On your travels, you do get scared sometimes. And that’s all right.
How many times have I been scared during my years as a… I honestly have no idea how to define my lifestyle, so let’s just let this one go…
The answer is: many, many times.
I have never gotten into a straight on life endangering situation (actually I could have died at least three times already because of doing something stupid, like cutting an iron wire while it was plugged in – but I’m talking about the times on the road now), or if I did, I don’t recall it now. But the less pleasant situations when I thought that was going to be my end, no matter what, yes, these occurred.
And that’s ok.
Being scared is totally normal – and I would say, healthy. Fear tells you that something is not quite right there, fear is the thing that kept our ancestors alive when they met a saber-toothed tiger (even though at the time they stood face-to-face, it was probably already late for any kind of fear).
Fear is what tells you not to jump out from an aeroplane when you think something is not all right with the straps on your parachute.
Fear is what stops you from going into that cave which you hear strange sounds coming from and what saves you from meeting Mr. Bear in a very intimate matter. After all, lying on somebody’s plate is quite an intimate (and intimidating) act, isn’t it?
But among these good sides of fear, there are some negative ones too.
As an example, I give you my grandma. Unless you have a really cool and chill grandma, you can probably relate.
“Don’t go to an aeroplane, it’s going to fall.”
“Don’t go to that concert, a terrorist is going to blow up the arena.”
“Don’t go camping, some wild animal is going to rip you apart.”
“Don’t go to the sea, you’re going to drown.”
“Do not drive the car.”
“Do not travel at all, you’re going to get abducted and killed.”
I could go on and on, this list is literally endless. But I mean – who can blame her? All she does is to watch the news on her TV – and there is not even one positive thing about the world in the news.
But I’m not here to be mad at the people who create this nonsense.
I’m here to show you how our fear can be and is paralyzing us.
You see – if I listened to every single thing my grandma says, if I was scared to leave the village I was born in, I would probably have died being hit by a car on my way to our tiny local shop. That is the irony of life.
And what more – I wouldn’t have seen what I have seen. All the sunrises and sunsets in all different corners of the world, the mind-blowing high mountains and trees, the deserts and forests and meadows, the cities and what more – I wouldn’t have met all these amazing people from all over the world who have taught me so much (more about that in Everybody and Everything Are My Teachers).
I wouldn’t be me, the real me that I am when doing what makes sense to me.
If I filled my head with fear, I would have been a racistic, homophobic (etc.) asshole (I’m really sorry but I couldn’t find any less vulgar word describing what I want to say) that judges people based on their race, religion or orientation (I’m not saying it’s only fear that causes some people to be idiots, there are so many things such as prejudice, learned behavior etc.) and that never leaves their home country, becoming jealous of all the other people and posting stupid hate comments under their articles, pictures or videos.
I am so glad that I’m not this person. It must be so exhausting…
Sorry, I got a bit carried away here. I could write essays just trying to understand why are people so full of hatred and envy.
Now, I was never that child or person who was scared of people in that way (let’s just skip my introverted part now); I probably made my parents terrified all the time because of my “friendliness” to all the people around. I would just stop on my way from school and have a little chat with that weird old lady who lives alone (but I never really had close friends among people in my class as is usual).
To defend my parents, they really tried their “best”: “What if she takes you away and you’ll never see us again?” – Well, needless to say that this and other, more creepy arguments, never worked because, thanks to my nature, I just wanted to get away.
But oh, the times I got scared… Some of these are still pretty vivid in my head.
Sometimes I even swore I was never going to do stuff like that again (or to even attempt to try it at first place). If I listened to my irrational scared self, I wouldn’t:
- fly anywhere = I wouldn’t be exploring the USA now
- travel by ferry = I wouldn’t have seen Ireland and London
- camp in the Sierras
- drive anywhere (yes, I had a car accident)
- go anywhere near snow = leaving skiing (which I love)
- etc. etc. – this is just for example
There’s more detailed stuff but that would take quite a long time for me to write (and for you to read) so I’m going to skip it. Shortly said, I wouldn’t be on that adventure that is my life now. I wouldn’t be living. I would be just surviving. Because when I’m out there, trying to reach the peak, swimming in an awfully cold mountain lake in mid-September, or watching the sunrise after trying to sleep (unsuccessfully) in a tent in the mountains when there’s a thunderstorm, that is when I’m alive and living. That is when it all makes sense. That is when I know I’m not just some accident but a real person who does something meaningful.
I put it in a travel-related way here because this blog is mainly about traveling but fear can interfere any part of your life. Even if you hate traveling and the only thing making sense to you is art or saving lives as a doctor, there are times when your fear tries to stop you. Don’t let it.
There are many areas of my life that are not travel-related and I almost failed to do what makes sense to me because of fear.
Ah, this topic is just too wide for my wild mind. I try to put it together in the North and in the meanwhile, it just spreads wider in the South, East, and West. Let’s do it more easily then. Let’s convert this into practice.
Now, write down on a paper one thing that scares you. It can be anything; sleeping in a tent, skydiving, meeting your favourite singer, showing your drawings to that manga publisher, hiking the PCT or talking to a gay person. (I don’t judge you, whatever is on your paper, you have my best support because it means that you want to do something about it! I know it can be hard to overcome what was put in our brains by parents and other people when we were younger.) Whatever is out of your comfort zone and scares you a bit, choose one thing and write it down boldly.
When you have that one thing to start with written down, put it somewhere where you can see it and… Do it!
And take a picture while doing it! Write a note about how you felt while doing it! And put it all together and pin it on your wall (not on Facebook but your actual wall) so you can see it and remember how it felt.
And then… Choose a new thing out of your comfort zone…
I can promise you, you’ll become more open to the world and people in it, you’ll become stronger, you’ll become wiser, you’ll mature as a person. You’ll learn not to doubt yourself and to believe in yourself. You’ll find out things about yourself you didn’t know were there. You’ll stop being a copy of the people from your past, you’ll become your own original self.
You’ll become alive.
I wish you only the best on your journey. Stop by sometimes and let me know how you did. Send me an email or share with us all down in the comments. 🙂
Just for inspiration, here are three last things I did that terrified me:
- putting my poems out there for people to read (yingtree.wordpress.com)
- climbing onto a volcano (the black stuff down there is a glass-field
- meeting Imagine Dragons (I forgot how to speak there and then)