Let’s Talk About Courage
What You Are Doing Is Brave
The thought of leaving your comfort zone in favor of the unknown is terrifying. As the days leading up to my trip dwindle, fear has been creeping into every aspect of my life. I started to notice the fear a few weeks ago when I was leaving for work one morning. I sat down on my bed next to Ollie, my pup, to commence our goodbye tummy rub. He looked up at me in sheer terror. It was like he knew I was leaving, and I hadn’t even taken my backpack out of the closet yet. I was definitely just projecting my fear onto him, there was no way he could know, but regardless I started crying. Quickly realizing how ridiculous I was being, I wiped the tears with my sleeve, checked my makeup and left for work.
Later that day, I met with my mentor to discuss my plan to take a year off to travel and volunteer abroad. The conversation did not go as smoothly as I had hoped, and I started to question my decision to leave in the first place. Over the following days, my thoughts bounced between saying “fuck it” and doing what I want, and staying in Seattle, at the job I hate, just to please those close to me. I started to exhibit all the classic symptoms of fear; tense muscles, nausea, increased heart rate, emotional outbursts. My emotional instability resulted in fights with friends, stress eating, and so so many tears. My poor father, who is the most supportive man in the world, had to listen to me cry into the phone for hours on end as I used him as a backboard to talk myself through the panic I was experiencing. Being a counselor, he responded exactly as I expected him to, saying “Bec, everything will be okay. And if it isn’t, you will always have us to fall back on.”
Of course, I know that fear is natural in a situation such as this. I am leaving the comfort of my home, my family, my friends, and my dog to pursue a dream that may not go according to plan. I am traveling to a continent that I have never been to, in which I don’t speak the language, and who’s customs and cultures are completely foreign to me. This will be the longest time I have ever spent outside of Washington. Who knows, maybe I will struggle to find a job when I return, or something will happen that will break my budget, sending me home sooner than I anticipate. Maybe I will miss important events, or fall behind in my career. The possibilities for turmoil seem endless. For an introvert like myself, I think the biggest mistake I made while planning this trip was planning it so far in advance. I simply gave myself too much time to contemplate everything that could possibly go wrong, while ignoring everything that will likely go right.
At one of my low points, I reached out to my friend Mahvish, who is my wanderlust inspiration, and told her I was thinking of bagging the whole trip or just taking a 3 week vacation instead. She looked at me like I was crazy, and said “you have been planning this for months. Are you really going to quit before you even start?” We talked for a few minutes about my fears and she validated each and every one of them, but countered with a quote from the book Room. “What you are feeling is scared, but what you are doing is brave.”
Until that moment, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that taking this trip was courageous. Maybe it was because I choose to surround myself with strong, independent women who love to travel, which makes me feel like what I am doing is not out of the ordinary. I had been looking at the trip as more of a selfish reward for paying off my student loans than as an act of bravery. However, hearing my friend, who has lived abroad in Asia herself, tell me that what I am doing is brave, changed my whole outlook on the situation. How many young women sell everything they own, leave a high-paying job, say goodbye to their family and friends and set out to see the world? Not very many, regardless of how many blog posts you have read on the subject. Sure, people talk about leaving everything behind to travel, and they may even plan their exit, but very few of those people actually have the courage to take the leap. Right then, I promised myself I would not become one of those people; someone who plans, but doesn’t execute. It simply wasn’t me.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with staying in your comfort zone, I am just realizing that leaving it requires an awful lot of courage, and the ability to cope with fear. I have found that coping with fear is something that must be done daily, like changing your underwear. Every morning when I wake up, I remind myself that I am embarking on the journey of a lifetime. I am going to look back on this trip when I am laying on my death-bed and think “Damn, I am so glad I did that.” No matter how scared I am, I now know that I am making the right decision.
If you haven’t realized yet, motivational quotes are a bit of a passion of mine, so I want to leave you with this final thought.
“Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is real, but fear is a choice.”
Have you ever made a choice that scared you? If so, how did that choice affect your life? Were you better off because of it? Let me know in the comments!