Imperfect Adventures: How embracing things not going to plan can help you grow

This article is sponsored by Fisherman’s Friend. All opinions are our own.

We think it’s safe to say that, if you’re anything like us, you’ll have found yourself comparing your experiences to somebody else’s highlight reel. For us, this has happened in so many circumstances through our lives – be it career wise, the way our home looks or just general life. The one place where we used to find ourselves comparing the most (and let’s face it, it still happens from time to time) is with travel and adventure. Spend any time on social media, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that travel, adventure and even just going for a walk or hike is always this ultra-perfect experience. We’re presented with hyper-idealistic perceptions of what this feels like, yet so often when we arrive atthatlocation or go onthathike and if it doesn’t quite feel the same as what we saw online, or go to plan, we end up feeling like we’ve failed.

The reality is that in our unfiltered lives, things don’t always go to plan. However, when we compare our experiences to others, you can end up feeling defeated.

When Fisherman’s Friend asked us to take part in their ‘Whatever the Day Throws at You’ campaign, we were excited by the idea of facing our everyday challenges.Available in supermarkets, newsagents, and pharmacies nationwide, Fisherman’s Friend has spent 156 years of being by the side of many adventurers (us included), and it’s pretty clear they’re with you for the highlights just as much as the (sometimes) steep learning curves. What we love about Fisherman’s Friend is that they’re all about individual experiences, individual strength and seizing whatever the day throws at you. If you’ve spent any amount of time with us here on the blog, you’ll likely knowwe’ve always talked about imperfect adventures and we’ve even done whole talks around the idea of messing things up. It’s actually one of the reasons we started This Expansive Adventure in the first place – because what we see isn’t always realistic.

There have been so many times when we’ve had things thrown at us that we didn’t expect, and the ‘should have known better’ mistakes. There was the time in Gran Canaria when we’d just spent the last 5 hours scaling a pretty big mountain in the heat, to find that the path we needed to take back to the car 1km before the end was closed off (this, of course, wasn’t mentioned on the map). That was a fun few hours having to trek that extra 15km that we weren’t expecting back to the car! There was the time we were out in the desert in Utah working on our Hidden Landscapes of the American West project with our guide and the ATV cut out. We ended up having to walk back for a very long time on a deep, sand drifted trail only to later find out that a plastic bag near the fan was to blame (and had we realised, and simply removed it, we would have avoided all of that). There have been endless equipment failures too. Batteries running out at the most inopportune times and forgetting to bring the right clothing for a heavy downpour. Every single one of these things at the time made us question whether we wanted to carry on with our adventures (maybe a touch dramatic, but it happens when you’re annoyed). However, what every single one of these failures (and so many more that we haven’t mentioned) do is help us to learn.

Image description: A landscape image. A detail shot with Matt’s hand in the bottom right of the frame and side of face in the top left. In the centre of the frame is a Fisherman’s Friend original packet. On Matt’s hand are two lozenges. In the background are out of focus rocks and mossy outcrops. 

What if instead of just our highlight moments, we share the lessons from the things that didn’t quite go to plan?