Bonjour. Szia. Guten tag. Hello. So many ways to greet someone and I feel as those I should say greet you all again as it has been sometime since I have gotten a post out. I apologize for my writing absence. I have been travelling, with limited Internet access or time, for the past two weeks. Instead of rushing out half assed posts filled with trifling garbage; I decided to wait until my return to write something more meaningful.
I have had a desire to write this post for some time now, but I wanted to wait until I was done with my trip in order to give it some deeper context and clarity in my mind. So, I sit on the plane ride home, writing with a furious abandon, because I could not contain my excitement. I am basking in the afterglow of a beautiful journey that has left me full of words and, more than that, pregnant with a message I wanted to bring to the audience that consumes my silly meanderings.
The details of my trip are not necessary for me to go into. Suffice to say, I took a two-week, solo trip into the heart of Eastern Europe. It was a journey that, before departing, I did not want to admit had me very fearful. I have traveled to foreign countries alone in the past but never for that long and never so unstructured. I had a place to stay. I had a few things I wanted to do but I had no other plan then to explore a distant, foreign land alone, and that scared the shit out of me.
But I did it. I did it to prove to myself that I could. I did it to prove to others that it is possible. I did it because I know there is so much treasure hidden beneath the couch cushions of life; waiting to be swept up by the greedy, desperate hands of fearless, travelling souls. But mostly, I did it because it scared me so much, that I knew I had to do it.
There were moments where it was hard. I lost tickets home to places and was nearly stranded multiple times. I scurried like a nervous insect trying to understand the languages I came across and what that meant for how to act and what to eat and where to go. I got terribly ill for a stretch and suffered through it alone – bed ridden and cursing my luck and loneliness – with no understanding of what sort of medicine I could take that would help. I wandered through dark, imposing alleys that housed shadows that moved like ghosts and footsteps that were imagined thieves coming up to rob and kill me but nothing ever hit me so hard that it ruined me.
There were also so many amazing moments. The cities I explored – lit by lights like a million dancing candles that still glow when I shut my eyes. The sounds – foreign languages and sounds lilting through the air like new perfumes of flowers I have never chanced to smell before. The people – ancient friends I just now met but will now have for a lifetime – met over a drink or a joke or a shared inconvenience that was made the easier by the sharing. The memories – the personal things that can only be exchanged secondhand through nostalgic stories that try, but never fully reach, the depth of the experience. And those things were so powerful that they changed me.
And that is the thing about facing your fears and moving towards something you really want. The bad is never as strong as the good and the bad never affects you as much as the good does, because facing your fears, and moving into your discomforts, is usually a controlled sort of experience. Like riding a roller coaster or jumping from a plane with a parachute or taking a new job or getting married or having children or starting an exercise routine or moving far away from home towards something you really want or any of the million things we are faced with everyday that scares the shit out of us. It’s all scary but it is usually never so terrifying that it could destroy us.
Is there a chance it could all go wrong and you could be left sad and alone and questioning your decisions? Yes. There is always that chance in life. To be unceremoniously thrown into the path of oncoming reality through circumstances beyond your control, but there is not always the chance to have the thrill, the heart thumping excitement, the utter life changing beauty and the creation of armor like courage that comes from approaching something you fear and conquering it. Because in doing something that seems so overwhelming, so tremendously impossible and so far outside the realm of your comfort zone, you come out completely changed.
Because that is what facing your fear is – it is a changing of your being. When you stare down the barrel of the shit that terrifies you, and you defeat it, you are never the same. Your old thoughts and beliefs and ideas don’t hold the same sort of polished, majestic shine they once did and the things that used to scare you are simply childhood bogeymen that hold no more fright. You realize that your thoughts and beliefs and fears are not carved into stone. They are now malleable pieces of clay that can be forever changed and reshaped and you never again face the real danger of becoming so hard and set that you are at risk of shattering should you have to face your fears and change again.
Although I set this message against my own recent experience, I am obviously not talking only about the fear that can come with travel. The idea touches every aspect of our lives. It is the process of reaching outside your comfort zone towards something that you know you want but are afraid to go after. To that I say this; everything worth having, everything you truly want out of life, and everything that will make you the person you want to become, is on the other side of fear. There is no growth, no success and no victory that does not begin with fear, wind its way into discomfort, and bring you out on the other side of true growth. It is to fear that we should align our compass, because it is the best determinant of the direction we should be headed in our lives if we want to have the most impact on them.
So, do things that scare the shit out of you. Do things that have no instant resolution and no discernible path outside of doing them. Do things that others say you are crazy for doing or that others say they could never do, because those are the things that need doing. Not just for yourself – so you can grow and become the fearless fucking monster of life you want to be – but because other people need to see you doing them so they can see that what they think is impossible is only something that lives on the other side of a chasm of fear and if they force themselves to traverse that rickety, swinging bridge to the other side they will come away with something dangerously close to absolute freedom.
And why do I say it is absolute freedom? Because you will finally be free to believe that anything is possible in you, and that is the strongest freedom there is. You will believe that, despite the odds or the struggles or the millions of significant and not so significant doubts that you juggle in your head and convince you to play it safe, that all that matters is facing those fearful moments of your life head on and conquering them or learning from them. There is no losing. There is only another chance or victory and there is always something to be learned from either.
So as my plane finds it’s way towards it’s homeward destination – with the fasten seatbelt light coming on and the restlessness of weary passengers creating a cacophony of excited chatter and movement – I leave you in much the same way I started; with a few of the many ways to depart. Au revoir. Viszontlátásra. Auf Wiedersehen. Goodbye.
But remember this, when you travel, as when you face your fears and move forward in life, goodbye never means you are leaving. It means you are going somewhere else. It means you are taking with you the experiences you accumulated. It means you are moving towards a different, better future and destination because you faced something that helped you grow and you became stronger, more courageous and much more capable of facing your fears in the future.
And you get to take all those things and scatter them like ashes throughout the rest of your life. And those ashes of experiences are the fertilizer of new dreams, new wants, new desires and a new life. That is what facing your fear brings you; a constant phoenix like resurrection of your life. To be born from those ashes of conquered fear time and time again. It is that constant struggle and excitement of facing your fears that brings the ability to always return to your life more limitless and more beautiful then you ever thought you could be.