“I have fears.”
Three words we hardly ever admit as adults.
We continue to pretend to be brave, and yet our fears act up at the most inappropriate times. They either make us do things that we shouldn’t, or hold us back from things we do.
The fight or flight impulse is quite a kicker!
I have always been confused about whether I am being apprehensive or anxious, though. I have always found ways to rationalise my fears. Like most of us do, I have dreams and expectations from life. When it actually comes to turning them into reality, however, that’s the time I actually can feel my apprehensions weighing me down, and in moments that I do try and go against my instincts, the anxiety takes over. All the doubts that cloud around me take the fun out of the actual activity.
It’s these moments of self-doubts that end up sabotaging my attempts to what I see as a happy life. The unfortunate part is that no one but me is to blame in this case, so, the weight of my decision to back off is something that I need to deal with. The first time I saw a way out of this feeling was while I was watching the TV show, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
At one of my binging moments, I watched the episode where Chandler is getting cold feet before marrying Monica, and Ross takes him through one baby step at a time to ensure he overcomes his apprehension of how his marriage will turn out, and focus on the happiness of sharing his life with his forever love. It was like a light bulb went on in my head. This fictional episode gave me hope.
My fear of failure was petrifying, but the weight of my regrets was no longer something I was willing to run away from. What did I have to lose? It certainly was worth a shot.
I looked back at the things I had been putting off out of either sheer laziness or apprehension, and the first thing that I zeroed down was planning my next solo travel. Over the years and across several empowering movies, I always wished I could just book my tickets and randomly take off to a destination on my own.
The idea of standing in front of a map and throwing darts at it to help me decide seemed exciting until I rationalised it was just foolish. I was in no mood to run to the embassies to figure visas, or even go through the process of figuring the cheapest yet most memorable mode of transport. Of course, I didn’t have enough clothes for my trip so I’d need to go for shopping.
Beneath all this was actual fear of how I’d manage it all on my own. So I used the ‘Ross’ method. I just needed to take it down to one task at a time.
First came the decision of where to travel. Road trip to the outskirts of the city was ruled out as it was just taking the easy way out. Out of impulse, I googled the recommended cities for solo travellers. I picked the one that didn’t need me to get a visa as it was within the country. I love beaches so it was an added bonus.
Next step, transport and accommodation. The flight was faster, but then I’d miss experiencing the route that people spoke about. I felt the anxiety return. I took a deep breath and took the middle way out. Travel by train and return by flight. Best of both worlds. Whew!
Now, came the fun part, shopping! All I needed were some funky beach clothes, and I was sorted. As I knocked off one task at a time, I actually felt myself enjoying the process, and in fact, looked forward to the trip. Rest of the trip tasks were broken down and executed with near perfection. The exhilaration I felt while I was relaxing by the beach on a sunny day was something that I cannot put into words.
I am not really sure if my success with planning my trip ensures that I have overcome my fears about everything else, but one thing that this has taught me is that I am never again going to let my apprehensions hold me back anymore.
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