Maybe I'm alone on this one, and that's totally fine, but I'm just not a "festival" person. I've tried, and I get it - people loveeeee them. Be it Burning Man, Coachella, EDC, Wanderlust... whatever thing you got going on, it's just not my jam. I've tried to force myself to be into it, I've tried to pretend like I'm into it, I've attended the events, I've smiled in the pictures. I have a high percentage of friends that frequent these events. So clearly, it's not that I'm below or above festivals by any means, or that I think I have it right and others have it wrong. It's just that when I face the cold hard facts of the matter, I can't bring myself to justify attending these events, for personal reasons.
I've spent a lot of time wondering, "What's wrong with me? Why am I so weird?". I've decided that nothing's wrong with me, I'm just different - and that's cool, too. In the pursuit of figuring out why I'm so strange, I narrowed down 5 reasons why you won't find me at Burning Man.
1. People are Stupider When Wasted
I'm consistently amazed each day by the ludicrousness of peoples' thought processes and I wonder how many get by on a day-to-day basis. Do you ever have an interaction with someone and in your head, you're wondering, "Whoa, this person actually navigates through day-to-day life. Shocking."?
So why would I then want to trap myself for days on end with massive amounts of people that are now intoxicated on a myriad of substances? I'm looking around thinking, "Where the hell are the fire exits?"
2. Depletes Time and Energy
Again, I may be completely alone on this point, but I try to justify the exchange of money, time, and energy for what I derive from these events and I just find it falls short. Plus, I've found myself in more awkward situations at these festivals then I care to recount (granted I did see Refused & the Buzzcocks at Coachella, which was bad ass). As a woman, I feel like I constantly have to be on guard and to protect myself lest I be irresponsible and an "easy-target" to be victimized by lurking predators, and it's just not worth what I have to invest to be there. Add up what you have to buy beforehand (especially for Burning Man), time/cost for ticket, prep, drive time/costs, costs to get in, time spent there away from your life, the money you lose from taking time from work (or goods, if you barter like me), clients, etc., and then all the time recouping. Whoa - I could get so much productive shit done with all that time and all those resources. But that's just me.
And then there's the fact that you're paying 1000s of dollars to drive to the desert and "fight the man". Hey - fight that man everyday with the way you live your life. We don't have to run away and hide to stick it to the man. That sounds a lot like losing. And don't get me started on the actual depletion of environmental resources for huge events like these...
How can I stay on track with my goals as a business woman if I'm out galavanting for days on end?
3. I'm Not Cool Enough
No one told me when Burning Man tickets went on sale or that you had to be super crafty to win some. I didn't seek this information out and no one invited me to go. I went to Coachella because my friend was a promoter and he had a group of people going. He apparently wanted to hook up with me and when I refused, this girl took pity on me and let me sleep in her bed as refuge. Apparently, I tried to spoon her all night in my sleep and now she calls me "Big Spoon". She's the girl in the picture above (Sandy). We became friends and can laugh about the weird situation now, but needless to say, people don't really invite me to these cool events, and they know I wouldn't go even if they did. And we're all happier this way.
No one wants Debby Downer around.
4. Crowds Freak Me Out
One year, two neighbors in my Venice building and I were at Happy Hour. They wanted to go to EDC in Las Vegas on a whim, and I felt this intense pressure to not be my usual Debby Downer self and to "go-with-the-flow" even though my skin started to crawl. These guys offered to drive and pay for stuff so I went but let me preface it by saying I loathe Las Vegas. I don't gamble, I refuse to overpay for gross drinks, they're super anti-cannabis, and again, people are stupider wasted.
But I went - against my better judgement. I had to fight and lie to get days off work and I was already feeling uneasy. My friend got me a ticket and him and I went to the festival the first night. Our other friend decided to stay back and hang at the casino. We had Molly and I was so freaked out by the crowd and the possibilities of everything that could go wrong that I couldn't even enjoy it. It wasn't until we got back to the hotel, hours later, that I was able to roll. I decided to fly home the next day, bail on the rest of the days of the festival, and get the eff out of Vegas. Time and money wasted - good riddance.
You don't have to go to Burning Man to be a Burner.
5. My Life is Freakin' Awesome
I don't need an excuse to be free, happy, and to love everyone - I do that everyday. I remember in college when friends used to have to create an "event" to hang out - be in drinking, drugs, a rave, a kick back, whatever label you want to put on it. I came to a realization that we've lost the art of just being together, being authentic, and being present. We feel the need to create events like this to run away and create the life we wish we could create back home. In my life, I barter for dozens of services, I interact and exchange love with all I meet, and I try to bring Burning Man into my life, instead of having to pay and go somewhere else to create it for a limited amount of time.
Yesterday, I went surfing with my friend and in between catching super fun waves, we swam with 3 dolphins. Sometimes I teach yoga and sometimes I get the pleasure of working with clients doing reiki, hypnotherapy, and other cool things. Other times I take fun pictures and do entrepreneurial work. At times I make delicious food and hang out with my husband and cat. I don't think I can fit in a 20-day binge at this point and not feel like I'm missing out on the cool life I've worked so hard to build. When I feel connected with my community and productive, I find it hard to leave as I'm not in search of something other than what's in front of me.
Build the life you want to live daily, so you don't have to slip away for the experiences you're yearning for.
Do you agree or completely disagree? Why?
*This is meant to be satirical. As I said, I have lots of close friends that I love that are at Burning Man, and I'm just trying to be funny - not mean! I know hundreds of thousands of people love and attend these events each year!
Big thanks to Jay Mantri for his beautiful photography.