Four years ago I went to Peru by myself.
Well, I should say four years ago I forced myself to go to Peru, by myself.
I’d wanted to travel desperately! But of course my husband was not interested in going and none of friends had the money or inclination to go either.
Hell, I didn’t have the money or inclination but I wanted to travel and was getting older and knew I had to start somewhere, so I booked a trip.
I booked said trip with an all women tour group. It was all-inclusive and they took care of everything. That seemed like a smart choice for a first time, solo traveller.
I still had to get myself to a meeting place and I still had to get a hotel room and arrange transportation within the city to get myself to the meeting place. I didn’t want to fly out of Lima without seeing Lima, so exploring Lima became a thing too.
This all seems rather usual and typical, right?
Have I ever mentioned I have an anxiety disorder? Once or three million times, right?
Have I mentioned I was scared shitless? Not just anxious anxious but AFRAID? Very, very AFRAID?
Have I mentioned I was so scared at the thought of this trip that I actually grew physically ill every.single.time I thought of it?
Which was every day. For eighteen months.
I was sick a lot.
I wanted to cancel SO many times, for SO many different reasons! But I knew, I’d be SO angry at myself if I did because I knew, all my reasons and excuses were really all about fear. Fuck you fear. Fuck you.
You how I always talk about how promises you make to yourself are sacred? This was one I made and kept before I had even developed true awareness of such a thing.
And it changed my life.
Was my trip perfect? Nope. Nothing major happened to me but I still felt anxious and made mistakes and embarrassed myself and felt stupid and suffered and struggled.
This is what I realized though, none of that was different from any other day in my life. I was just doing it in another country.
Was my trip awful, even with all my “stuff”? Nope! Quite the opposite. Even with my usual anxious nonsense my trip was amazing. Life changing! Travelling to Peru by myself, meeting up and mixing in with a group of strangers, hiking the Inka fucking trail as a 230lb woman with zero hiking experience, showed me who I am.
I am tough. I am strong. I am resilient. I am adaptable. I might feel anxious and dumb and uncomfortable but I am still capable of challenging myself and enjoying life. I am still capable of moving through tough times, on my own.
After that trip, my relationship with fear and anxiety changed. Was I cured?
Nope. But I was altered. And I was empowered and emboldened. And I did develop an entirely new set of parameters for my life and how I engage with fear.
Oh yes, I still struggle and stumble and fumble my way around blindly in the dark but somehow I always find myself holding hands with fear and anxiety, jumping off the old cliffs into the unknown. Time and time again.
In the fall of this year, I’m traveling to Tanzania by myself. I’m going on a safari and a hike with a group of strangers and I’m visiting some women’s cooperatives with a group of strangers and then I’m going by myself to Zanzibar.
Am I scared?
Yes. A little. When I think about being by myself in Arusha for a day, I get that feeling. When I think about being by myself in Zanzibar for four days, I feel slightly ill.
But am I going to forgo a dream safari/hiking trip because I’m afraid to be in Arusha by myself?
Am I going to not go to Zanzibar and lie on the beach, swim in the Indian Ocean, go on a spice tour, explore the old city, et all because of a little fear of the unknown?
Not a fucking chance.
The thing is, even with this wee bit of fear I know I have come so far! When I travelled to Peru I was afraid of everything. Now I’m just afraid of two things. That, my friends, is a vast improvement.
When I went to Peru, I had everything planned down to the last second,a year in advance. This time, I’m 6 months out and still haven’t squared away all my transportation/accommodation needs.
Yeah, yeah. I’ll get on that.
The thing is, fear lies. Some of us, live with fear every day and some of us meet it just a few times but either way, fear is a lying asshole.
Don’t listen to it. Listen to yourself and do what you want. It will get better with time and practice. I promise. Go find out for yourself.