Be Brave. I find myself constantly muttering this under my breath while I travel. Be brave. If I’m about to jump off a 30 foot platform into central america’s biggest lake, run off the side of a mountain with only a parachute and a prayer to keep me alive, or even just board an airplane to a country where I dont know the language, the geography or one single person.
Be brave is my mantra while I travel. It has to be.
I wouldn’t consider myself a brave person in my everyday life. I wait for the green light to walk. I always wear my seatbelt. I tend to put way too much change in the parking meter. I would never ever do kareoke without a sufficient amount of alcohol and the musical accompaniment of a large group. Sometimes I get nervous trying to get out a complicated coffee order. Nothing too brave here.
But whenever I discuss my previous backpacking adventure or my upcoming trip with interested friends, thats the word that doubtlessly comes up- brave. “Wow, Christine. I would never be able to do that. You are so BRAVE!”
Only, now, 8 days before I leave for the longest and scariest trip I’ve taken yet brave is the last thing I’m feeling. Terrified, anxious, nervous and slightly nauseous are more accurate. With a healthy dose of sad and lonely.
I’ve felt all these things before. About this time, one year ago. Right before I left for my backpacking trip through Central America. Last January I flew down to Mexico and explored six countries by myself. I remember the night before I left, well the night before I left I was up till 3 am trying to stuff my big blue backpack with things I would eventually regret packing. But the night before the night before I left I remember snuggling up in my mom’s bed, almost paralyzed with fear about leaving. I wasn’t a newbie to traveling. My parents had instilled the travel bug in me early by taking our family to adventurous destinations likes Morocco & Portugal. After studying abroad in college I pretty much ran around Europe like it was my own personal playground. But this trip was different. I was about to leave on my first solo backpacking trip. No parents to take care of me, no school program to hold my hand, no friends to watch my back. Just me. Of course I was terrified. But looking back, buying myself a one way ticket to Mexico was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I learned more about myself and the world in 3 months than I learned in my previous 23 years. I learned the world is not a scary place. It is colorful and gorgeous and challenging and fun. And if we all stay in our own little tiny bubbles that we were born in we’ll only discover a microscopic fraction of what this planet has to offer. I learned that feeling alive is not sitting at home updating your facebook status or buying a new pair of shoes or even getting wasted until 4 am and spending the next day in the fetal position. At least not for me. Feeling alive is standing on a rock under a pounding waterfall with nothing to distract you from the sheer force of continuous water beating down on you.
And now I’m about to do it all over again. Different, of course. But I’m sure I’ll encounter the same unexpected obstacles and friendly helping hands. Just different this time. And I can’t wait 🙂