Aren’t you scared?

This is the question I’ve been asked more than anything (even more often than ‘have any free candy?’, and trust me, I get that one a LOT).  “Aren’t you scared of traveling alone? Of hiking by yourself? Of being in strange towns where you don’t know anyone?”

The short answer is: YES.  I definitely get scared, at the weirdest and frequently the most inconvenient of times.

The long answer is, although I may get scared, I’m not going to let that stop me from living my life.  Conquering fears has always been something I’ve strived for.  What am I afraid of?  Getting hopelessly lost, my van breaking down in the middle of nowhere and leaving me stranded, hiking in the dark, crossing paths with a serial killer while camped at your local Walmart… you know, the normal stuff (trust me, it’s a long list).

Sometimes fear is rational, and necessary- like, I probably should be a bit nervous hiking along the edge of steep cliffs, and that healthy fear keeps me from being a total ditz and cartwheeling off a ridge or something.  Other fears though- they aren’t so rational, but have a tendency to cripple our abilities to embrace life fully… and that’s a huge bummer.

My personal and completely unprofessional/ not backed by any research opinion is, if you analyze what specifically you are afraid of, you can find ways to negate some of that fear.  For example, say you’re hesitant to go on a solo hike because you’re worried about getting lost.  Okay- download maps to use offline, research and track your route using GPS, learn how to navigate with a compass, whatever it takes to make you feel more prepared and comfortable.  I believe it’s been a beautiful balance of research/ planning combined with a “whatever, it’ll be fine, just go for it” attitude that have gotten me safely though most of my endeavors in life.  Not surprisingly, the times where I’m most nervous about doing something, usually result in the best experiences and my prouder moments.


Solo backpacking trip in Canada- 2 days, 46ish miles

Bonus- the more you push yourself to pursue what scares you, the easier it gets- and the more limitless your life becomes.  I remember the first time I went hiking by myself years ago: 5 miles on a heavily trafficked trail had never seemed so daunting.  Or how I used to be incredibly nervous driving 4 hours from home on my own (and here I am, 11,000? miles into a solo road trip around the country… well, two countries technically).  As Muay Thai fighter Kevin Ross preaches: “Face your fears, live your dreams”.

Being afraid is okay, it’s normal, it would actually be abnormal if you were never scared; how you handle that fear is the important factor.

Ultimately I suppose there’s going to be times where you can only do so much to make something easier or less intimidating to face.  These moments give you the opportunity to make the scary and bold decision to confront your concerns head on in order to do whatever it is you want to do.  Or don’t- and live with the knowledge that you let fear make decisions on your behalf.  I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly something I’d like to avoid.

Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


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