Something very strange can happen when you finish an adventure, most especially if it involves a long period of time or a great deal of preparation. In spite of it being such an incredible experience, you can feel disappointed or disillusioned, possibly even depressed when it comes to an end.
I refer to this period or these feelings as “Post Adventure Blues”.
Dealing with Post Adventure Blues
For this reason, I have been watching intently, as an online acquaintance comes to terms with the end of an epic adventure. I am watching because I know what can happen at the end of an outdoor adventure in particular and how returning to conventional life or “normality” can feel disillusioning after so much excitement.
In most instances, these experiences are so filled with joy, uncertainty, fun and deep-rooted emotions that when the journey comes to an end, all these feelings grind to a halt, and it can feel rather confusing.
However, I also know from experience that these unsavory feelings should be expected and that this is what happens in the aftermath of any meaningful journey. Whether you return from an epic backpacking adventure or finish training for a marathon, maybe you just finished cycling around the world or took a challenging quest in aid of charity – a sense of disappointment can ensue.
Can The End Be The Beginning?
When I finished a year-long bicycle ride across Africa some years ago, I moved to Canada and took up the role of a travel consultant. It was somewhere entirely new but at the same time, I was still back working nine to five and in the midst of the very cycle from which I had been so determined to escape.
In spite of my “life-changing journey”, I was back at the start and with no idea what I should do about it.
In the end, I decided to leave this particular role and pursue the life of an Outdoor Adventurer. At this time, the prospect of turning my dream career into a reality seemed almost impossible, but then the thought of persisting with a such an unsatisfying lifestyle was even more unbearable.
With this in mind, I sometimes recognize a similar struggle with friends, family or online acquaintances. That is to say, when they reach the end of an adventure of their own, they experience the same disillusion.
At this time, it can feel as though nobody will understand why you feel so disappointed and the truth is, it’s all too easy to fall right back into the way things were before this adventure.
Regardless, gone is the excitement and sense of freedom which brought meaning during the adventure and here you are back in the good ol’ real world.
And it feels disappointing, right?
Finding a Way Past the Glass Ceiling
Because when you embark on a grand adventure or achieve something significant in life, it is very difficult to go back. In other words; this particular experience was so enjoyable, fun, exciting and meaningful that you rule out any possibility of going back to the way things were before.
However, when this adventure is over and you find yourself back where you began – post adventure blues can make it frustrating, confusing and twice as difficult to know what to do next.
But this is exactly when I believe you must remember something.
When every journey comes to an end, rather than feel upset that the trip is over, it serves better to remember that this adventure was not enough, that this journey was not “it” and that there is always something more, bigger and rewarding to go after in life.
How to Deal with Post Adventure Blues
And so it is here, in the midst of fond memories and times gone by, when I find the most important thing to remember at the end of an adventure – that “it” is never really over. After all, there is always an opportunity to create more memories and evoke these same feelings of uncertainty and excitement.
For this reason, I believe that in order to overcome these post adventure blues and get back to that particular place, it is important to be thinking of now. As in, right now. It is important to be thinking about doing more stuff, planning more adventures and leaving the memories for a time when you are unable to get out there and chase them anymore.
More specifically, I believe that the best way to overcome these inevitable feelings of disappointment and disillusion is to put away the excuses, dust yourself off and start preparing for the next one.