There are those amongst us who refused to be caged in.
Inquisitive. Curious. Ambitious. Those who have a child-like imagination, a glean in their eye, and an insatiable need to know more about themselves, their soul, and the natural world around them.
These are the souls that are self-driven, highly motivated, and are fiercely independent. Self-discovery is their middle name.
You likely know someone who fits that description, or maybe you identify with it yourself.
I present to you, the infamous Explorer Archetype.
When you first heard the term ‘Explorer Archetype’ what came to mind?
Was it an image of a pioneer scaling Mount Everest? A humidity-soaked adventurer trawling through the Amazon rainforest? A thrill-seeker planning their next daring journey?
Whilst these are all perfect examples of what it means to be an Explorer personality, it absolutely doesn’t tell the whole picture. What many don’t realize is that this beautiful archetype simultaneously comes with both magnificent potential and mind-boggling challenges – two extremes if you like.
That’s why in this post, I’ll be diving deep into what it means to be an Explorer, what to do if you are one and what practical steps you can take moving forward in your life to create unbelievable positive change.
FIRSTLY, WHAT IS AN ARCHETYPE?
Archetype is a greek word meaning ‘original pattern or model’.
Carl Gustav Jung, one of the most famous transformers of traditional psychoanalysis, developed the theory of the ’12 archetypes’ as a way to further understand the human psyche, aka why we do what we do and why even though we’re all human, we’re driven by inherently different values and outcomes.
Every person on this planet has a dominant archetype that rules how they live their life; the explorer being just one of them.
THE EXPLORER ARCHETYPE – AN IN-DEPTH LOOK INTO ITS MEANING
The explorer falls under the psychoanalytic category known as ‘souls’, meaning they are fundamentally defined by their goals and personal development – they yearn to explore and embrace anything that improves their spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing.
But above all, their actions, decisions, and choices are driven by the need for complete and utter freedom; the type of freedom that makes their heart sing with joy every morning.
Their biggest fear is being trapped.
These aren’t the type of people you’ll see (willingly) stuck in a routine or mundane office job, though they might just find themselves in this position if they’re denying their true, authentic selves.
Also known as wanderers, soul searchers, pilgrims, individualists, iconoclasts, and nomads, the Explorer aims to escape the harsh, rigid confines of reality through travel, movement, and discovery of the unknown.
These wondrous souls generally revel in spontaneity and pushing the boundaries; daring to envision a life that goes far beyond extraordinary.
They’re authentic and frequently ask questions such as ‘why am I here?’, ‘what’s my purpose in life?’, ‘what brings me joy and fulfilment?’. You’ll find them wanting to carve their own unique path in life, even if it means going against the opinion and voices of others.
Unlike the Hero or Sage archetype, the Explorer needs no trigger or breakthrough moment to embark on this incredible journey. It’s usually an innate call they’ve felt for many, many years – one that only gets stronger if ignored.
Fears: Being trapped, not allowing themselves to discover their own potential
Desire: To live life on their own terms – free, wild, and happy
Motto: ‘I’d rather say I can’t believe I did that, instead of ‘If only I had’.
EXPLORER ARCHETYPE EXAMPLES IN BOOKS, MOVIES & BRANDS
Resonate with any of these?
- GoPro – the ultimate brand aimed at the explorer archetype
- Indiana Jones
- James Bond
- Mulan, the Disney Warrior Princess
- Jane, Tarzan
- Jasmine, the Disney Princess
- Belle, Beauty & the Beast
- Sherlock Holmes (though could also be a sage)
LAYERS OF THE EXPLORER ARCHETYPE
It would be wrong of me to state that all explorers are the same – there is indeed a spectrum to Jungian personality types.
Level 1 for example results in a less prominent explorer, someone who is characterized by an explorer’s main traits, but whose life isn’t wholly defined by them.
Level 3 on the other hand tells the tale of someone who lives and breathes discovery – this may be their full-time job, dominant life goal or ambition.
Level 0 – The Hidden Explorer. An explorer who is yet to tap into their true nature either out of a perpetual state of fear of the unknown or the inability to accept this is who they truly are.
These are people who will either decide to head the calling and take a leap of faith or let the dream die in the caverns of their minds.
Level 1 – Surface-level traveler. An explorer who loves to travel and seek out the mysteries of the natural world.
