Emotional Survival Guide
Nowhere is a challenging environment - and not just in a physical way. We’ve all read the survival guide, but what about your state of mind?
There’s the heat, the dust, the noise, dehydration and overwhelming situations wearing you down, with new routines and environments. Interaction with people can be too intense, or you can end up feeling very alone with no familiar comforts to fall back on. By preparing properly, you can help be ready for the mental challenges presented by Nowhere. Pay attention to your feelings, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it – and remember, you’re not the first!
Taking care of your physical state has a huge impact on how well you can deal with the event. You’re far more likely to break down if you’re suffering from dehydration, exhaustion, hunger, an injury or sunstroke.
- Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to the limit, and be gentler with yourself than you would be in a normal environment.
- Remember to take time to rest. This may seem obvious, but at Nowhere it’s very easy to get swept up in the many activities on offer. Take some downtime in the shade, rest up at your camp, or attend a chilled out talk or workshop at a camp or MoN (the Middle of Nowhere).
- Sensitive to noise? It’s a good idea to pitch your tent far away from the sound camps in one of the quieter areas. Bring earplugs!
- Intoxication has side effects. Bear in mind this can significantly effect your physical, emotional and mental well being both during and after. Be smart: remember, you’re in the desert - it's hot, you're dehydrated, and your tolerance will be much lower. If you’re in doubt, talk to Welfare Enough or check out some of these links
There’s no shame in asking for help – everyone needs it from time to time! It’s up to you to make the first step. Radical self-reliance (one of Nowhere's 10 core principles) means not waiting until you’re in real trouble. If you're having a hard time, do something about it.
- If you’re injured or need medical assistance, head to Malfare or the Red Cross.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and need a quiet, safe place to rest and be supported emotionally, Welfare Enough will offer you a cup of tea and a friendly chat from a lovely volunteer in a sober space.
Inclusion – easier said than done
Oh the people you’ll meet at Nowhere! Some will be fabulous, wonderful people that will enrich your life, and some will be… a bit annoying. Not everyone will have the same idea of fun at all times: some people may want to dance to loud music while you’re trying to sleep, or it might be the other way around and your amazing dance party will have to deal with grumpy killjoys. Or your personalities simply may not be compatible. All of these can lead to quite stressful situations.
To deal with this, we recommend taking a deep breath and remembering one of our key principles, inclusion. Everyone has a right to their fun, even if that isn’t quite the same as yours. Try to take a step back and consider moving to an environment nearby that is more suited to your mood (we admit this may be easier said than done if it’s a 4am dubstep party near your tent!) and be respectful of others Nowhere experiences, or speak up in a polite and respectful manner. If you find yourself in a very challenging stand-off between yourself and another Nobody, speak to a NoMad.
As attendants come from all over Europe (and further!), English tends to be Nowhere's main language. So, if you don't speak English very well, or even just if it's not your native tongue, you may find this frustrating at times. Remember, chances are there'll be others who speak your language, some of whom would probably welcome the chance to have a break from speaking English! Nobodies are among the nicest people there are, so don't hesitate to ask the people around you for help pointing you in the right direction.
Boundaries, consent and consideration
Nowhere is an extremely free, open minded environment, so it’s important for you to state boundaries out loud if you feel they’re being infringed upon. For example, while chatting to a nude person might be fine, a hug from them might make you feel uncomfortable. Say so – otherwise they may never guess! Communication is key. Likewise, remember that not everyone might appreciate a bear hug from you either. Everyone has different boundaries. There’re plenty of people who’d love a hug from you, so don’t force them on people who might not enjoy it – naked or not. There’s no harm in asking.
Consent and respect of boundaries are essential.
That said, if someone’s behaviour is really disrespectful or downright dangerous and asking them to stop is not enough, please talk to NoMads. We’re taking harassment of any kind particularly seriously. We are now running the NoBed consent project – check back here for more information soon.
Nowhere can be a challenging time for relationships, both with friends and romantic partners. Particularly with partners, it’s important to discuss a few questions in advance before you attend the event. Try to talk about expectations beforehand, as well as during the event.
