When I was 5 years old, I saw a leaf floating on an 8 ft. swimming pool. It was a huge red leaf and I wanted to play with it. So I knelt down beside the pool and tried to reach for the leaf. As I extended my hand, I fell into the pool and sunk to the bottom. I couldn’t remember exactly what happened next but the entire incident stayed with me. That’s why 26 years later, I still don’t know how to swim.
I also broke my nose once when I was about 8. I fell flat on the floor and my nose cracked. The pain was unbearable and blood was all over my face and shirt. It was so traumatic that until now my nose sports an invisible CAN’T TOUCH THIS warning sign.
These events, among many, led me to my daily nightmare: FEAR. Fear has always been a part of my life. In fact, I probably have more fears than the average Joe/Rica. Aside from the fear of drowning or the fear of a frisbee flying towards my nose, the biggest fear I have at the moment, as an adult, is the fear of losing security.
I think I’m not alone when it comes to this type of fear. We all want the best, we all want the easiest way out, we all want to be comfortable. But last year, when I decided to follow my dreams, SECURITY itself became a hindrance to what I wanted to do. Then I asked myself how much I wanted my dream to come true. I realized afterwards that if I don’t do anything about my dream, I’ll end up regretting everything, and I don’t want that to happen.
So I took a deep breath and said to myself: I have to let go of my fears, period. Easier said than done but I just had to.
To tell you the truth, it’s a never-ending process, but it feels good to be doing something about it. Because fear is hindrance to progress. Fear stops us from doing what we want in life. Fear makes us vulnerable. We can’t let it rule us.
FEAR OF LOSING SECURITY
As a 31 year old female from the Philippines, society expects me to:
a. Get married
b. Have a nice home
c. Have a nice car
d. Have a kid or two
e. Go to work, go home, cook, spend Sundays with the brood
f. Succeed in the corporate world
All of what society expects, however, are not part of my bucket list. A few weeks from now, I’m going to take the first step in reaching my dream: I will travel alone for a month, stay in $10 or less hostels or dormitories, explore off the grid places, and come back with an empty bank account. Why am I risking my security for this dream?
When I “drowned”, I remember not getting up afterwards. Maybe because I was a kid and I had no choice. Now that I have a choice, I choose to face whatever comes my way in order for me to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling the world (one step at a time). I know that everything is at stake, but how can I reach my dream if I stay in my comfort zone or rely on assurance?
FEAR OF DEATH
I’ve always feared death but I became more paranoid in 2011, the year I attended more funerals than birthday parties.
A good friend of mine lost his dad and 2 sisters in a fire accident.
A former officemate took his own life.
A good friend’s dad passed away.
A good friend dear to me (who’s a year older) passed away due to health complications.
I was still recuperating from all the funerals when another batchmate in college, whom we considered as the bubbliest, most energetic person who personified life, died unexpectedly.
I felt scared, disturbed and emotionally drained for weeks. At one point, I couldn’t think of anything but my mortality – giving up junk food, coke, chocolates, and greasy stuff to save my health (as if!!!)!
Enter 2012, and still far from recovering from the smell of funeral flowers, I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. I wanted to drink a glass of Vodka to calm my nerves (which I used to do ALOT) but my cardiologist told me to stop drinking if I don’t want my next appointment to be at the ER. I was so haunted by death that everything felt like a rollercoaster ride.
But the passing of people I know ultimately led me to accept reality and realize that I cannot waste my time. For some people, traveling alone with a health condition may sound risky. But if I continue to think about it this way, I will NEVER get out of my house. I will never see the temples of Bagan or experience the beauty of Luang Prabang. These places are not even covered by my health insurance (I have to go to the bigger cities), but I realized that if I continue to wrap myself in fear of dying, then I will never live.
FEAR OF BEING “TOLD”
When I shared my plans to other people, I didn’t hear positive things outright. So many BUTS, WHAT IFS, DONT’S, and NOs. And I’m not even out for a year (hello!)! Well, Philippine society is quite conservative. And I cannot help but respect the opinions of others, no matter how medieval they are – sorry I just have to “type” this term.
Though negative comments can be dismaying, I’ve decided to still go for it. I cannot look back and say, why didn’t I do that? I know that I may not be following what society expects, but I cannot live by the rules of others.
Surprisingly, my very own mother gave a different response. Let me tell you something about my mom: she’s so conservative, religious, and she has all these fears — which I think she passed on to me. But it was only her, of ALL PEOPLE, who supported me wholeheartedly.
I told her about my plans when I recently went home. I told her that I’m going for this trip despite my low income, and that I’m alone, etc.
My mom used to worry alot about me being the youngest. In fact, it was her who stopped me from jumping into the pool again after my “traumatic experience”. She doesn’t even want me to drive a car because she’s afraid that I might get into an accident. But when she found out about my plan to travel, I heard nothing but positive things. And she gave me the greatest gift – her love and support:
“You should travel because it will expand your horizons”. I love you mom.
Ok, so I still don’t know how to swim, and I’m still afraid of a hundred frisbees flying all over. But I know I’ll get over these little things soon.
For now, I’m happy that I’m taking this journey to the unknown … I’m taking this leap of faith. Conquering fear is a process. But every step taken is so worth it.
34 days to go!!!!!!