“Wow. Your bag is heavy.”
“Don’t hitchhike. It’s dangerous.”
“You’re awfully young. You have to be careful about traveling alone.”
“You’re so brave.”
“That’s awfully scary.”
“Here are alllll the bad things that may happen to you.” (Paraphrase)
If the above things haven’t been said or shoved down my throat, they have been heavily insinuated. Negative statements have been a very small portion of what I have heard about my trip. Positive feedback has been overwhelming.
But negative or doubtful feedback has been present. While I have done my best not to let it affect me, what comes to mind is: Why?
I heard over and over about the scary things that could befall me by traveling alone. A whole f*cking lot actually. I had fears from childhood, stories of far off dangers, headlines from my hometown, and rumors of countries never visited by the people who chose to share the horrors of such places with me.
When I wasn’t rolling my eyes or highly amused, this thought came to mind, (well, it came to mind all the time, I just tried to laugh it off):
Do you not know I’m afraid?
When you stand there and tell me all the reasons why this is a bad idea, what am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to do?
I am afraid.
In fact, there were a SHIT ton of moments where I was just straight up terrified.
And guess what? My smile was fake as I reassured you that “yeah. I’ll be careful. New Zealand is safe. I know what I’m doing. I have friends there. Other people do this too.”
What I really wanted to say was “please just F off.” I know you meant well. I truly do. I see your side. I heard your fears. I was bathed in them. Fears of growing old. Fears of missing life. Fears of the world. Fears of the unknown. Fears of the known. FEAR.
I know this entity. We’re buddies actually. He comes and chills on my shoulder, I say “what’s up?” He shrieks “THE WORLD WILL BURN.” I try to casually respond “ah yup. I’ve known that since Trump got elected.” He nods and keeps quiet for a bit. Until something new shows up and he starts his hysterics once again.
I was afraid as I prepared for my five day track.
I was afraid as I bought my plane ticket.
I was afraid as I waited for the day to arrive.
I was afraid on my first and second and third hitchhike.
I was afraid of going to the bank and setting up my phone.
I know the world is scary. America is one of the scariest places I’ve been. (Fear interjects with “ITS ALL TERRIFYING!”)
Because yeah. Uh. It kind of is. There are humans out there. I know that. I’ve cried about it. I sobbed and fretted over my heavy bag, my lack of experience, and my age. I wondered if I would be picked up by psychos and listened as intimidating looking men said they are too scared to hitch.
I sat at a table with my head in my arms asking my mom why people would tell me these things. “Are they trying to make me not do it?”
The thing is. I don’t know. Maybe you are simply trying to tell yourself the things you wish you heard. Reassure your own little fear sitting on your shoulder.
He’s not going anywhere. So please don’t send him attacking mine.
He’s got his hands full with the concerns of a wee 18 year old doing plenty of crazy shit.
So next time you are tempted to inform someone of no useful info and only how scared YOU are to go do something, please just say “I’m proud of you for facing your fear. Use common sense and you will be just fine.”
Or you know. Give them a hug. We could use that too.