How Traveling Helped Me Face My Fears & Live The Life Of My Dreams
What's your biggest fear? Sharks can be pretty intimidating, and don't even get me started on spiders. Staying at home is so much better than dealing with awkward friend drama, and don't put me down for anything that involves heights, OK? In all seriousness, though, your fears tend to drive your life. Some of them can take hold of the steering wheel, and often pull you in the opposite direction of your dreams. But, how traveling helped me face my fears amazes me to this day, and could help you live your best life, too.
My first experience with traveling was studying abroad. Before then, I had taken trips to Disney World and an island in the Caribbean with my family — but, that doesn't quite count in my head. You see, spending four months in Italy changed everything for me. It took all of my fears and threw them into the wind from the second my passport got stamped. I found myself hiking cliffs along the coast and going on spontaneous excursions. Traveling became my passion, and I wanted nothing more than to hop back on a plane.
So, I booked more flights and started seeing places that were closer to home. Over time, I got comfortable with navigating airports, and faced even more of my fears. Turns out, the life of my dreams was waiting for me at the gate. You ready? Let's go.
1. I Became Comfortable With Navigating Airports
Buying plane tickets and navigating airports had always been super stressful to me. I thought you needed a travel agent or airline connections to get to where you wanted to go. (That's not quite the case.)
As I started to travel more, I became comfortable with getting myself a seat, and hopping on flights to other places in the world. I actually fell in love with flying, and got a routine down in the airport. First, I focus on getting through security, and then I'll grab a sandwich or smoothie before finding my gate. Assuming there's enough time, I may even call one of my friends and catch up on what's happening at home.
2. I Learned To Overcome Any Obstacles
Language barriers are very real, and can be a reason why you don't travel to another country. You may be nervous that you won't be able to get around a new city or order food at a restaurant. It's truly a "getting outside of your comfort zone" kind of thing.
Before I started traveling around the world, I thought that these sorts of obstacles would always stand in my way. I considered studying abroad in a place that already spoke English, and spent a few months hitting the books and attempting to become bilingual. Finding my way around the airport in Amsterdam and getting a panini in Florence was much easier than I thought it would be. At the end of the day, there wasn't any obstacle that couldn't be overcome.
3. I Fell In Love With Doing Things Spontaneously
You could go into every trip with a plan, or you could see what the universe has in store. Yes, you want to make sure you have accommodations (like a super cute, millennial pink Airbnb in Barcelona), and a general idea of where to go. But, there's something to be said for chasing memories instead of a schedule.
I'm an anxious person, but traveling helped me face a lot of my fears and live a more spontaneous life. Back in the day, I wanted to know what was going to happen every minute, and wasn't a huge fan of going off the beaten path. That all changed, and now I'm booking plane tickets and saying to my friends, "We'll figure it out when we get there."
4. I Taught Myself To Enjoy Being Alone
Traveling taught me that being alone isn't so scary, after all. Sure, adventures are always better with a buddy, but I'm happy to have experienced some parts of the world all on my own. Those are memories and moments that I'll cherish forever, and share with only myself.
It wasn't until just recently that I learned this lesson and discovered the difference between "being alone" and "being lonely." I hopped on a plane to Chicago to see one of my college friends, and navigated the airport like a pro. I sat at the gate with my suitcase and watched the people run from one side of the airport to the next. In that moment, I was so content and enjoyed my company more than ever before. Who knew that would've happened?
5. I Also Realized You Don't Always Have To Be Alone
Life is all about balance, and traveling taught me to reach out to people and make connections. You may be surprised about how many humans on this planet share the same passions as you. Your closest family member or best friend was waiting around to travel the world, too. Now, you're doing it together and pushing each other to discover what else is out there. See how that works?
Especially if you're an introvert, being alone may come natural to you. But, some experiences are made better by sharing it with others. You can make memories alone, or surround yourself with dreamers and adventurers. It wasn't until I started traveling that I realized there's a whole group of people out there, just like me.
6. I Decided The Sky Wasn't The Limit Anymore
Before I started traveling, I lived my life in such a bubble. There were five-year plans and unlimited amounts of excuses. Why wasn't I living my best life? Well, I was too tired or didn't have the time. Note to self: Think again.
Traveling makes you put everything you once knew aside, and embrace an entirely different perspective. Suddenly, your world becomes so much bigger, and so do your dreams. I found that experiencing the world was a passion of mine, and I began to pursue it. Sure, there are so many people out there who are doing the same thing, but why can't you be one of them? Reach for the sky, and then touch the stars.
7. I Embraced Every Embarrassing Moment
Being embarrassed is the worst (in my personal opinion). But, traveling taught me to embrace those moments and every other second of discomfort that would come my way. Sometimes, I'd trip on the metro stairs, or look beyond lost in a sea of people at the airport. (Not to mention, taking blogger-style pictures in public is always an interesting situation.) It happens, OK?
Instead of letting my fear take charge of my life, I hopped on planes, trains, and automobiles anyway. I trusted my gut and followed my inner compass no matter where I went. My traveling is far from over, so I'm sure there's many more embarrassing moments to come. This time around, though, I'm not so scared. Ready, set, let's go.