Like most travel-related bloggers, I spend a good amount of time reading other people’s blogs. One of the common topics we travel bloggers blog about is stuff we love – and why not? I love hiking and being in the mountains, so why not tell people about it, right? But all this talk of stuff we love, okay, and a writing competition sponsored by Torre deRoche, has made me think about the flip side that you don’t hear too much about: fear.
Now, I am not talking about the “eww, snakes give me the willies” kind of fear. No, I am talking about true, honest-to-god, punch-you-in-the-gut, makes-tears-well-up-in-your-eyes-just-thinking-about-it fear. That kind of fear.
I don’t consider myself a fearful person by nature, but after thinking about it and making a mental list of fears, well, let’s just say I discovered I have a healthy dose of fear in my life after all. Here is a random smattering of things I am afraid of:
- Losing my wife, Kim. OK, I realize this is cheesy, sappy, and maybe one more feeble attempt to get my wife into the sack, but it’s something I can’t think about for more than a few seconds before my mind races to change subjects. Just thinking about it hurts too much.
- Losing a leg. Kim and I have the conversation “which would you rather lose (one body part) or (another body part)” quite often and this has given me a healthy fear of losing one of my legs, which would seriously inhibit my love of hiking.
- Being abducted by aliens. Seriously. I watched the movie Fire in the Sky with my dad when I was young and it totally freaked me out. That one movie has single-handedly provided me with a host of nightmares for decades.
- Being crazy. This wasn’t on the list initially, but after compiling my list of fears, well, let’s just say not too many dots had to be connected before it earned a place on the list.
I thought about writing about the fear of losing the freedom that a life of travel has provided me, fear of a cubicle (which I think might be more of an allergy, if only I could find a doctor to diagnose cubicleitis…), or how I am afraid of going back home and seeing friends and family who have only become more successful in their jobs whilst I seem to have taken a 10-year step back. But, after giving it some thought, those aren’t really fears, just concerns – stuff I worry about, but when I really think about them and put them into a proper life-perspective, they melt away.
So if these are just my run of the mill, everyday fears and concerns, what is my biggest, baddest, boogie-man-under-my-bed fear – my true fear?
I know this sounds pretty lame. Honesty is scarier to me than alien abductions? Haven’t I watched, oh, I don’t know, Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Mars Attacks, or any other movie that shows the terrifying things that happen when first encounters are made?
Honesty is my biggest fear because it means being true to myself and verbalizing what it is that I really want. I am a people pleaser by nature, and being honest means that I have to set aside my natural first instinct to give the people what they want and instead ask myself what I want.
I am shy by nature and also fairly socially awkward. It has taken years of work to be able to have a normal, casual conversation with people and to quiet the voice in my head that told me every look and comment was someone judging me.
Being honest means putting myself out there, my true self, for everyone to see. This has always been difficult for me. For example, when I write, my first drafts are filled with we’s and you’s, as in “we really enjoyed the experience of…” “you could really feel how sacred the temple is…” I always have to go back and take out the impersonal plural and be honest and say that it’s how I felt or what the experience was like for me.
By now you are probably thinking: what the hell does this have to do with traveling, adventure, or searching for the Yeti – which is what you are in Nepal to do!?
Well, traveling has made me more comfortable in my skin. It has made me be more comfortable being honest with myself and, in turn, being honest with other people (or at least honest in a less awkward way). Learning to be honest with myself has made me a happier person and relieved a TON of general anxiety that I didn’t know I had before.
Being honest with myself has helped me realize other things about myself as well. Instead of dismissing religion and spirituality as something that can be explained away by my bright and shiny college degree, I realize that it is something I envy when I see it in other people. If I am being honest, faith is something that is lacking in my life and I am jealous of those who have it.
Oh, and being stared at in India nearly every moment I walked down the street has helped with that ‘they are judging me’ feeling, too.
Honesty. That’s my fear. That’s what keeps me up at night and ties my stomach in knots more than anything else. It’s the Yeti that’s always on my back.
It might be kinda lame, but it’s the honest truth.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press
“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com
“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail