My real-life example of being out of my element happened not long ago. It involved camping with friends. Now, camping in itself can be an enjoyable experience. I can handle one night, two at most, and would like to think I could do this about once a month if necessary. Joining together with friends and being surrounded by nature are two of my favorite things. So yeah, I think camping is pretty fun.
However, when you combine camping and music festivals this is a whole different story. I know many people are really into this combination of activities, but as a tried and true introvert who more or less likes being inside, this duo of events can quickly take its toll on me. Which brings us to just 5 days ago when I willingly agreed to join my friends for a camping/music fest filled weekend. I’m happy to report I went into this knowing the personal risks and got through it happy as a clam.
I mentioned above that I went with friends to this event. We got to see Willie Nelson and Old Crow Medicine Show perform which was pretty cool. However, we were in a sea of people who were out of their minds that caused for a rowdy, chaotic mess. Even the staff wasn’t organized in any practical way. I am a pretty easygoing person, but do know that a little bit of structure goes a long way. There was none of that to be had. Strike one.
Music festivals tend to be pretty big events and since this one in particular had no order to be found, the camping situation posed risk of being out of control as well. Turns out that was just the case. Luckily, our campsite was secured earlier in the day before the floods of people showed up. Though, being able to navigate and find the campsite was like walking through a continual maze with no exit. Unfortunately, several other people I knew to be at this festival had no choice but to turn around that evening and head home because there were no sites remaining to set up a tent. Strike two.
Once the music was going and most everyone was gathered in front of the main stage, the overwhelming feeling of being lost and never finding my way out of the huge mass set in. Crowds are one of my least favorite things. I personally don’t like being jostled about or continually bumped into or have my feet stepped on constantly. None of that sounds or is fun to me. Strike three.
I was officially out of my element.
So how did I turn things around and get back on the fun loving track in order to still enjoy my time and this unique to me experience? Well, I wasn’t alone. I had a good friend who was in the same boat as me. It’s so helpful to have a buddy to share experiences with, especially when you both feel the same way about what’s happening. We made a game plan ahead of time and reveled in the fact that we could commiserate together when needed.
Here are some ideas we collaborated on in order to make it through the weekend in good spirits:
- Find reasons to laugh (this keeps lighthearted & not so serious)
- Brush up on scary stories to share around the campfire
- Drink whiskey
- Take time to set up the campsite (first thing if possible so there’s nothing to worry about later)
- Create an alter ego & live into it
These ideas came in handy and did help to keep our mindsets on the fact that we were surrounded by good people, a unique experience (for us), and able to engage with this newness and sense of being out of control. Having an alter ego was the most fun part for me. I named her “Florence”! She loved crowds, music festivals, staying up late, lots of noise, and being covered in a layer of dirt and sweat. She also enjoyed cliff jumping first thing in the morning. Other alter egos I considered were a park ranger, band groupie, and a mountain woman who is an expert at building campfires. Anytime my attitude would start to shift back to its natural state, when I would begin feeling grumpy and upset about the noise or bustle or whatever, I told myself, “Florence wouldn’t mind one bit of this chaos!” It helped to make light of the situation at hand and allowed me to just be present in the mess that was surrounding me. There was no way out but through, so might as well make the most of it.
So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel you don’t belong take stock in what you can control. Most of the time that isn’t much, but even the smallest things can help to ground you and keep you feeling sane. Have you ever tried having an alter ego? What kind of situations have you found yourself in that have made you feel out of place? What would you do in order to make it a memory that can be looked back upon with fondness instead of contempt?