By nature, I’m a planner. I always have been. I make extensive to-do lists, plan each day before I go to bed at night, and I enjoy making meal plans. My parents tell stories of the meltdowns I had as a child when things didn’t go according to plan, not because I was spoiled or even because the changes to our plans were all that bad, but because I had trouble changing the plan that was so set in stone in my head.
After 30 years on this earth, I feel pretty certain that my intense need to have a plan actually stems from a need to have complete control. I see this need in other areas of my life as well. I hate driving because I can’t control what other drivers are going to do, and running my businesses has always caused me a bit of ongoing anxiety because I really can’t control what my clients decide to do.
That said, running businesses is helpful in that I can have some degree of control over how much work I have and what kind of work I’m doing. This is also true of the travel life. In fact, I think one big reason I am drawn to a vagabond lifestyle is because I have the ability to be where I want, when I want to be there. Nobody is telling me what to do or requiring a schedule of me. That freedom and that amount of control was (and still is) hugely attractive to me, and although it is far from the only reason we chose this lifestyle, it likely did play a part.
RV Life Can’t be Planned
Still, the RVer’s life is not all rainbows and unicorns, and there are times when it forces me so far outside of my comfort zone I’m not sure I’ll make it. Ironically enough, these instances of being forced to grow as a person generally happen when something doesn’t go as planned, meaning my fear of losing control—one of the reasons I chose this life—is also one of the things I’m made to face throughout our travels.
You may wonder why I chose to travel fulltime in the first place if it was only going to force me to face this fear. There are two answers to that question. The first is that there were many other factors that came into play when making the decision we did. The second, however, is that I had no idea I was going to regularly find myself in positions where loss of control would be an issue.
Sure, I knew that things wouldn’t go exactly right from time to time, but we’d done plenty of traveling before we hit the road fulltime, and never had any major issues. I was always able to plan things to be just right—sometimes tweaking, but rarely completely changing a plan. The difference was that those were vacations, work trips, and getaways, not our everyday life.
Now travel is our everyday life, and that means everything can’t be perfectly planned all the time. In fact, it means things go wrong more often than they ever did when we lived in a house. RVs aren’t exactly well made, and pulling them down the road at 55 or 60 mph every couple of weeks while also using the flimsy doors, cabinets, sinks, and appliances every single day is just asking for things to break. On top of that, trucks don’t usually tow nearly as much as ours does, and that means repairs happen more often than I care to think about. Unexpected parking fees come up, campgrounds close before we arrive, GPS gets things wrong, and bathhouses run out of hot water.
In the past, any one of those things would’ve made me feel anxious right away, and when we first began traveling I lived in constant fear of the next issue we would have to face. Slowly though, this fear began to fade as I realized that nothing would ever be perfect, we would always be faced with problems, and solving them is a part of the game of life. Looking at things from this new perspective changed things entirely. Now I’m better able to relax than I ever have been, and when they come up, I try my best to face these challenges—often more than one at a time—with determination rather than frustration.
I definitely believe this constant stream of challenges has made me a better person. Not perfect, as I’m still quite anxious (among other things), but better. If nothing else, my newfound ability to relax so much more of the time has made me a better roadschool mom.
Less Anxiety, Better Mom
We’ve always said that we were going to unschool. We wanted to allow our kiddo to follow his interests, and traveling meshes quite easily with this type of learning. My high-strung personality, on the other hand, does not.
I’ve never been afraid of whether or not my son would succeed. I know unschooling works when done correctly because I’ve seen it with my own eyes time and time again. I was unschooled myself actually, and I like to think I came out all right.
However, my anxious personality does interfere in another way. It leads me to crave order, organization, and a well-laid path. This is another manifestation of my need for control, and it’s a tough thing to deal with when unschooling is such an organic, messy, and uncontrolled process. It becomes even more difficult when you throw in a walking talking tornado who likes to pose as a little boy.
As you can imagine, I’ve always wondered what I might do should my need for order become too much. However, I no longer think this will happen. I’ve finally felt the freedom that comes with letting go, and though I still have trouble with it from time to time, I’m finding it easier and easier to go with the flow, and take life as it comes. What I’ve finally come to understand is that a good and full life isn’t orderly and organized; it’s organic and messy, yet beautiful just the same.
My Roadschooling Wish
My son is also a very anxious person. Therefore, if he learns nothing else from his time being roadschooled, I hope it’s how to live an organic, messy, beautiful life. A life in which he can see challenges as puzzles to be solved, and relish every rich moment for what it is. If he learns these things, I am certain everything else will fall into place. I’m certain of this because one can’t help but learn when living fully.
That, my friends, is why I’m continuing to let life lead me where it may, all while I’m relaxing, roadschooling, and rocking the ride.
How has roadschooling changed you? Are you able to relax while on the road?