Time to get introspective and think about the ways I’ve changed since we left on this little RV journey almost a year ago. This time last year I was so unsure that RV life would work out. I mean, I obviously had faith in the idea, that’s why I was so determined to pursue it. But it’s such a departure from a “normal” way of life. There’s really no blueprint, no one to ask what it’s like, no way to know how Calla would do, no way to know how our work/jobs would evolve…lots of unknowns. So, a year later, I am a lot more confident in my decision, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. Here are a few ways I’ve been changed by RVing:
I’m Less Worried What Others Think
I’ve never been one to care too much about what other people think, instead I do what’s right for me…hence this whole journey in the first place. But I’d be foolish to say that what other people think doesn’t influence me on some level. When you take a big, non-traditional risk like selling your house and moving into an RV, people are going to have their opinions.
If I cared that much what other people think, I would have never done this. So I think making the leap into RV life opened the flood-gates for me to make even more decisions that most people would not agree with (such as us having no income for months and living off of savings). The “old” Hannah would have never approved of that!
For better or for worse, we each live our own lives every day and not the lives of others. So the experiences I have are my responsibility. Why should I let others influence my daily life, when no one is experiencing it but me?
On a more superficial note, there’s also the fact that I spent 95% of my time in yoga pants and t-shirts, I don’t wear makeup, and I used my flat iron twice in almost a year on the road. It’s pretty darn liberating. I even post pictures of myself with no makeup on on Instagram, which is crazy. A year ago, I would have never done that. But it’s important to me that I’m authentic in what I show on social media.
I guess the root of all of this is an increased confidence – in my ability to make decisions and to live with the consequences. Confidence that nothing in life is permanent, and I can try different things and see what feels right to me.
My Idea of Productivity Has Changed
Before we left for RV life, part of the draw was that I thought I’d have a lot more time to do less. To slow down, to relax…well, this has been partially true, but now that we are seeing so many interesting things, how can I “just relax”?! Instead, my relaxation has become hiking, exploring, and learning. It’s not the “let me sit here on a rock by a stream and contemplate life” that I may have pictured in my mind a year ago, but it’s about collecting new experiences.
When I was working full time, I was constantly tired. I had to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day and use my brain. I had a job where I had to think very hard – no such thing as mindless work. But the actual thinking/hard work only took me a few hours a day and I had my work completed. But I still had to sit there for the remaining hours. It was not physically exhausting, but it was mentally exhausting. So I would come home and veg out with TV and not feel guilty about it – after all, I had just worked all day! But really, I was only productive for a few of the hours.
Now I am able to see that productivity doesn’t have to mean working for 8 hours a day. What if I focus and work for a couple hours a day, and spend the rest of my time doing things I want to do, rather than I have to do? Is that still productive? Who decided that you are not productive or contributing unless you spend 40+ hours a week at a desk? This past year has been a lot of deprogramming my past 10 years in corporate America. I’m still just scratching the surface of some of those deeply ingrained beliefs that most of us are raised with.
Comfort with Uncertainty
So much of our lifestyle is uncertain. How long are we going to RV? Where are we going to end up when we settle back down? Where are you going next week? Where are you staying tomorrow night? Are you going to see [insert destination here]?
All questions we usually don’t know the answer to. 95% of the time, we travel without reservations. We figure things out as we go. We have a general idea of where we want to go + some destinations we don’t want to miss, but everything is up for debate. I think a very type A person would really have trouble with this lifestyle. Most of it cannot be planned – or it can, but then you’ll be forced to leave somewhere awesome before you want to, or stay somewhere lame for a long time just because of your plan. Both Tim and I are laid back, so this lifestyle works for us. I do have times when I wish I had some clarity on when we will stop RVing, or where we will live in the future. I do have faith that these things will reveal themselves to us over time, and worrying/wondering too much about the future does nothing but detract from today. RVing has forced me to be comfortable with not knowing much other than we will figure it out.
I’ve Become a Bookworm
If you follow our Instagram stories at all, you know that I read – a lot. On average, I finish 1 book per week. Using my library card, I’m able to put almost any book on my Kindle – for free. I’ve always loved reading. Ever since I was a little girl, I’d stay up late and read. Somewhere along the way, I spent more time watching TV and surfing the internet than I did reading. RV life has allowed me to get back into reading.
If we don’t have power, I can’t use my laptop a lot – I have to conserve the battery. If we don’t have good cell signal, then I spend even more time reading because I can’t waste time on my phone or on the internet. Ever since Calla was born, I’ve had major trouble with insomnia. Reading has come to the rescue for me multiple times. I read for awhile before I go to bed. If I can’t fall back asleep when I wake up in the middle of the night, I read then, too. I also participate in a book club with a couple of my friends, and I love being able to discuss what I’m reading with others.
My 2 favorite books from this past year:
I’m a lot less afraid of bugs/snakes/wild animals
Before we left for RV life, I had a fairly limited exposure to the wild side of nature. My most frequent encounters were with millipedes in the basement of our house. Snakes…yeah, I knew they were “out there”, but I never saw more than a couple in the wild, and they were always gardener snakes at a distance.
Now, my exposure to the wild side of nature is a whole lot greater. Most of the time, we are camping in the middle of nature – and if we’re not, then we’re driving to trailheads and hiking in it every day. On the road, 90% of the hikes I do are by myself. We can’t bring Calla on longer hikes, so Tim and I take turns going for longer, more difficult hikes alone while the other stays behind at the RV. All of this to say that my odds of seeing a wild animal, creepy bug, or reptile have greatly increased.
I recently went backpacking here in Pennsylvania and slept in wooden backpacking shelters. These have 3 sides, so as you sleep, you are completely exposed to whatever critters want to come into the shelter and explore overnight. I didn’t really have a choice but to accept this if I wanted to sleep. If a wolf spider wants to crawl over my face, what choice do I really have, unless I stay up all night and wait for what might never happen?
Somewhere along the way I’ve become more comfortable with this. I’ve seen many snakes (including rattlesnakes), got charged by a javelina, have seen alligators, wild monkeys, foxes, armadillos, deer, bison, wild horses, and probably a lot of other animals I’m forgetting about. Most of these I have seen while I was by myself. I can choose to be scared and constantly on the lookout for what might hurt me, or I can choose to enjoy nature, and when I encounter one of these things, leave it be and realize that I am the one intruding on its home. I don’t think that these creatures want to see us any more than we want to see them. I’ve learned to keep my cool and go on with my life, and in turn I earn another story to tell. That doesn’t mean we aren’t buying bear spray for Glacier National Park, though…
I hope you enjoyed my reflections on how I’ve changed over the past year. Thinking more about it, I can’t think of one way that RVing has changed me for the worse – they’ve all been positive changes. It’s amazing how one year can have such a big impact.