Frequency of travel doesn’t matter, but at this stage, it’s not necessarily a way of life, more so than it is an escape from reality. A certain degree of spontaneity, adventure, and thrill-seeking.
Level 2 – Building an identity. Exploration manifests as an inward journey; a journey to push one’s boundaries, and understand what makes them unique.
The intensity with which this person pursues their goals and ambitions increases.
Level 3 – Eden, Euphoria, Utopia. A sort of spiritual awakening. The stage at which exploration has led to a form of enlightenment and a place of peace within oneself. Completely and utterly free to express their uniqueness.
This doesn’t mean sunshine and rainbows 24/7, but rather maintaining an attitude that all things are temporary. Level 3 explorers are sure of themselves, their capabilities and know that obstacles and challenges are just pivot points.
17 MAJOR SIGNS YOU’RE A TRUE EXPLORER AT HEART
There are Jungian personality tests you can take to finalize your result, but from my observation and exploratory study over the years, here are the main traits an explorer archetype will possess:
Note: You may not resonate with all of them
- You possess a deep desire to not only understand how you fit into this world but to carve your own mark into this existence.
- You have a craving for meaning, individuality, and purpose.
- You daydream about living a life that involves spontaneity, adventure, and being out in the wild.
- You love nature
- You are self-sufficient – you hate relying on someone else for anything
- You’re a thrill-seeker
- You dream of having a remote, online, or digital job that enables you to earn money and travel the world
- You are perfectionistic in many ways, though aren’t afraid to fail at trying new things (though you wish you could be perfect first time)
- You’ve always liked doing things your own way
- You can be a team player, though you find it easier and more efficient to branch out on your own
- You don’t feel a need to explain your decisions or choice to others
- You’ve been deemed the adventurous, outdoorsy one in your group of friends
- You struggle to understand how others live a life of routine
- You love discovering new experiences; you likely have a bucket list
- You feel lonely around most people because you know you’ve got a different outlook on life
- You get bored easily
- You’re constantly on the lookout for something new and novel
THE 4 CORE CHALLENGES AN EXPLORER ARCHETYPE FACES
#1 A STRUGGLE WITH PERMANENCY OR THE IDEA OF PERMANENCY
Explorers fear nothing more than being stuck in the same routine or place for too long. If they’re not growing and not being challenged in unfamiliar environments, they lose their raison d’etre, or reason for being.
However, when applied to reality this can result in risky movements and flighty behavior. The very idea of taking on a permanent job, residence, or even something as simple as a 6-month rental contract can strike fear within the explorer who sees this as a lockdown commitment.
This can not only cause commitment issues and breakdowns in current relationships but a deep sense of loneliness.
#2 CONSTANTLY WANDERING AND SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING IN LIFE
The lone wolf – explorers can easily become lost in their drive to find a purpose or meaning in their life when in reality both meaning and purpose are created, not found.
The key to thriving as a modern-day explorer is to embrace the idea of creation, not seeking.
Ask yourself, what is it that you are wishing to create beyond the core condition of freedom?
#3 THE INNER CRITIC GOES HAYWIRE
You can always be doing more, seeking more, being more – does that sound familiar? Explorers can be their own best friend and worst enemy.
Because they know they want more, and more importantly, CAN get more out of life, they have a tendency to overly criticize themselves.
Ironically, if left unchecked, explorers can suffer from poor self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and low self-compassion in their pursuit of freedom.
#4 THEY CAN GET LOST IN THE HERE AND NOW
This doesn’t apply to all explorers, though some may experience this phenomenon in phases.
It’s always been seen as a good thing to be present in the here and now, but when taken to the extreme, which can be the case for some wanderers, they end up sabotaging their future for the immediate present.
This can be things like cutting off good relationships because they don’t fit the ideal lifestyle, spending above their means, acting recklessly in an attempt to escape reality; most explorers I know (myself included) have some form of traumatic background that needs healing or at least processing.
This can drive their very need to flee reality. It’s important to see the future in equal regard to the present.
As an explorer myself I know how easy it is to feel lost and lonely in this world, but one thing I’ve come to realize is that being an explorer is a gift.
It means you don’t conform easily, stay up until midnight planning that next adventure and look at the world with a child-like curiosity.
We’re only here once – and I think sometimes people forget that. Why not spend our time exploring what this beautiful world has to offer?