A lot of people know that I am heading out on my next big journey. This time to South East Asia, where I have never been before. People, for the last couple of weeks, have been asking ‘Are you excited?’ I know they’ve all been expecting a resounding ‘YES!’, but they’ve all gotten a different answer.
‘No, I’m not excited. Right now I’m scared. I’ll be excited when I actually make it to Yangon, Myanmar.’
Yes, you heard it, straight from me. I’m scared.
For those of you who seem to think I’m an old pro at traveling the world, you’re only seeing the outside. Inside, my stomach has been churning for weeks. In fact, I nearly had a panic attack when I booked the flights in May, confirming that I would actually be going. Since then, the fear has grown. I try to keep it under control and not let it overtake my life, but I have to admit, it does overtake my excitement.
So, right now, no, unfortunately I’m not excited. I’m stressed.
For years, on and off, I’ve seen a counsellor for many reasons, not the least of which is to deal with issues from the plane crash that I was in, in 1997. I know not everyone knows that I was in a real live plane crash (well, now you do), and sometimes people just forget, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to board a plane I think about that crazy-scary night in December 1997. It’s been 16 years, but it just isn’t something that you forget. And, with each day as my departure gets closer I think about it more and more.
A couple of weeks ago I was in talking to my counsellor and she said something to me about my fear that made sense. (She often does make sense, that’s why I see her!)
She had said that it’s very brave of me to be going on this big journey alone. I wasn’t feeling very brave, I was overcome with fear. What she told me is that the difference between the two is that someone who is brave isn’t any less scared, they just choose to face their fear and move forward, rather than letting their fear consume them.
Well, how could I argue with that?
Hearing this from someone else made it so clear to me that having fear is actually alright. I can’t push it away because it is natural, but I have accepted it and stopped beating myself up over it. And, most importantly, I’m not giving in to it.
I’ve struggled with this for 16 years. It is a big part of me as it was a life changing event. For nearly 11 of those years, I let the fear consume me and I refused to fly. I wouldn’t even consider it.
For the last six years, I’ve faced that fear. The fear doesn’t ever go away though.
I am about to embark on the longest journey (in distance) that I have been on. The farthest away from home, the longest flights and the most plane / airport changes to get to my final destination.
When I get back home to Canada in September, you should give me a hug … I’ll need one after all of this travel.
It is not going to be easy, but I am going to do it.
Maybe the biggest lesson I learned from the plane crash (and have been reminded of through regular travel), is to be thankful. Thankful that I survived that plane crash so that I have the opportunity to see the world. The crash wasn’t meant to hold me back, it was meant to catapult me forward to bigger and better things, new adventures, new opportunities, new challenges and most importantly, living life.