Where does fear come from? What differentiates my fear from yours?
The idea of long-term travel is pretty simple. You get on a plane, stop at a few places, and eventually (probably) make your way back “home”. While this can seem frightening or scary to some, for others it is an achievable dream. Wanderlust at its finest.
Right now, international travel rarely requires more than a passport, credit card, and internet access. Even though I like to imagine that my idea to spend a year abroad is unique… it is becoming increasingly popular. Facebook statuses saying “quit job, will travel” are followed by “moving to Thailand for 3 months!!” and photos of months-long trips.
So, it was pretty easy to tell my friends I was going to spend close to a year traveling the world.
A few friends were told in person. Some were told during drunken nights out when they likely thought I was kidding. And most were told on Facebook, where there was (surprisingly, in the world of internet trolls) only loving and positive feedback.
Many friends gracefully offered to hide in my suitcase.
These plans were a bit more difficult to explain to my parents, sister, and traditional Italian grandmother. Mostly for a few reasons:
- It confirmed their suspicions that I was, in fact, leaving my job “for real”
- I am a tall, blonde, unmarried, young woman (so apparently travel should be scary)
- There are terrorists. Lots of terrorists.
I started realizing this trip was not only about overcoming my own fears, but helping my loved ones overcome theirs as well.
For that reason, many adjustments were made.
I decided not to start in India, but Iceland… I vowed not to step foot in the Middle East (at least for a year)… I chose a volunteer group in Tanzania, rather than traveling through South Africa… and told my dad I would skip Dubai if he invited me with his friends to Israel.
I even bought a rape whistle. And spiked rings.
(I kind of cheated, the spiked rings look like kitty cats and are pretty useless)
After making several changes to ease the panic in my family, the trip finally started to seem like real life. I spent so much time researching, planning, saving money, and slowly getting everyone’s support… that it almost felt like it wouldn’t come together.
I leave in less than 10 days for the first round of this adventure… and it just hit me today.
I’m doing it!!
I have been insanely excited and anxious to start this trip. With all these nerves, it seems massively important for me to step back and recognize that:
I am so proud of myself
Before I hop on the plane, I think it is important to look back acknowledge what it took to get here (aside from the logistics of saving money, booking flights, etc.).
The idea for the trip started when I realized I was fighting fears I never knew I had.
I worked tremendously hard. I lived in a beautiful apartment on the ocean, worked a high paying job, was flown cross-country to party, and got my master’s degree at 22. On the outside everything was perfect. Similar to most stories like this, it wasn’t.
I was severely depressed.
Out of fear of failure, I ended up living a life that no one could describe as such. No one could say I failed. The problem was that I had built my life on proving that exact point. Which is, quite honestly, stupid. I proved that I did not fail and was left to live with the life I created.
The saddest part was that I was massively grateful. I knew the value of what I had that other’s did not.
It is indescribably hard to speak up about depression, regret, and dissatisfaction… when there is absolutely nothing to complain about. I felt guilty for being depressed.
My biggest fear became admitting that I was unhappy with a wonderful life.
But when it came down to it, I realized my life revolved around two things. Making money and going to parties. Both of which quickly get old. They did. I realized my life was shallow. I was wasting any contribution I could have on this planet to make myself richer and drunker.
So, in a form of release… I began planning a trip around the world.
I envisioned dropping it all and hopping on a plane, flying back to the states only to see my family a few times a year. I wanted to volunteer at orphanages, work on farms, eat from local markets, and see every corner of the world…
Most importantly, I started to dream about making a difference.
I researched, planned, wrote details, listed flights. Planning these travels became my form of therapy. It was my way of fantasizing an escape from a directionless life style, in exchange for creating new dreams.
Long story short, I never thought the trip would turn into reality. And here we are.
It took several unpleasant experiences in my job and life for me to realize that it is okay to fail, to change paths, and to be imperfect. It is acceptable to simply be human every once and a while.
I learned that it is okay to be grateful for something, even if you don’t want it.
Gratitude is everything. I am tremendously blessed. I am grateful for everything in my life that has happened and will happen in the future.
Planning this trip has already taught me a lot. In particular, I have learned the importance of trying to find a way to shape a life you are proud of. I don’t know exactly how to do this, but I know I am heading in the right direction.
It turns out that my fear of being a failure… was significantly trumped by the fear of a meaningless life.
Better yet, I can honestly say that I am so excited for the future.
I will never encourage anyone to drop everything and travel the world (and if I do, someone please take me off my high horse). But I think there is something all of my loved ones (and maybe people I haven’t met) can get away from this.
Don’t waste your life trying to prove something to others. You are worth more than that. You can do so much more, be so much more.
In one of my favorite books, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing
the biggest regret of the dying was:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”
You may just be here to look at some pretty pictures of me in a bikini in Bali or on a cliff in Norway (don’t worry, they’re coming)… But let me give one piece of (unsolicited) advice.
Don’t be afraid to go out in the world and live.
(and thank you for reading 🙂 )