A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.
US admiral & computer scientist (1906 – 1992)
Fear is overrated. There, I said it! And I mean it, too.
Fear keeps us from pursuing our dreams and living a life that we love. The reasons "why not" are given so much more of a voice in our internal voting system than they deserve. It's as if the Fear Corporation hired a bunch of hotshot lobbyists to make sure the Fun & Adventure Company got legislated out of existence. Why do we venerate mediocrity, routine, and doing what is expected of us? (It's the bananas, isn't it?)
I just read this article by Chris Gillebeau over at The Art Of Non-Conformity and LOVED it! So very many quotable things that really capture my feelings on travel, change, risks, and life. This paragraph sums it up perfectly:
…we tend to focus on the sensational and the dangerous, rare as it might be. A few sensational anecdotes outweigh hundreds of “I went to this place and it was about what I expected.” And secondly, choosing to focus on the negatives gives everyone else an excuse not to pursue a big dream. “Look what happened to him… better to stick to the world I already know.”
It's funny that as I plan my upcoming trip to Morocco — something that I am TOTALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO! — quite often the first reaction I hear is along the lines of, "My friend's sister went there and got harrassed!" From an etiquette standpoint, part of me wonders why anyone would want to rain on my parade. (Of course, etiquette and I are not really that well acquainted, so that could explain it; maybe there's a chapter titled Scaring The Buhjeezus Out Of People in the Emily Post book.) I am obviously over the moon with excitement about this trip, a birthday present from my wonderful hubby, so why would you do that? If I bought a new pair of shoes, would your first reaction be to tell me, "You'll probably step in a big pile of dog doo with those"? Really?! Come on!
As for the fear question, yes, just like in Egypt, there are those merchants who really push and do the hard sell of their shirts, carvings, and other baubles. And yes, I'm sure just like in California, there are men who whistle and leer and occasionally attempt inappropriate touching. There might even be pickpockets like in Rome and Naples, good heavens! …But what I hear over and over from people who have actually been there, and people who live there, is that Morocco is just as beautiful, dirty, mystical, fantastic, rough around the edges, grounding, and adventurous as you'd imagine — and the people are fabulous. Wherever you are in the world, you look both ways before you cross the street, so what's the big deal?
Have a peek at Josh Fraser's talk to get some perspective:
"The most dangerous thing you can do is play it safe."
When someone says to me, "stay home; it's safer," what I hear is, "you will be rewarded for being cowardly," and my heart breaks a little. Without stepping outside my comfort zone, I never would have traveled, much less moved, overseas. I would not have signed up for Couchsurfing, I would not have visited Tanzania, I would not have camped on Mt. Etna, I would not have tried sushi, I would not have met my wonderful husband… a million things, big and little, that have shaped my life.
I am tempted to quote Chris's article some more, but really, I think you should just go read it. He points out, in a nice, succinct way, why fears have an inordinate amount of weight in our decision-making process.
If you think your fears are rational and well-founded, I'll refer you once more to Josh Fraser's video. "Logic" yourself into a place of adventure by eliminating irrational stopping blocks. Name and question the fear. It's probably not the monster under the bed you thought it was.
Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
On the other hand, if you don't feel constrained by the mind, but instead have a vague feeling you can't quite clarify, try to define the feelings for FUN and ACCOMPLISHMENT instead. …What does that feel like? Feels pretty great!
Next, ask: How do you get to that happy place from here? What would make that happen in real life? Whatever the answers, go with it! You can do it!
How have you overcome one of your fears?