So, Just You ? On Your Own ?
So, Just You ? On your own ? Awkward pause with confused look….Where is your Husband ? These were the constant questions as I talked about and then did my second solo 4by trip into the Okavango. The shock was mostly universal (except for a handful of people who know me and even then I got resigned shrugs ). It came from the people I worked with, men and ladies alike. It came from the immigration officials at the border, the policemen who stopped me and the it came from every person I drove past in the bush (well there it was more like watching people drive off the road in shock as couple after couple came past, because it is always couples or families and the guy is always driving, always).
I was left with this feeling as to how hard it really is to not be who you are supposed to be! I am a woman, in a kitted out Land Cruiser, camping and driving off road, on her own! This isn’t how I am supposed to be and even though I am comfortable with it, the discomfort of everyone I meet somehow wears me down and I wonder who else started and then gave up because it was too hard to stand out and not fit into the picture of ‘what women do’ ? I know it wasn’t deemed socially correct for me to aspire to dive as deep as the men, so I did (it took a year or three to get past the intense anxiety that breaking the rules generated but I did and my dive in 2004 put me in the top 5 deepest divers).
That little bit of freedom inspires me to live more outside the rules, to live more free, even if the rest of the world seems to look on in shock. It has left me asking questions about how we see ourselves and how our roles frame not only our voice but the permissions we give ourselves. How can we live with autonomy and freedom and as leaders if we are trapped by invisible walls ? How much are we stopping ourselves and others because it “just isn’t done ” ? Women don’t dive as deep as men! Women don’t go into the bush, off-road, through mud, through water (super fun by the way and with plenty of beer and a camping chair, not a problem if you get stuck…someone will come along and enjoy unstickimg you ). What else don’t women do that they could if they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to ? What rules am I living by that I don’t even see because they have always been there and breaking them gets me shunned ?
And then I passed a lovely girl, 18 or so, driving her family in their 4by, over the sand and mud, just like me and I thought to myself, maybe what it takes is more woman living outside the rather narrow and deeply socialized limits society still has for us? Maybe if more of us lived without worrying about how we are supposed to be, there will be more space for others to come along and join us, maybe ? And maybe that girl will one day remember me driving around on my own and it will become something possible for her, to have a life of her own and not one defined by being a couple, to buy her own 4by and do her own trips, rather than wait for the right relationship to come along so she can live the life she wants.
So yes, just me!
I love the space, the silence and the freedom, I love the feeling of just me!
But mostly I love the idea that there are other ‘just me’s ‘ out there, waiting for the courage to escape and do their own thing! Go for it Ladies! It will probably be the most scary thing you do, but do it anyway!
What if YOU could live with dare ? What would you be doing ? What wouldn’t you be doing ? Who could you be ?
Dare to live the life you dream about! Dare to be free! Who knows what could happen ? Maybe there is world record in your future that you can’t even dream about, yet.