After reading this article by Bex Band, I made a comment on Twitter that not all who call themselves adventurers are such. So this post is a kind of response to the response I got from that tweet.
I (someone who likes a little adventure) was sitting at the dinner table a few days ago, with my friend Dan (some time adventurer) and my wife, Z (no time adventurer).
"You and your bloody adventures" Z said. "All I hear is the word adventure with you two, I am starting to hate that word".
Now, I would like to point out that this was all tongue-in-cheek, but she has a point. It also made me consider what it actually means and how does one qualify as "an adventurer”.
Firstly I would say that “adventure", per se, is entirely subjective. Of this I am utterly convinced. Don't try to change my mind. My six year old's description of adventure is different to that of Sir Ranulph Fiennes (thank goodness). This does not diminish the achievements of either. Ranulph Fiennes may not be flattered by this comparison, but you get the picture.
So the next question is; are they both adventurers?
In my opinion they are not. Us humans love labels although they don’t always serve us well, and in truth this is probably another of those occasions.
What is an adventurer?
Since starting my blog I have stumbled my way into a world of outdoor recreation, nature and what it turns out is classified as “adventure”. I have over the course of this last year come to the opinion that an adventurer is someone who makes a living from it or devotes a considerable time to adventures. It must be their focus, their main activity.
You do not have to be a professional adventurer, you could be an amateur. It might be that you work a few months to fund an adventure and then go off. Maybe you don't even tell anyone about it. You don't have to have a blog or any social media presence to be an adventurer. It is not the size or nature of the adventures that affects this label either, but it is the time and energy devoted to them. I am not including the time I spend simply dreaming of things I will never do (quality time, by the way - I love it). I mean action, doing, planning, presenting, talking, even the admin side that is related to adventures.
Isn't that all a bit vague?
I suppose so. But you have to draw the line somewhere, don't you? I don’t call myself an electrician even though I have wired some lamps around the house, and I bloody enjoyed it by the way.
Nothing in life is really black and white - there is no exact definition and this post is certainly not about calling out any individuals. Let me put it this way; if my six year old was spending a good length of time planning her wild camps or her little strolls and she was also spending time doing something like talking about it or advocating it as a lifestyle, instead of going to school, she could legitimately call herself an adventurer!
Am I an adventurer?
Nope. Do I enjoy going on what I consider to be adventures. Absolutely, love it. I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from frying up some bacon by a river bank. But nothing I have done has qualified me as adventurer.
Which may beg the question, am I even qualified to answer the question I asked in the first place. But that sounds like a vortex I don’t want to go down.
Seanna Fallon wrote a nice piece about imposter syndrome in this world of adventure and I genuinely don’t want to be the person who shoots down anyone who may wish to define themselves as an adventurer. You have to start somewhere and if you choose that as your path then you deserve support, but it must be your path or there is a risk of a whole load of phoney adventurers.
Does it matter?
In the grand scheme of things, probably not. Except that if we are all by our own definitions; adventurers, then this moniker, whilst admittedly an attractive one, risks becoming rather meaningless.
Al Humphreys has gone as far as saying “Anyone who calls themselves an adventurer is basically a prat.” albeit with the caveat that one may be allowed to do so on a self-promoting web site.
I actually think this is a bit harsh but nevertheless the sentiment is understandable and, for what its worth, in my book he does qualify as one (an adventurer, not a prat).
Anyone who calls themselves an adventurer* is basically a prat.— Alastair Humphreys (@Al_Humphreys) November 14, 2017
You can quote me on that.
(*Disclaimer: in real actual life, to a real person, not on their self-promoting website where it's sort of necessary.)