche. However, as we all know, everything is best in moderation (except maybe chocolate and hugs.) So maybe dial back the usage to one session a day, or just a few minutes at a time instead of a 20 minute session that leaves you depressed from all of the totally-authentic-and-not-edited-at-all perfection you just witnessed on your feed.
3. Escape via a book instead of a screen.
If you still need an escape (ahem, I do), perhaps try a vintage form - a book! Flex that (possibly rusty) imagination by reading travel essays. (I love this collection.) Or if you want to feel better about your life choices, you can always read about dramatic polar expeditions or woefully unprepared Amazonian adventures by a former president. If you're still looking for a visual escape, check out a photography book as visual candy and a learning opportunity for your own photography. Reading books about traveling and adventure is my go-to when I desperately need an escape from the couch.
4. Get out of your comfort zone with a new hobby.
Want to escape to something new and exciting? Try a new hobby! Write about someone traveling to a new place. Take an art class to create your own beauty. Go to a concert featuring traditional music from around the world. Try a new sport with a friend, like trail running, rock-climbing, or kayaking. Begin learning a new language (in a class or using Duolingo - whatever works.) Take a salsa or ballet class. Try cooking some recipes from a place you’ve always wanted to visit. There are loads of small ways to get that thrill of experiencing new people, places, food, music, scenery without having to get on a plane. I’ve tried a number of these options, with varying levels of success, but I loved the challenge of each one!
5. Sell everything and hit the road.
If all else fails, this is always an option.
The goal is to lose the social media envy and keep the inner child who thinks about life's possibilities. When we indulge our wanderlust with travel, we are open to new experiences. Just like that little kid that dreamt about traveling the world. That wondrous soul gets stomped on enough in the demanding reality of adult obligations, so let's not continue that trend during our leisure time. Let’s take this opportunity to foster that curiosity!
While it may feel boring compared to a round-the-world vacation (sorry, fresh out of those), let’s workshop some solutions to this challenge! How do YOU encourage or tame your wanderlust?
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Tim and Angel
The goat in the picture lives in Silverton, CO, and tried to kill us. We survived to bring you this dirtbag wisdom for the ages.