How many times in your life have you been paralyzed by fear of the unknown?
I’m fairly certain that answer is just about every adult
My high school graduation in the late 80s was the first time I experienced this feeling. Walking the stage in my purple cap and gown, I was both elated and scared to death knowing I was leaving for college the next morning. To put even more pressure on my shoulders, I would be starting classes the following day after being moved in to the dorms. I had no idea what to expect–I was just a sheltered suburban girl who worked all through high school and didn’t party or date. That fear felt like I was walking around with a bubble above my head. All those negative feelings–anxiety, uncertainty, lack of self confidence, and worry were clearly inside that bubble ready to escape once the bubble burst.
What I learned very quickly was how those feelings are also exciting, thrilling, completely natural, and would most certainly happen again.
Throughout the years, I went on several adventures that formed that bubble once again over my head. I moved to the east coast after college graduation for a job and then moved back to California a year later to experience San Francisco. Both turned out to be great decisions and the paths I took to achieve those goals, in hindsight, weren’t scary at all–just thrilling.
My biggest adventure–the one I spent many sleepless nights agonizing over what to expect, was a road trip around the country. After giving up my cute San Francisco apartment and lifestyle, I knew full well I would never move back. I put all my stuff in storage and traveled around the country in my car visiting friends I hadn’t seen in years and traveling to places I had never been to. It was just me, my car and the open road. It was the best, most rewarding decision I ever made. Once I got on the road, that fear of the unknown dissipated and instead, I felt strong, exhilarated, and clear minded.
The saying goes, “hindsight is always better than foresight” and that is completely true. Every time I embarked on some kind of adventure, new job, or first date, all that anxiety I was holding on to was for nothing. Even now, when I think back on those times in my life, its nostalgia I feel. I barely even remember being scared.
I am currently experiencing it right now with an adventure I have planned this summer. I am volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitation center this summer in South Africa and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. Am I nervous? Absolutely. Scared about what could go wrong? Of course. But if hindsight has taught me anything, I will be just fine and once its over wonder why I was scared to begin with.