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15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

Backpackers enjoy adventures into unknown territory, meeting new people and above all gaining a much deeper understanding of the world we live in. This is far superior to the typical tourist who will rarely encounter exciting challenges and never learn new skills. Backpacking is excellent training in back-to-basics living which is often envied by preppers. Here are 15 reasons why backpackers rock.

1. They know how to adapt.

Backpackers have a limited budget. This means they have to camp or sleep in hostels which may mean sharing a dormitory with lots of others. They know how to make the best of far from ideal sleeping accommodation. If they have been around Europe, they can recommend some great hostels.  The knowledge that this means they can travel for longer and much further is what keeps them going.

2. They know the best ways to hitchhike.

Often when on long trails, there may be a need to re-supply with food and other essential items. Once on the road, they have to hitchhike to the nearest town to stock up. They know that they have to freshen up beforehand, smile and locate near a place where it is easy for the driver to pull over.

3. They know exactly how to pack.

They know exactly what they need for a long trek in the wild. They can plan ahead for food needs, clothing in extreme temperatures and navigation gear to help them when they may get lost. They also know what they can do without as they develop more backcountry skills.

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4. They are expert nutritionists.

One of the key elements will be knowing what is the best, lightest and most nutritious food they have to carry as this will lighten the backpack considerably. They dispense with containers as far as possible and use ziplock bags. They don’t normally bother with water content foods such as fruit and prepared soups. They know that opting for freeze-dried or powdered foods which can be mixed with water at the campsite is going to save on weight.

5. They know how to plan a trip.

They know that they will have to estimate travelling time and also take into account some extreme weather conditions and plan accordingly. They know that every time they climb 1000 feet, the temperature is liable to drop by at least 3 degrees. Backpackers are aware of logistic issues such as where to stock up on supplies and what transportation will be essential. They know how to identify a safe campsite and will be aware of dangers posed by animals and poisonous plants.

6. They stay in shape.

Backpackers have to be fit and well. Lots of people think that having strong legs is enough for all that walking. The wise backpacker knows that a strong lower back and core are essential for carrying weight. They regularly work out on a rowing machine or just by cycling. They are also aware of the importance of having a medical check up just to see if there are any underlying health problems such as a heart condition. Not much point in calling 911 in the wilderness!

7. They know when to cross icy rivers.

They have learned that the best time to cross a dodgy river is in the morning. This is because the evening and night temperatures have cooled the water flow to a minimum. Later in the day, under the sun, the rivers tend to grow in volume and are more dangerous to cross.

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8. They know how to start a fire.

They know that in an emergency situation or if they have to keep warm in very cold temperatures, they have to know how to start a fire. I know some backpackers who claim they know at least five ways of starting a fire. They know that they can process firewood, have a ferro rod, a survival knife and some cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.

9. They know about a country’s culture.

Backpackers who do their homework are always well rewarded. They know that it may not be politically correct to give vent to their opinions on the government, monarchy, legal system or drugs laws in public. The savvy backpacker would never insult the royal family in Thailand!

10. They will end up in random places.

Backpackers always have great stories to tell about situations or places where they had never planned to be. They will also have great anecdotes to tell about fascinating people they have met. The normal tourist will never be able to compete, as everything is so tightly organized for them.

11. They are content with very few things.

When they travel on a tight budget with very little weight, they realize how possessions, clothes and money and comfort do not matter at all. What matters is the adventure, the joy of the open road and the lack of a fixed timetable. Knowing this makes them feel content with very little.

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12. They are more open-minded.

The great thing about backpackers is that they have seen so many different cultures and people all over the world that their world view is broad and tolerant. They are rarely bigoted and are also much more relaxed as they have experienced real danger or risky situations.

13. They love the night sky.

Ask any backpacker if they have ever experienced the pleasure of sleeping under a star lit sky. They will be enthusiastic because there are fewer and fewer places to see the night sky without the glare of urban lights, industrialization and pollution. Just think that a city dweller can only see about 500 stars whereas a backpacker in an International Dark Sky Park can see up to 15,000!

14. They are great map readers.

Experienced backpackers will know how to use a compass and read a map. Not many people can do that nowadays. But some backpackers rarely take the trouble to learn, which is foolish. This is essential when they may get lost and this basic skill can save a life!

15. They know how to purify water.

Backpackers always know about how important it is to be able to purify water because this is a rather heavy item to carry! In addition, they also know that 90% of the world’s water is not safe to drink without being purified. The USA backcountry and wilderness are no exception. Wise backpackers will know the ins and outs of chemical, chlorine or iodine treatment.

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Many backpackers are only too keenly aware of the need to protect the environment. That is why they know all about the Leave No Trace rules and etiquette. The next time you meet backpackers, ask them!

Featured photo credit: Backpackers Road/Tim Berger via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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