What makes for a truly great adventure?
Is it the bold expedition into the unknown, where outcomes are undecided and fate most certainly plays a role?
Or is it the journey, the individual moments filled with promise and excitement? Maybe it's what you learn about yourself in the dark corners, where the unexpected unfolds in neck-breaking speed and your character is put to the test.
I've spent my entire life pursuing adventure. Moving back across the country to join two friends in starting a company when I had a clear career path in D.C., that was an adventure. It was far tougher than anticipated, to be honest, if I'd had any idea what I was getting into, I would have almost certainly stayed East for some time. But the best adventures are always tougher than expected. That is how I get stronger.
Learning how to code has been a surprisingly pleasant adventure, and one that I'd been postponing for years due to fear of failure. I didn't know if I could learn how to code, I was worried about my easily-distractable nature and lack of mathematical tendencies, but decided there was only one way to find out. The amazing Liz Howard and the wonderful community at Dev Bootcamp carried me through the most intellectually challenging undertaking of my life, and I loved every moment of it.
Founding Hipcamp is my next adventure, one that I've been waiting to embark on for most of my life. Creating a company from a blank canvas has been a dream of mine since primary school, when I created Spiral Films Productions, a company that almost exclusively employed my little sisters who were compensated with love. For the past couple years, I tried to satisfy this urge by serving as CEO's right-hand supporters, helping with every step of the founding process. But it's just not the same when it's not your baby. Hipcamp is my baby.
I truly believe that fortune favors the bold, and decisions made out of fear are generally bad ones. Some may call this naive or aggressive, but I've learned not to care. Because I know that the only guarantee is this moment, I see very little reason to operate at anything less than full throttle.
This intensity can be an amazing force for getting shit done, but it often leaves me depleted and burnt-out. This happened last week. After three months Dev Bootcamp and two months building the beta version of Hipcamp with Node.js (a platform I'd never used before), I felt empty. I'd been running off adrenaline and Vitamix concoctions. Fortunately, I have hit this wall before, and I have learned how to recharge: family, friends, surf, yoga, and no electronic devices. I unplugged for almost a full week. As important as loved ones are, solo time is perhaps the most critical element of my recovery. I rented a kayak in Pt. Reyes from Blue Water Kayaks, launched from Marshall and crossed Tomales Bay to a boat-in beach campsites on the Pt. Reyes peninsula. My backpack held a tent, sleeping bag, The Diamond Age, my journal, quinoa, apples, and excellent s'mores supplies (sea-salt caramel dark chocolate). I pitched my tent under a beautiful grandmother oak tree that sheltered me from the wind. I gathered driftwood to build a fire, and gave my fears to the flames as they burned upwards into the deep night sky. I remembered my natural rhythm, my ethos, my passions. I was approximately one volleyball away from Castaway.
When I returned to the default world, the world with highways and shopping centers, satellites and iPads, I felt protected and internally robust. The path I've chosen isn't easy, but I've chosen it for a reason: for the adventure. I don’t where it will take me, but isn’t that the point?
Here’s to the journey.
Alyssa is the founder and CEO of Hipcamp. She has a degree from UCLA in Digital Democracy and her deepest passion is helping shape how the internet impacts our humanity and our planet.
Featured image by ESPN