My Struggle to Overcome the Fear of Traveling

Today we have Vagabond Writer’s first guest post! Our guest poster is the fabulous Gaia Mori and she talks about her fear of traveling and how she overcame it. She spent most of her adolescence moving around the world. Aside from her studies and work in Marketing, she loves practicing yoga, reading, and essentially anything that requires her to reflect abstractly.

We’ve all seen those movies that light a fire under our butts and make us dream of a life of adventure. You know the ones, where the protagonist rides on elephants in Thailand or swims with dolphins in Australia.

After I watch such movies I always imagine myself doing the same thing.

I rush home, flip open my computer, and spend the evening Googling my brains out trying to see how I could make it work. But when morning comes rolling around, I always find myself brushing those dreams aside, or burying them under a mountain of “should’s”. I should have a steady job. I should own a house. I should be there for my family.

I know all about these kinds of reality face-slaps and while I should be used to this struggle, I still get stuck in it. Why should I be used to it? I am a lifelong traveler. I was born in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, but didn’t stay there very long. Instead, I followed my traveling video-game developing father. As a result, I now have the “traveler’s itch”.

Maybe you know it?

It’s that nervous little mental tick you get whenever you have been in once place too long. You desire to feel the sweet weight of luggage on your back and the next adventure before you.

There are never-ending influences tempting me to the life of travel. But there are just as many luring me to the life we are told to follow by society.

Comparing myself to others

Most of these influences are supported by a simple scan of any social media platform. In the past week alone I’ve seen about 10 announcements of good news by people who have this stability. Even though I’m happy for them, it triggers doubt and leads me to second guess myself.

It makes me compare my life to those Hallmark moments and leads to a torrent of confusing questions: What am I doing with my life? Should I get a PhD? Should I change my plans? Should… Should.. Should… And the spiral spins me around faster and faster…

In these moments, all my beliefs and goals end up challenged. When this used to happen I tended to freak out and isolate myself. That’s changing. Now I’m starting to take these moments as an opportunity to learn life’s important lessons.

Lessons such as: don’t compare yourself to others, trust your instinct, and be present now. When these instances arise, it’s a great time to ask:

“What is it about this person that is provoking these unfulfilled longings?”

If you ask this question enough times you can start sensing a pattern and seeing the signs. Hopefully, before you lose all your confidence, lock yourself away and binge on movies and food – at least that’s how it used to play out with me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely no pro at this. Actually, I was inspired to write this post because I went through exactly this spiral this morning. I decided that instead of falling down that hole and losing a lovely Sunday, I would write down my thoughts and feelings.

I wrote about how embracing the traveling life has been a huge struggle for me. I’ve been floating between yes and no, between fear and excitement. One day I’m ready to head out into the world. The next I retreat back into safety and look for something more stable.

Then the traveler’s itch comes back and the whole dance started over again.

Decide to break the pattern

Break the pattern

Now, however, I’m completely fed up with this dance. And so I’m taking my own advice. This morning I asked myself, without judgment, ‘do I want to travel and am I willing to fight for it?’

I found the answer was ‘yes’. I’m finally willing to say ‘yes’ to the traveling life.

And with the new-found tranquility that came with that decision I realized something. Whether you are a seasoned nomad or just starting to think about jumping ship, you’ll constantly be tempted to compare yourself to others.

Resist it. For, in the end, it all comes down to this: you are the creator of your own happiness.

Sure, jealousy or comparisons can be useful. You can channel these feelings towards discovering yourself and creating more happiness. That’s all well and good. Just make sure you leave the rest behind.

After all, as a traveler you can only carry so much with you. So you have to pick and choose only that which aids you on your journey. Avoid all the extra baggage.

For me, to deal with my thoughts and emotions it helps if I write everything down. Things get so chaotic when I just leave my fears to mull and churn in my head. So I make lists about what I dream about and what scares me.

When I get my fears down on the paper, they become something tangible that I can tackle. I untangle the mess in my head and create space to work things out.

Or, as the Dalai Lama XIV said: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

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