Some questions to consider for your partner:
- What should we do if we have an argument?
- Do we expect to spend a large amount of time with each other every day, or will we be more independent of each other?
- Do you expect me to sleep in the same tent as you each night?
- How do you feel about me interacting with someone who is naked? How would you feel if I wanted to get naked?
For all relationships, including friends, it’s a good idea to make some time to be together regularly, but you should also give everybody the space they need to enjoy themselves fully – and yourself! Leave your group and go for an adventure. State your wants and boundaries, and listen to your friends’ or partner’s. And remember, irritability is the first sign of dehydration, so feed them some water! The stress of the event can turn even the kindest person into a little dragon, so try to be as forgiving as possible.
The introvert’s guide to Nowhere
At times, Nowhere can feel like it’s been designed for extroverted, loud, confident people. Partying, ridiculous outfits, meeting loads of new people can be a bit much if you’re shy or a bit introverted (like 25% of the population), and it can be very easy to feel left out. Or it might just be too much if you’re just not feeling at the top of your game. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to experience Nowhere. Don’t feel comfortable dancing on the Costume Camp stage dressed as a bunny? Don’t do it. Maybe Nowhere for you will be more about admiring the stars and having meaningful conversations with friends than it will be about partying - and that’s perfectly okay. Try spending a day reflecting on your experiences, taking time for you. Don’t feel like you have to go full tilt all the time!
Don’t compare your experience to what other people seem to experience, and do what’s right for you. You may need to spend a little (or a lot) of time on your own each day, or just in a quieter place. Welfare Enough, the Temple, Ohana House, or just a quiet spot on a hill are all great for this. Not everyone who goes to Nowhere is a party animal – many prefer to sleep in their tent at night and enjoy the daytime activities (of which there are many.) Know yourself and your needs, and do what makes YOU happy. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, or depressed, do pop into Welfare Enough who are more than experienced in offering a friendly ear to those who’re feeling overwhelmed.
Connecting with other Nobodies
Meeting new people is one of the best parts of Nowhere, but some people may find this more challenging than others, especially as lots of Nobodies know each other from previous Nowhere's and local events. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to feel more integrated.
- Volunteering is one of the best ways to meet new people. Working towards a common goal as part of a team lets you meet a great variety of people without having to find ways to break the ice, while giving back to the event. Build and strike are among the best opportunities to do this. Check out our volunteers page for more ideas.
- Workshops are a great way to meet like minded people especially if you’re walking around on your own.
- Your own barrio or camp is a natural place to meet new friends. Don’t be intimidated if people all seem to know each other – Nowhere is one of the most friendly places you can be, so feel free to join in with groups.
- Icebreaker questions can be a useful thing to have up your sleeve if you’re feeling quite nervous. Some to consider are 'How did you hear about Nowhere?', 'What camp are you in/Do you have a project?' or 'What’s been your favorite thing so far?' are all good conversation starters.
Nowhere can be challenging… but so can be returning to the 'default world' after a week (or more) of freedom and self-expression. Side effects might include temptation to throw everything away and run away to the circus, or similar.
You should not, however, rush into any life-changing decision right away, even if it feels like Nowhere has changed you and opened your eyes. Leave some time for the dust to settle (no pun intended) before you decide to quit your job, leave your partner, move country or otherwise. If you’ve been doing it for so long, what difference will one month of waiting make? It might be the right decision in the long run, but chances are that you’re not thinking quite rationally yet. Try your hardest not to be insensitive to the people you’ve left home either. It can be easy for your friends or partner to feel bland and boring compared to the desert extravaganza: take the time to reassure them that you still love them and find them interesting, even if they haven’t been to Nowhere. And eager though you might be of sharing this experience with them, respect their wants and needs too, and don’t force-feed them Nowhere stories if they’re not that interested.
So in summary....
- Be gentle with your body
- Seek help if you need it
- State your boundaries and communicate - whether with strangers or your loved ones
- Have the experience that makes YOU happy
- Connect in ways that make YOU comfortable
- After Nowhere, be smart, and take time reflect on your choices either at the event or in the 'default world'