Have you ever done the “rocking chair test”? You know, the one where you imagine yourself in old age, in your rocking chair, reflecting on your life? You contemplate whether you’re happy, whether you lived your life well, whether you have any regrets?
It’s my favourite reflection tool and I do it on a regular basis. For over a decade, the same regret has come up for me… travel. Not regretting travel I’ve done, but regretting travel I haven’t done. I mean, I’ve travelled a little bit. My parents took me to the usual overseas places Aussie kids go… Bali, Fiji and Cairns, but beyond that I haven’t really done a lot.
It’s surprising, considering I’m someone who loves to explore, try new things, and experience culture. So what’s been holding me back? To be honest, I’m still working that out but I think it has to do with fear (I mean… doesn’t everything?). In order to travel, I would have to get really out of my comfort zone, I’d probably make mistakes, I’d have to be really responsible, and I’d most likely put myself in dangerous situations.
There’s also the FOMO factor. In my 20s I was very determined to be available for as many modelling jobs as possible, the thought of missing out on “my big break” was too overwhelming for me. Mind you, my big break never came, and I spent all that time not travelling! There were also all the social events that I might miss out on if I were travelling… the fear of not knowing what people were talking about when I came back triggered old primary school feelings of exclusion. My friends, however, travelled on a regular basis and seemed to fit seamlessly back into the circle, with exciting tales to tell, so it can’t just be that.
I suppose money was a bit of an obstacle. I’ve always found saving a challenge, and of course, you can’t travel without savings. In order to be able to travel, you usually have to make a few sacrifices, give up a few luxuries, and work a bit harder to stash away as much as you can. Sacrifice is a skill I’m still building (I WANT IT ALL!). If it’s not already clear… I live a pretty privileged life.
And then there’s the guilt… I’m not sure where the story came from but travelling always seemed to be reserved for the rich, the lucky, and the retired. Maybe if I’d been open to backpacking I might’ve had a different idea about travelling, but living in a hostel with a bunch of strangers was absolutely terrifying to me. On some level, I didn’t feel I deserved to travel, I hadn’t worked hard enough to deserve a break from anything, I should be at home, slaving away.
I think the biggest fear for me is the “what if?” aspect. I’m really good at catastrophising! I can conjure up all sorts of horrific events that COULD happen whilst we’re travelling… robbery, set ups, abduction, natural disasters, mass shootings, or just a plain old crappy time. Even the little things that would make me feel uncomfortable or stressed are enough to talk me out of travelling… getting lost, making a booking error, falling ill, language barriers etc. etc…. I can think of so many reasons why NOT to travel.
But, at the end of the day, (or the end of my time), if I don’t face my fear, get out there and explore, I KNOW I’ll be kicking myself in my rocking chair. And if I can get out of my comfort zone and take the leap, I can open myself up to a world of possibilities, experiences, lessons, skills, memories, quality time with my family, and an understanding of myself that I just couldn’t gain from staying in one place.
So… this year… I’m going to conquer my fear of travelling! I promise myself that I will go somewhere I’ve never been before, somewhere a whole day away, somewhere that gets me out of my comfort zone, forces me to be responsible, fix my mistakes, and learn how to keep myself safe. Here goes…
I love helping others conquer their fears, so if travelling’s been on your bucket list for a while and you need help getting into action click HERE