Lots of people are shocked when I tell them I’m traveling without a plan, a timeframe, or anyone else to keep me company. People ask how I can afford it. Some comment on how brave I am. Most say they could never do it.
I feel like people think that I’ve got all the confidence in the world, that I’m not worried. Because if I had fear, well I wouldn’t be doing this, right? Just like they’re not doing x, y, or z.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m scared.
I don’t know what lies ahead and that both excites me and scares the shit out of me. What if I don’t do enough research and am denied entry into a country? What if I find myself in an unsafe neighborhood in a country? What if I trust the wrong person? I’ve never traveled outside of “comfortable” countries on my own. Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Oman, Peru – all were with other people.
But the thing about fear is that it can be challenged. Fear can be conquered.
I grew up supremely afraid of heights. I remember looking down in fear as I climbed the stairs to a waterslide. To this day, I still get anxious from chairlifts (I mean, seriously – I could just slip right under that pole to my death). My first time climbing an indoor wall, I was shaking with fear, but I pushed through. I almost turned back when it came time to jump from the plane, or off the bridge the next day. I’ve been near tears from fear of canopy walks (even when I’m safely harnessed in). The zip lines always scare me a fair bit, and walking along the edge of cliffs makes my heart beat faster than anything. There have been moments in my travels where I’ve said, “if I slip and fall, I could possibly die”. But I did it anyway, knowing that the chance of falling was incredibly slim. But when you’re up high, on the edge of a rock, the odds just don’t matter. That small possibility is so terrifying because the consequences are so severe. But it’s still a small possibility and, ultimately, logic wins. I weigh the chances, and I always make the choice that will maximize my enjoyment in life, without ending my life (she says nonchalantly). So far it’s worked (and if it ever doesn’t – well, I’m happy with the life I’ve lead).
Back to what I’m doing now: I’m not nearly afraid of this as I am (or was) of heights. There may be moments along my travels that do scare me as much, but I’ll cross those bridges when I get to them.
You may think I have it all figured out, that I’m not scared, that this is easy. I don’t, I am, and it’s not. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to not let fear rule. It’s to do the things I want to do, even if I don’t know where to start or how to get there. If you take one step, you’ve begun to create a path, which evolves with each subsequent step, no matter how big your stride. So, ladies and gents, I’ve taken the first step(s): I packed a bag, hopped on a bus, and didn’t look back. I’ve had mixed feelings along this evolving journey, but I know that this is the journey I want, so I’ll push through. And in the end, I’m not so afraid. Because I’ve conquered that emotion.