How To Find Adventure Allies (When You Don’t Know Where To Start)
By Kaitlyn Dunagan
In college, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by strong, adventurous women who pushed me out of “hermithood” into a life of wonder and discovery. However, I did not find these women until my junior year of college, making the first two years unbelievably frustrating. I was surrounded by a sea of outdoor enthusiasts, none of whom really understood me as a person.
One day, an acquaintance came up to me and asked if I wanted to hang out. We had mutual friends and it was a small school (ergo, you knew who a lot of people were without actually knowing them) so, it was not something that struck me as odd. I accepted the invitation, not knowing at the time that accepting her invitation would lead me to the best roommates I could ask for, women who would later become my best friends. Finding these strong female friendships led to two years of hiking, occasional Netflix binges, biking, self-discovery, beach trips, and more. When graduation came, we were separated by state (and country) lines and the anxiety of finding new “adventure allies” in my hometown made graduation bittersweet. I was ready to move on but I had gotten comfortable with the friends I had.
It has been almost seven months since graduation and I have yet to find women who are consistently excited to get out and adventure with me. Many of the friends I do have live in different states or will be moving in the next couple of months. Distance can make it difficult when planning trips; due to conflicting schedules or differing financial status. To be honest, I am still figuring out how to open myself up to a new social life in my own area. You may be in the same boat and that is okay. I promise you that most people, if not all — young adults and beyond — have experienced the struggle of finding solid friendships when entering a new chapter of their lives.
I am still looking for a more local adventure ally myself, but I do have an idea of where to start. When you are on the lookout for a new partner-in-crime, begin with who they are as a person. Keep the following characteristics in mind when it beginning the search for your next outdoor companion:
- They’re willing to give friendship a few chances. It is good to have standards for your friendships, but it does not hurt to give most people a chance (maybe even several chances) before you realize a relationship will not work out. Some people may surprise you and keeping your options open instead of being too selective about who your next friend will be will benefit you in the long-run.
- They accept you for who you are, instead of who they want you to be. There is not always a need to get deep with everyone in your friend group. Sometimes you just need to have fun and be able to show the quirkiest parts of yourself without feeling judged. That being said, having a few select people with whom you can share your inner demons without judgment is also necessary. It is the only path to growth and the only way you will move forward. This does not mean they will let you make destructive decisions but that they will be there throughout the whole messy process when you do make mistakes.
- They encourage you to push your boundaries. Inner strength and confidence are important to cultivate and it does not always come naturally. Everyone needs a good “kick in the pants” from time to time and if you find someone who keeps your safety in mind but wholeheartedly believes in your ability to try something new—you have found someone special.
- Last but not least, they are there for you even when there is no adventure to be found. If you find a person who is only willing to hang out with you when you are doing something exciting, you may want to reevaluate your friendship.
Now, you may have already realized what you desire, character-wise, for the people you choose to surround yourself with but you are in a new location and have no idea where to start when it comes to finding other women in your area. Here are four action-oriented tips on how to seek out other adventurous women in your lives:
- Short and simple—get outside! This may seem a little obvious but that is only because it is a logical first step. Whether it be getting out of your house to take your dog to the park, hitting up your local rock climbing gym, or going on a hike; you never know when you could run into a new friend.
- Social Media. There are organizations that are dedicated to helping people connect. One organization called Rad Girls Collective posts “community connections” on Instagram. These community connections feature outdoor women who are seeking someone in their area that shares the same passion for their favorite outdoor hobbies. See if you can be featured or be on the lookout for anyone that may live in your area. As always, be mindful when making those connections.
- Pick up a new hobby. Purposefully pick your new hobby. Look for something you have been interested in for a while but have yet to try. It is also crucial that the hobby you choose be something that gets you out of the house and into your community. It can be anything from yoga to surfing, or even poetry readings at your local coffee shop.
- Go on a trip. Getting out and about in your hometown did not cut it, neither did social media, and your new hobby did not connect you with anyone. Plan a trip! Perhaps with Women’s Wilderness Institute (shameless plug) or another organization that encourages people to get outside. It may be unnerving to enter a social situation alone but these trips are designed to bring people together, not to keep them isolated. Keep an open mind and you will be just fine.
Do you have any tips for finding your next adventure ally? Comment below!
For more tips and stories from Kaitlyn Dunagan, check out her blog at www.wonderlikeachild.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @kaityn_dunagan or Instagram @wildlifefrenzy.