4 Negative Emotions Necessary for Adventure

Adventure, by definition, is difficult, and it will force you to encounter negative emotions that will make you or break you.
boy climbing tree making confused face

We see snippets of other people’s adventures on social media, and we wish we, too, could be our ideal selves in that beautiful place where she is, or we dream of performing the amazing feat he just showed off. Normal life is dull, but adventure awaits, we tell ourselves.

But we lie to ourselves. Adventure, too, is often dull or even difficult. Wait… that doesn’t sound right, does it? It’s true. Behind the beautiful Instagram pictures are often boring journeys, couples who have snapped at each other because they’re hangry, or parents who have bribed their kids with sweets or screen time because they’re exhausted.

People don’t usually take (and less often share) pictures of those parts of adventure. But that’s what we’re talking about today, and we’ve managed to dig up a few pictures, the likes of which you probably won’t see on any other adventure travel blogs!

boy sitting and pouting in malawi


Adventure can be exhilarating, but it can also be quite boring. Whether it is a 10 hour flight to get to a destination, a camping trip away from the WiFi, or a long wait for public transportation, it’s amazing how quickly our modern, hyper-connected, constantly screen-swiping addictions are exposed. Slowing down sounds nice until you have to force your brain to actually slow down and simply be present. If you are going to get away from modern life, you are going to be bored. Your children will be bored.

…and that’s okay. Boredom precedes curiosity. Stop constantly feeding your attention with the latest thing, and you might just encounter the world in a new way.

girl jumping from a cliff into a pool below a waterfall at Likhubula falls mulanje Malawi


Adventure isn’t safe. There are real risks involved. You have to face and evaluate the risks, and then decide what is a reasonable amount of risk for you, but you can’t entirely avoid danger. If you’re hiking, you might encounter snakes. If you’re traveling, you may get malaria. Transportation in many parts of the world will have you reconsidering everything you thought you knew about safety.

But without fear, there can be no courage. Courage isn’t being fearless, but it is being afraid and finding the internal strength to do something anyway. Without courage, there is no adventure! We learn something new about ourselves, and often have a lot of fun in the process, when we are afraid but choose to have courage.


The world is disgusting. People who live in remote areas often have different norms for body odor than westerners do. Using a pit latrine can be really gross. Foreign foods rarely taste the same as the Americanized Thai or Mexican food you’re used to, and some are downright weird to westerners. You can’t be a germaphobe and even leave your home, much less visit anywhere interesting.

But if you manage to get out the door and on the plane, you will find a world that, while it is disgusting in many ways, is also amazing. If you dig deep, you will discover the virtue of flexibility — the ability to survive and even thrive in situations that don’t meet your expectations.

family waiting to board a boat to the Ilala in lake Malawi


You’re sweaty. You haven’t slept well for days. Your back and feet hurt. The locals all stare or laugh at you. You don’t understand what the people around you are saying or what you’re supposed to do. Seeing the world — the real world, not some Caribbean resort — is uncomfortable. If you want life to be easy or to have a carefully manicured cultural experience, book a cruise with an all-you-can eat buffet.

But if you want to see the real world unfiltered, then you need to develop endurance. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Clinch your teeth, refuse to give up, and get through it. When you do, you will find new strength you didn’t know you had. 

family sleeping in the back of a land cruiser in Malawi

Adventure isn’t all excitement and mountain top experiences (either figuratively or literally), but it is always worth it. If you are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and embrace these negative emotions as part of the journey, then you just might find yourself in the middle of something wonderful.

pinterest image 4 negative emotions necessary for travel boy pouting
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