I live in a relatively small city, with a population of 180,000 mostly white, middle-class, suburban neighborhoods. Where I’m from, the idea of ‘adventure’ consists of group tours with guides in populated tourist destinations. Despite the outlook of my friends and family, I have always been an adventurer. I remember begging my parents to let me go on a trip to London my sophomore year of high school. After months of persuasion and a passport in hand, I started what would be the first endeavor of many. I have since been to London three more times, traveled around Europe, and started a bucket list of over thirty countries I want to explore. I have dreamed of moving out of my small town since that first trip, and I’m so excited to finally moving to London more permanently this fall.
However, moving from a place so rooted in tradition and southern American ideals is an adventure itself. As a female, traveling alone comes with a degree of trepidation from my family. Constantly I hear fear and well-meaning advice about the dangers of being a woman all alone in a big city. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate that it comes from a place of love, but I can’t help but feel annoyance when yet another aunt tells me to take a man with me everywhere I go. In the same breath that I roll my eyes in assurance that I know how to handle myself, I can’t help but worry in the back of my head, ‘Is it dangerous for me as a woman to be a traveler?’
I have had some crazy experiences so far - from the sketchiest Uber ride in Amsterdam to switching carriages on the tube at 1 AM due to staring men. From traveling I have become more aware of the sexism toward a single woman - the look an immigrations officer gives you when you say you’re here alone, the man at the ATM trying to ‘help’ you in France, the subtle way I keep track of the time at the pub. I comfort myself; I am in just as much danger on a night out in my hometown as I would be anywhere else. It is perceived threat, uneasiness I carry with me everywhere as a woman, but it is not these fears, ingrained in me since birth, that will stop me from finding adventure.
I believe being an adventurer comes in many forms. My YouTube channel has been one - from brainstorming ideas to learning how to edit. Some days, a trip to the supermarket where I run into three high school classmates and an old boss feels like a great journey as well. I sincerely believe the more adventures I embark on, the more it becomes a way of life. It eats away at my soul and spurs me forward to work harder for that next once in a lifetime experience. I hope that someday, my life is not just filled with adventure, but that my life becomes one.