An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting or participating in extreme sports.
I love going on journeys. I love exploring. I love adventure. I love learning new things about new places, new people. This was instilled in my from a young age.
My parents love to travel and we had some amazing life experiences as children, learning to ski, going on safari. My Dad is an adrenaline junky so I was brought up canoeing, mountain-biking, water-skiing. I think it is why I am so fearless.
Adventure might seem like a bizarre thing to think about when we are in lock down but planning my next adventure is keeping me going. When I say planning, I mean mentally exploring, considering my options for physical adventure but also for professional journeys.
On days when I am climbing the walls I reflect back on the adventures I have been on. Last year I was 40 and I went to Iceland with old school friends, I later travelled through South America by myself. If I need to feel calm I visualise myself bobbing in the blue lagoon. If I need to feel free I imagine myself at the top of Machu Picchu surveying the sublime vastness of the Andes.
This summer we are due to be going to Rwanda on our 2nd Action Aid project, following the success of our trip to Mozambique in 2018. Rwanda is a country I have wanted to visit for a very long time, but it looks like that adventure will be on hold until the world is a bit safer and more stable.
A year ago this week I resigned from Headship. I started a new career adventure. Since stepping out of the system and into another space, which is currently Higher Education, I have been exploring new pathways. A metaphor for career journeys in the #womened community is that women often meander and cross-traverse the mountain, where as men climb directly up the mountain face. As someone who has not yet had a family, my journey for 18 years was very linear. I didn’t have obstacles to navigate, there were no roadblocks slowing me down in my travels, my pace of travel has been quite fast.
Stepping out of the race, I have spent a year decompressing and re-calibrating. I have re-framed a lot of things that have defined me. I have created new routines and established new boundaries.
On a coaching call this week I was asked about my journey and the coach wanted me to explore my feelings about leaving permanent employment in 4 weeks time. She used the metaphor of travel and being on a plane, going to a new destination. I said that at the moment I feel like I am on a shuttle going to the moon. We unpicked that analogy. I feel like I know the world of schools quite well, I know how to operate in a salary, how to perform in an organisational structure. From May 1st, I don’t know where I will be or what I will be doing, yet.
Yet, I am not worried. I am excited about the adventure that I am preparing to start. She asked me if I had any regrets about my timing. I resolutely confirmed I know I am doing the right thing. I think my words were: “it was a bold decision” to resign from my salaried role. That it feels like “an even bolder decision” in the current climate. But my intuition is telling me it is still the right thing to do. It doesn’t feel dangerous or risky.
As she helped me exploring my feelings and thoughts we revisited my purpose as an educator. I spoke passionately, at length, about what I care about. Moreover, who I care about. I am a people person, I care about the profession, I am invested in relationships and am good at making connections.
She had a light bulb moment in the middle of our call and called me a Cartographer. She complimented my ability to see the bigger picture. To make sense of chaos. To see patterns. To draw maps to help signpost others. To support others on their journey.
It was enlightening to have someone reflect something back to you about yourself that you have never heard before. This metaphor really resonated with me about who I am, about what I have to offer. It will help me to articulate my next chapter.
I’ve always had a strong sense of direction. I can often visually remember how to get to places once I have been there once. But I am also comfortable with getting lost, in the knowledge, that I have a strong inner homing device and will always get back to safety.
Jill Berry talks about leaders “building your bridge” as you cross it, but my new metaphor, with love and gratitude to Naomi Ward, is “drawing your map” as you go on your adventure.