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Dealing with the Naysayers

Dear Lynda,

Anytime people ask about my travel plans and find out I’m planning to ride through certain countries in the world they view as dangerous, I’m bombarded by concern, and that it’s “not worth the risk.” How do I politely respond to all of this unsolicited advice, especially from people who’ve never done anything like this?

– Elsa

Dear Elsa,

Differentiating between genuine concern and honest conversations versus attempts to ease one’s own fears is often the first step in deciding how to proceed when given unsolicited advice. It may be easiest to break down your responses depending on who you are talking to and how well they understand you as a risk taker.

Comments from acquaintances and casual observers don’t require much other than ‘thanks for your thoughts’ and politely moving on to other topics. Should they feel the urge to press further, are you comfortable turning the tables and questioning why they feel the need to share their fears with you? Are you willing to help them recognize they are crossing a boundary that isn’t appropriate given the nature of your relationship to them?

I’m sure you have also some friends that understand your willingness to take risks in order to live the life you want, in which case their questions may be valid; they simply care about you and want you to be safe. Having conversations about what your plans are, and how you intend to mitigate the risks you may encounter should suffice to waylay their fears and garner their enthusiastic support.

But there are also many friends who don’t understand that you are okay with a higher level of acceptable risk than they are. It’s this group who usually just wants you to change your mind so they are more comfortable. Before you write them off, however, you may want to ask yourself a few questions.

When you share why going is important to you, have they asked questions to deepen their understanding of why you want to ride in countries they perceive to be dangerous but you see as exciting, challenging, or simply within your level of comfort and experience? Are they making attempts to ‘get it’ that you are perhaps different from them in your desire for experiences outside what’s common for them? Are they able to appreciate the steps you are taking to prepare yourself for this adventure? And ultimately, are they willing to be a bit uncomfortable themselves in order to support you following your dreams?

If yes, then the conversations are worth having to both help them know you better, and to challenge them to see beyond their own limitations even if they never step foot outside their local community. If no, then simply acknowledging their concern, sharing that it’s okay that they would choose differently than you, and disengaging from further conversation may be your best bet.

– Lynda

Enjoyed Lynda’s advice? Watch this space for more of her brilliant insights on Women ADV Riders WoW, coming soon!


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