Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Pushing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Yesterday, Alexis Grant over at The Traveling Writer blogged about how fear popped up in her current trip.  Lexi previously backpacked solo through Africa, but that experience didn't prevent her from feeling apprehensive during her current solo trip to Nicaragua. Sure, travelers have adventurous spirits, but it doesn't mean they never get scared. As Lexi pointed out, "It's natural to be scared of the unknown." The key is to push through the fear and see where it takes you.

Lexi ended her post by asking, "When was the last time you did something that scared you? I searched my brain for an answer. Do you know what I came up with? When I flew alone, cross-country to meet my new niece and help my sister and brother-n-law with the transition. I know, it seems crazy, right? The girl who flew to the Philippines for a year when she was 16 was afraid of a little trip to California? Is this the same woman who participated in rain forest research in Ecuador, who rode camels in the Sahara, who took her young children to India?

The truth is, what we're afraid of may change over time. When I boarded a plane for the first time and flew to the Philippines, sure, I was scared. BUT, I was also a teenager. I didn't know fear the way I would if I had made that trip at age 30. And, I would have been afraid of different things. My trip to Ecuador revealed new fears that can creep in as you get older. By then I was married and my fear of leaving centered around the fact that I was leaving my husband behind (Oh and there was also that pesky fear of poisonous snakes to manage...). Each trip reveals a new insecurity, a new fear.

So why was I afraid of flying to California alone? It's simple- I'm a mom now. My fear was that my plane would crash and my children would be motherless. There. I said it. The thing probably every mother fears.

My departure was nothing short of gut-wrenching. I was an absolute mess, but I pushed through my fear and went. And guess what happened? I never enjoyed a plane ride as much as that one. I was kid-free with no responsibilities for 6 hours. I read. I wrote. I listened to a podcast. It was lovely.

What was even more lovely was meeting my beautiful new niece and her glowing mom at the airport. Then, when I called my kids later, they basically rushed me off the phone. They were with Daddy and busy with one thing or another. They were fine. I was more than fine.

Sure, travel can be scary. But most of our travel fears are irrational. We've all heard it before... the risk of dying in a car crash is far greater than the risk dying in a plane crash. But we get in cars every day. Sure, you might get robbed while traveling, but that risk is likely no greater overseas than in your own city if you are a savvy traveler. And here's the fact that Lexi pointed out in her post- most people are willing to help a foreigner who needs it. Think about it. If you saw a foreigner struggling, you'd do your best to help, wouldn't you? I know I have. Most recently, I helped a German family navigate the "T" (subway system in Boston) . The same is true for people all over the world- they'll try to help, even if you have a language barrier.

So readers, when did you last do something that scared you?

Related Posts
Travel Tuesdays: Take the City Bus, Not the Tour Bus
Travel Tuesdays: Travel Broadens Perspectives
Travel Tuesdays: Exchange Students

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