The other weekend I went to Bristol for the Women's Adventure Expo. If you were also there (or at the Love Her Wild networking event afterwards), and chatted to someone in a bright blue fleece who forgot to introduce herself and said things like "I used to be a lot more outdoorsy but then life got in the way" then hi, that was me
I did start on a write up that was basically 'I saw this talk and that talk and blah blah' but it was boring, so instead here are a few key points that have stuck with me nearly two weeks later.
When I told my partner I was going to this event, I rather predictably got something along the lines of "If someone organised a Men Only adventure expo there'd be outrage, so why is this ok?". yeaaahh.
So-called 'positive discrimination' doesn't always sit comfortably with me. Probably because I've never felt like I'm being discriminated against because of my gender (despite having spent much of my life doing 'male dominated' things such as Scouting and science and computers). It'd be nice if things were equal enough that we didn't need all the safe space type stuff. But I digress. This event was not "women only" - I saw at least two men in the audience - but all the speakers were female, and the focus was on encouraging women to get out and do adventurous things.
One thing I heard more than once was along the lines of "I was in my tent in the middle of nowhere when I heard male voices outside, and immediately I was on alert just in case". Of course the vast majority of the time everything turns out fine*, but this sort of reaction is a Real Thing for so many people (probably including me, if I'm honest), and I'm not sure it's something that a lot of men would think about.
*but kudos to Laura Kennington for talking honestly about the bad attention she got while attempting to kayak the Volga in Russia
I've thought about this a lot in a work/career context, but never really considered that it's a "thing" with hobbies too. But of course it is! Seems pretty much everyone is just winging it and pretending
I have a lot of friends who do Really Impressive Things in their spare time - recent examples including marathons, triathlons, LEJOG, competing in Sickline, long cycling trips in foreign lands, working/volunteering in third world countries. On top of that, I also spend far too much time browsing social media and enjoying words, photos and videos from complete strangers doing yet more Really Impressive Things. Sometimes it's difficult not to feel very inadequate in comparison: I can 'only' run 10k, or cycle about 60km, or kayak grade 3, etc etc.
Of course this is not the ideal attitude, and it's important to try and remember that everyone has their own personal abilities and goals.. but at the same time it's nice to hear about how everyone else feels like they're just winging it too!
Because my current aim is to improve the ratio of actually doing stuff vs reading about it online, I chose to attend talks that were more about 'everyday' adventure and spent much of my day in the Keen Adventure Sessions room.
The human body is great at coping
Training is important. I think everyone knows that. I'm not going to get up tomorrow and run a marathon - but I probably could go out and run further than I think I can.
This is another point mentioned several times - your body will adapt. The only way you're actually going to find out if you can walk x miles a day y days in a row, even after lots of proper training, is to go and try to do it.
Selective memory is great
I can't actually remember who said this (oh the irony), but it's so true! I know I've been cold, wet, battered, bruised and generally terrified when kayaking so many times, but looking back that's not the main thing I remember about those days. Type 2 fun!
I really enjoyed the expo - it gave me new people to stalk on social media, lots of inspiration and a reminder that anyone can go out and achieve things, be it climbing Everest or exploring a local footpath.