We all have a certain image of ourselves: a sense of who we are, what we like and dislike, our strengths and our flaws. If I asked you to name three good things and three bad things about yourself, chances are you could do it with ease.
My positives are that I’m determined, resourceful and loyal. Conversely, my negatives are that I’m stubborn, competitive and impatient. In between those six big traits lie hundreds of small ones: how I can’t stand tardiness, how I don’t like sharing my food, how I won’t see a film before I’ve read the book.
Having a self image is neither unique nor interesting. What is interesting is when you learn that you’re wrong about yourself. For example, if you asked me if I’m anything like Meredith from The Parent Trap…
I’d say ‘Of course not. I’m outdoorsy! I have the pictures to prove it!’
My self image tells me that I’m adventurous and outdoorsy, comfortable lounging by an open fire after a refreshing swim in that creek down the way. However, after our last bout of camping (in San Agustin, Colombia), I’ve come to realise the truth, which is that I’m not outdoorsy and I’m not comfortable lounging around with pondscum in my hair.
The truth is I hate camping. I’ve tried to like it, I really have. After a shaky start, Peter and I camped several times more but it’s made me miserable. Camping is like a thousand papercuts: I want to sit outside but find caterpillars on my leg, I want to cook some food and find a crab in the pan, I want to have a shower but find two monolithic bugs in there, I want to go the loo but it looks like Silence of the Lambs (moths, not cannibals).
Thankfully, I’m no longer scared of spiders (more on that next week), but still have a mortal fear of bugs. In addition, I like having a shower at night, feeling clean and going to sleep in a real bed. To drive the point home, this is how I look and feel when staying in a nice place (January 2015).
This is how I look and feel when camping (February 2015).
And, so, I refuse to do it anymore – I am done with camping. I know that it’s cheap and I know that Peter loves it and I know that he’s been carrying a 2kg tent on his back for six months, but I hate it. I wouldn’t make him watch Sleepless in Seattle for three days straight, so he can’t make me do this.
Call me a diva if you will, tell me I’m not a ‘real’ backpacker, or that I’m failing to hit some arbitrary benchmark of the cult of outdoors. I’m over it.