I don’t like tents.
I’m not the camping kind. But I love being immersed in nature. Do you see the problem here?
For someone that likes to be outside so much and wants to do all sorts of adventurous things and see the world, but I’m very scared of tents, and worried about camping in general. Well, maybe not scared, but more worried and anxious. I have this irrational fear of cramped places and small spaces that could collapse, and tents fall into both these categories. In short, I’m not a fan of a tent. Actually, I hate them. I hate putting them up. I hate how they look. I hate that it seems like everyone but me can deal with them without any issues.
I have slept in a tent before. At festivals (which is basically just falling half in the tent at 6am and then passing out for a few hours and getting back on it at 10am), on holiday in Namibia when I was 11 and on DofE, I’ve experienced the cramped, confined space first hand, struggled with the problem of fitting both myself and my rucksack into the space and then the whole trying to live like a relatively normal human being. It’s fair to say that I suck at it. I couldn’t put it up properly, I couldn’t get it back in the bag. I just was not keen on the whole camping thing.
Now that I’m facing my 22nd year on this floating rock, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to suck it up and have a proper camping experience. Not festival camping, not raining English countryside camping where you spend most of your time inside the shelter-come-coffee shop, but actual, real, camping. The kind where you put your tent up every evening and take it down in the morning to move to the next camping spot. The kind where you shower in not-very-nice bathrooms and have to walk 500m to the loo. The kind where you cook your own meals on makeshift stoves and barbeques and where you sit in a camp chair and look up at the stars.
On the Pacific Coast Trek America trip that I’m currently doing, I’m camping. I thought I would just throw myself into two weeks of non-stop camping and hope for the best. Apart from two nights in a hostel in San Francisco, I’m going to be doing 11 whole nights of sleeping in a tent. I know, I know, I’m being dramatic, but this is making me anxious. The only thing that’s making me feel like I can do this are the places I’m going to wake up in: Yosemite, Redwood, Olympic NP, Santa Barbara. The views I will have the the experiences that will come from it will outweigh any anxieties that I will have about the tent collapsing and suffocating me in the night.
It’s a weird fear, I’ll give you that, and I’m not entirely sure why I’m scared of it. But fears work like that; they aren’t rational. Some people are scared of spiders, snakes and hurricanes. Others are scared of social interactions, being late and dying. They make no sense, and often there’s absolutely no reason for them to happen. Obviously if you’ve been bitten by a tarantula, you’ll be scared of them, but for most people this doesn’t happen. People are just scared of them. Just like how camping makes me nervous. I know there’s no logical explanation for it, and I can’t describe to anyone what it is that makes me anxious. All I know is that tents give me anxiety right now, but that doesn’t mean it always will.
People get over fears. They conquer their worries. They hold a spider. They stroke a snake. They realise that death is inevitable and forget about the fact that one day they won’t be here anymore. I can get over my anxieties about tents. It’s going to be okay. I might even like it.
As this post is published I actually will have finished my camping trip and be flying back home, ready to curl up in my bed and enjoy having a roof over my head. Hopefully I’m still in one piece and no tears of frustration or having food eaten by bears will have occurred. Maybe I’ll be a complete convert? Maybe I’ll think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done, wish I’d never gone and spend the next two months telling everyone how terrible camping is. I hope I like it.
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