July 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

     Today I want to drift away from my typical theme of travel and adventure to talk about basically the complete opposite topic; Fear. 

     Fear is a driving factor behind a lot of excuses and limits you place on yourself. It distracts us from living life to its fullest potential. And there are tons of things out in this big wide world that you can be scared of, including traveling.

     At what point does fear become unhealthy? When do we decide to fight the instinct to flee in an effort to face the things that scare us the most?

     No need to fear fear itself, I am here with my loud opinions and solutions. 

Fear; an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

     As a whole, I have seen a lot, but not near "it all." I  pride myself on never fearing anything. But that left me wondering what and why others get scared of the things that drive my adventures. Fear is something we learn, it is not something we are born with. When we are born, we are trusting. We see our loving mothers protect us from the world. Then one day we fall off the monkey bars and get hurt. Our mothers rush over in panic and the fear begins. But we have to be exposed to the world and all of its pain. Our mothers cannot protect us forever. We have to look fear right in the eye and then get right back on the monkey bars. For children that is so easy, but the older we get the more fear we experience. And that is totally okay. 

      What's not okay is when we allow these irrational thoughts of pain and suffering to control our lives.

     For example, as a kid I loved turbulence on plane rides. It was like a mid-air rollercoaster ride. But I saw my mother get just a little scared every time; that would be the start of a learned fear. There is one other ingredient needed to fully cultivate fear; knowledge. I continued to live my life fearlessly enjoying turbulence. Then I grew up and started paying attention to the news. After the past year's missing and downed planes I was more cautious. I approached the turbulence on the way to Germany with complete crippling fear. I knew of things happening and then I understood my mother's fear. I also knew the unlikely statistics of anything actually happening. Two things helped me overcome my sudden fear;

  1. Phil Dumphy's quote from Modern Family that goes along the lines that as long as the stewardess is still handing out drinks and smiling you are fine. 
  2. My love for travel. Am I going to live my life in fear of the journey so much that I never go out anymore? Absolutely not!  

     On the way back home I still experienced that instant fear when turbulence hit but I didn't panic. Yeah it will always be a little scary but I will just sip my complementary drinks and airline cookies and get over it. 


Tips to overcome Fear


     Being scared is okay because it is something you can defeat and when you do you will better yourself. Having trouble overcoming fear? Follow these tips that I use to kick fear in the butt. *Warning: these tips are not for everyone and will not always work. Possible side effects may cause more fear

  1.  Why are you scared? Is it a personal experience? If you fell off the monkey bars you have to get back on. Avoiding them will ruin your life. You have to face what it is that you are scared of and prove to your irrational mind that it is all fine and could even be fun.
  2. Educate yourself on the statistics. Sure your plane could crash but you are more likely to get into a car accident and most accidents happen during take off and landing, not mid-flight. This is good for mid-flight turbulence panic and to assure yourself while you are in the act of conquering your fear. 
  3. Reward yourself. You got back on the bars and maybe you are still scared but go get yourself some ice cream. You deserve it.
  4. Don't give up on yourself. It will probably take more than one try to overcome your fear. It's okay to try and chicken out the first few times. Just always push yourself further. 


Irrational Fear versus Rational/Appropriate Fear


     I also want to talk about the difference between healthy and unhealthy fears. 

     Irrational fears are things caused by always assuming, but never actually experiencing, the worst. The monkey bars are a great example. You heard Suzzie fell and broke her arm so now you are too scared to go on them because you believe that you might break your arm. This is foolish and irrational. Maybe you will get hurt but maybe it will be the best experience you will ever have. Now replace monkey bars with basically anything; 

  • different food - food poisoning - new favorite meal
  • visiting/traveling somewhere new - mugging - life changing experience
  • marriage - divorce - Life long happiness and love

     You don't always know what the outcome will be. And you wont until you try it. Maybe it ends badly, but you will recover and move on.

     Now there are some fears that we need to have because they make us human. The hard part is preventing these fears from crippling and controlling our lives. These are fears we develop after we turn 20 and start realistically thinking about the future. They are incredibly personal and individual. I just recently had my first encounter with this kind of fear and I will tell you how I kept them from controlling my life. But these fears you need to figure out and conquer yourself.

     The first fear was spun from two terrible nightmares involving my parents. They were doing things common and typical to their personalities and then got hurt badly. When I woke up I started to think about what will happen if my parents actually get really sick/hurt. Starting this August, they will be empty nesters and they aren't getting younger or healthier. This is my first real adult fear. I instantly wanted to run home and never leave. I felt like I had to be there just incase something would happen.

     But I had to remind myself that my parents don't want me moving back in anytime soon and also they really don't want me to put my dreams and goals on hold because I am scared of them getting old. Things will happen. They will get hurt and sick but I am only a phone call and plane ride away. I will always be scared, that will never go away. But I refuse to allow that to stop me from doing what I love. 

     Around the same time, and probably as result of the first rational fear, came a second fear, about my future career. Photojournalism is hard. There is no guaranteed income, especially in the ever changing digital media market. But people will always go out for dinner. I irrationally convinced myself that food service was a good safe job and maybe I couldn't make it in photojournalism. 

    Honestly, I know for a fact I would be miserable in food service the rest of my life. It was the thought of a stable income that sounded good.  It took a lot to remind myself that I picked Photojournalism because it's hard. I never actually wanted boring and stable. I am an adrenaline junkie seeking adventure. I want a career I love and I am passionate about. The fact that it is hard is what has driven me to want it even more over the years. 

      We will always be scared. There will be hundreds of things we fear. But you cannot ever let fears cripple your life. Just as you have to fear to keep you grounded in the reality of the things you love, you have to know how to quell the voices in your head preventing you from living life to its fullest. Not everyone can be crazy thrill seeking sky diving enthusiast, but start with the monkey bars. Most importantly, allow yourself to experience the beautiful in the sights, smells and tastes of the world. Live to fall and fall in love. Always have a wandering mind and traveling spirit. 



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