What is adventure? What makes someone “adventurous”? What is it about humans that we have an emotional or even physical response to the thought of “adventure”? Why do some of us get excited or giddy, others of us scared and nervous?
Historically, storytelling overlaps with adventures. Moby Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels…the list goes on. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by these tall tales of adventure; they become paralyzed where they are at. I’ve come to realize that what is considered adventurous is different from person to person. Being adventurous requires us to step outside of our comfort zones, and our perception of what is adventurous grows with experience and exposure. I want to use story to do the exact opposite of intimidate people to take adventures themselves. I want to use story to encourage people and to make adventure more accessible for individuals at various places on the adventure spectrum.
A. Because people can be intimidated by going on adventures they miss out on being challenged, growing in independence and problem solving skills, as well as the scientific benefits researchers have discovered those who go on adventures can receive.
1. Adam Galinsky is a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel. He and his team conducted a study on the correlation between time spent abroad and creative output, and they discovered there was, in fact, a strong correlation between the two.
2. Julia Zimmermann, a professor at FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany, conducted a study on how extended travel influenced personality development in a large sample of German college students. Some of the students in their sample studied in another country for an extended period of time (one or two semesters), while the control group was in college, but did not study abroad. The researchers were interested in how this period of extended travel influenced personality as well as how the new social network people developed influenced any observed personality changes.
3. Prior to the travel period, all participants were given a personality inventory to measure the “Big Five” personality dimensions (Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. Participants also gave an extended list of their social network. After returning from travel (or after an equivalent period of time for those students who did not travel), these measurements were taken again.
4. Participants who chose to study abroad were generally higher in Extraversion than those who did not. Those who went on a one-semester trip tended to be higher in Conscientiousness (which reflects a need to follow rules and to complete tasks) than those who did not travel. Those who went on a full-year trip were generally higher in Openness to Experience than those who did not travel.
5. After returning from their trip, those who traveled tended to show an increase in Openness to Experience, Agreeableness (which reflects a need to get along with other people) and Emotional Stability relative to those who did not travel.
6. What does this mean? Extended foreign travel takes people outside of their comfort zone. Travelers have to adapt to new people and new cultural practices. Even people going from Germany to another EU country had to adapt to differences in language, food, and outlook. The more that these travelers engaged with new people from different countries, the more that promoted goals related to Openness. It also helped travelers to gain perspective on life, which made them less emotionally reactive to day-to-day changes (which increased Emotional Stability).
B. People don’t need to travel internationally to challenge themselves. There are other forms of “adventure” that still get people out of their comfort zones and provide challenges that people can benefit from.
1. I created a survey and asked sixty people from all different forms of relationship to myself (not just Judson students) if they considered themselves “adventurous.” Their options to choose from were, “Yes, I’m constantly seeking out an adventure!”, “No, I’m not adventurous at all,” and, “I like to be adventurous every once in a while.” 42% said they seek out adventure constantly, while 58% said they like to be adventurous every once in a while.
2. Not one person out of sixty people said they did not consider themselves adventurous at all. I know everyone longs for adventure at some point in their lives, some more often than others, but it is the act of going on an adventure or doing an adventure that often leaves people stumbling.
3. I then asked people what they qualified as an “adventure” and asked that they check all that applied. Their options were, “a vacation,” “any kind of new experience,” “something that involves ‘adventurous’ activities,” “going to physical places,” “meeting new people,” “doing something out of your comfort zone,” and, “traveling.” The most chosen option was “doing something out of your comfort zone” at 83%. The next two after that were tied at 80% and were “any kind of new experience” and, “traveling.”
4. This demonstrated to me that adventures can be defined in several different ways and can vary greatly across a spectrum. What may be adventurous for one person may not be enough for the next, and vice versa.
C. Where often storytelling of adventures intimidates people from going on them, I want to use it as a method to promote being more open to challenges and exploration. I want to make adventuring more accessible for individuals at various stages of the adventure spectrum. I want to explore various forms of sharing stories for this project.
1. This includes researching creative forms of storytelling and looking into the relationship certain methods may have with certain forms of adventure.
We as human beings are passionate about adventures regardless of the level of challenge they possess. We are storytellers and feel emotional connections to topics through the use of story. We are eager to tell others our stories of our adventures after having experienced them. We are designed to desire our own adventures, and I want to encourage people to discover their own purpose in seeking out adventure through the use of story.