By Jillian Rodriguez
Growing up in the suburbs of metro Detroit, I was less of a Huckleberry Finn and more of a Harriet the Spy — always observing the world and people around me, but never straying far from the familiarity of my neighborhood blocks.
For me, adventure meant treading every nearby street with my best friend by bike, slapping our spare change on the counter of the neighborhood convenience store for daily slurpees and packs of Sour Patch Kids to split between the two us. As I grew up, my wanderlust took the form of reading, writing, and creating — I wasn’t a kid who dreamt of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, I dreamt of writing about it (and then I did!). Some of us interact with the world and recharge through external, physical interaction. Others recharge internally, reaching into the depths of their imagination to find purpose and energy. I land squarely in the latter group.
All that to say, I’m not the outdoor type. But before you imagine a malnourished shut-in with several deadbolts on their front door, let me explain. I love being outside. I live in Michigan, and after our grueling, gray winters, I take every opportunity to get outside, soak up the sun, and get active. So, why do I keep insisting I’m not the outdoor type? Because generally, all it takes to fill my tank is a long walk through my neighborhood, an hour spent on the hammock in my backyard, or a brisk bike ride downtown on a summer evening.
While others crave the exhilaration of conquering 14ers or mountain biking in northern Michigan, I’m content to keep it on cruise control. I am who I am, but I’ll be honest — I sometimes wish I had that inner adventurer driving me to ascend the icy mountains or ride the rapids. Maybe that day is coming, but for now, I want to share some inspiration with my fellow Level 1 explorers for getting active this spring in ways that are more your speed.
Find something you love. If you’re not the outdoor type, the first step is to admit it (and own it!). Pretending to like activities that you don’t enjoy comes with a built-in expiration date — instead, invest in your authentic interests. I love tennis, biking, and any outdoor activities with my dog. When I started building on my natural interests, like setting up tennis matches with friends and finding new trails to explore with my dog, that’s when I really hit my stride and found new ways to get active.
Follow your wanderlust. Maybe you won’t be embarking on a trip to the Pacific Crest Trail anytime soon, but there are probably a few destinations on your bucket list that have yet to be checked off. Even if a trip to Italy doesn’t sound like an outdoor adventure, travel has a way of keeping you active. I’ve found that even beyond walking around and exploring new sites, stepping outside of my comfort zone often inspires me to do things I normally wouldn’t. Give it a try — and don’t be surprised if you find yourself hiking Corno Grande or exploring hidden caves in Sicily.
Befriend an adventurer. Wish you were more adventurous but don’t know where to start? Strike up a friendship with the yin to your yang. Befriending someone who is a more experienced adventurer is a great way to dip your toe (literally) into new waters and test your limits. Be honest with yourself. Are you really not outdoorsy, or have you just not been exposed to the outdoors enough to know? For me, it’s a little bit of both. There are a myriad of life circumstances that keep people from interacting with nature, which leaves us feeling unprepared to navigate it on our own. Partner up with a trusted buddy and try your hand at camping, hiking, or whatever outdoor activity has secretly piqued your interest over the years.
And my best advice? Wherever your spring adventures take you this year, pack a few GFBs. Nothing ruins the great outdoors like getting caught hungry.
What are your plans to get active this spring? Share what you’re most excited for in the comments below!