I think part of becoming a bit older is that I know more definitively the things that I don’t want in my life. I am not compelled to take part in events that I’ve no interest in, and I have zero FOMO (fear of missing out) when things are happening all around me. I’m often more happy at home with a book and a cup of tea.
My challenge is that I’m a deep introvert; I’m really sociable and friendly, but I ‘recharge’ by being alone, in quiet spaces, and I can get quickly overwhelmed in loud, crowded, and/or unfamiliar situations of all sorts. This makes me turn inward and get a little freaked out. These are feelings I’m usually able to ‘watch’ without too much judgement… but sometimes the negative emotions get the best of me and I end up being uncomfortable in social situations, leaving everyone around me feeling pretty crappy too.
But when the opportunity to attend the Envision Festival landed in our lap, I was more than excited to take the leap to Costa Rica to try to survive my first festival.
Despite knowing that I would be jumping into all the things that scare me, there is definitely something about festival culture that intrigues me, but also many of the things about festivals scares the shiz out of me. My sweetie says that he had a life-changing epiphany during Burning Man a few years ago, and so many other friends have expressed their deep love for the festival life. But there are also things that scare me: constant noise (music until 7am most days), the crowds, the definitiveness of being ‘stuck’ in one place for days on end, the constant interaction with humans.
And the festival was objectively amazing, and I did mostly ok. Mostly.
The first day was really exciting and we wandered the extensive grounds, met a zillion cool people, listened to some incredible music, admired the stage art and live art, and at some amazing food. And then I was in bed by about 10pm!
The second day I woke up early, drank some iced coffee on the beach, did some bodysurfing, and thought the day was going pretty well. But I just couldn’t get into the groove: we tried surfing but it was too big for me to paddle out so I was embarrassed; I missed the talks I wanted to attend that day and felt lazy; I felt like I was being terribly un-fun and ruining things for my sweetie. So by dinnertime I was just done. I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want to party, and I kinda wanted to just hide in my tent. But I talked honestly with my sweetie about it, and he said he understood that it can be a bit overwhelming and that we should take it a bit slow, so he suggested a day ‘off’ the next day.
The next day I again started with coffee and bodysurfing, then made it to an early yoga class; I’m not normally an early riser, but it has been really natural since arriving in the tropics, especially since I was going to bed so early! This is especially helpful since mid-day is scorchingly hot. We took the bus down to another beach – quiet, private, and just us. Quiet, quality time to recharge turned out to be integral to a festive mood later that night (a few beers after the beach helped too). I was still in bed pretty early, but had a great time dancing and listening to great music (including one of my favorite bands, Rising Appalachia).
The fourth day I awoke again feeling recharged and ready to take on this festival life: more coffee on the beach, another yoga class, more talks, a nap, and then fruity cocktails for sunset dancing with a zillion other near-naked hippies! We even did some super late night dancing – after going to bed pretty early (courtesy of those afternoon cocktails) we recharged and were up dancing from about 3:30am until almost dawn.
If you had asked me on the first day if I would come back, it would have been a maybe. Second day would have been a definitive no. But by day 3 and 4, I was finally in the festival groove, and almost wished it could go on a bit longer!
I think for me the key to surviving a festival of this sort is to just know the limits: the amount of sleep I need to feel whole, the limits of noise I can take, and most importantly, the limit of direct stimulation. There is an unending flow of new humans to chat with, incredible art to look at, and awesome music to listen to. It can be really just TOO MUCH for someone like me that needs ‘recharge’ time, but with a quiet, shaded tent spot, early bed times, and a lot of naps, it was manageable and finally, enjoyable.
It also must be said that one of the things that helped me survive this festival is the extensive amount of incredible, healthful festival food and drinks at Envision: fresh fruits for sale all day and night, vegan burgers, burritos, falafel, and so much more were on offer all day. Drinks were spot on: Envision offers fresh water on refill everywhere in addition to great coffee, tea, smoothies, and so much more. Living in the jungle for four days on energy bars, hot water, and oatmeal would have made it much more challenging (nay, impossible) for me. We had three awesome organic meals everyday, organic herbal drinks, a steady supply of soymilk infused cold brew coffee, fresh coconuts, and so much more.
The opening picture is on day four of the festival. So there… I survived. And after a week of reflection, I do indeed intend to return!