I first found AdventurUs Women through a text from a friend who knew I needed help out of a BIG rut in my life. When I opened the link to the Winter Retreat, I felt the deep, familiar pang of, “I would love to do that,” immediately followed by my usual mantra of, “but I can’t.”
I kept the tab open –first for a day, then a week, then a month – opening my phone each time to a reminder of all the things I really wanted to do, but simply wasn’t. After a month (and incessant prodding from my therapist) I finally had the bravery to asked myself, “why?”
What I realized is that through life and its inevitable trials – in my case, a sexual assault that cost me my career and left me with PTSD – women tend to do what it takes to survive in the face of unrelenting adversity. We spend all our energy to keep our ship afloat – often taking responsibility for children, family, friends, and partners along the way — allowing little room for those deep seeded desires that truly allow us to thrive.
As women, we have been taught that to be good is to be selfless, but that is absolute and utter bullshit. To be good – to be brave, and authentic, and change-making – we must be fully ourselves. And to be fully ourselves, we must dare to be new at things and invest in experiences that bring us closer to the person we desire to be.
In earnest, the goal was to make it in the door for one day of activities, to introduce myself to new women, and to try something scary, even if it meant I left early, wasted money, and embarrassed myself completely. Precisely one minute before the event’s start, I entered the cabin to a room full of inspiring, friendly, relatable, and bad-ass women. In that moment I knew it would all still be scary, but that I could do scary surrounded by this group.
Unlike other outdoor experiences offering connection, adventure, and exploration, AdventurUs Women meets women exactly where they are, providing a safe space and group in which to bravely try, safely fail, and boldly triumph.
When a panic attack hit, I was able to ask for the space I needed, and tailor my weekend accordingly. I skipped the beginning of the second day of Nordic skiing to get back into a good headspace so I could embrace the rest of the weekend. I was never asked so much as a question from the group. The next day, after my initial response of, “hell no,” I ended up being the first to cold plunge in Suttle Lake in the dead of the central Oregon winter. As I sat in the frigid cold, focused on my breath and myself, I realized the power of my own courage. The same courage that led me to sign up and show up for this weekend full of things that excited and scared me led me to do something that embodied the woman I had only previously dreamt of being.
AdventurUs Women offers the rare and unique opportunity for us to abandon all the ‘shoulds’ of life, to explore and invest in ourselves, and to dare to try new things in a male-dominated space. To be clear, the fear doesn’t go away, but it becomes entirely conquerable when you are cheered on by women who believe in you.
In daring to sign up for the weekend, I dared to try, to be vulnerable, and to fail without being a failure. In doing so, I came closer to the woman I have always dreamt of being.
So, before you say no, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of failing, or are you afraid that you haven’t even scratched the surface of what it is that makes you feel alive? Either way, signing up is probably the best thing you can do for yourself.