Sometimes the fear doesn't go away, so you have to go with it.
"But what if it goes horribly wrong?"
I have the ability to come up with 31,987 things that can go wrong, once I have an idea.
Being prepared and pre-cautious is not necessarily a bad thing but it can turn into a very bad habit. Especially if you are like me and are blessed with a little demon called anxiety.
I barely talk about my depression nor my anxiety. I am not shy about it when it comes to talking about it with the people that I love and care for. In public, with strangers or online, on the other hand, I abstain from blurting it out. Mainly because mental illness is still a big tabu and is not seen as a real illness.
It took me half my life and quite some time on my therapist’s couch to figure out how to live with, handle and also concur my fears and worries on a daily basis.
Now, I love to travel. Always have, always will.
Something that I realised while being away from home for a year is that, no matter how well I feel, how prepared I think I am, life will usually come up with some evil-genius plan to push you out of your comfort zone.
While a lot of people find it challenging and exciting to get out of their comfort zone, I tend to have a minor heart attack.
Before I decided to take the year off to learn and see new things, I was already doing very well and had a very good support system back home. That being said, I want you to know that this hasn’t always been the case and in retrospect I wouldn’t have left, if it wasn’t so.
My dark days, where I was scared of leaving my bed and just the thought of having to talk to strangers caused a melt down inside my brain, are long over. Nevertheless do I know that some situations will always be a little tougher on me than for others. And that’s okay.
So, after getting this off my chest, I wanted to share with you a little list of things that helped me a great deal in different settings.
You didn’t fell off the face of the earth.
For the first 6 months of my travels I relocated to Spain.
A few weeks before I left, my brain started doing its thing. It so far away, I won’t see my friends, I can’t visit my Mom whenever I want, etc…
Spain is not far away from Austria, Spain is on the same continent, there is a thing called the internet, I still worried - and it was for nothing.
I met new people, friends came to visit and I could Skype whoever I wanted, almost always whenever I wanted.
This also works for the rest of the world, other continents, different time zones.
Trust me, I’ve tried it all.
… not wanting to make friends.
… not wanting to go outside.
… to be lazy.
Being on your own in a foreign country is exciting and you should try to take as much with you as you can. As you can.
Very early in my travels I realised that I just can’t always do it. I, more than just a few times, needed time for myself. There were days where I just didn’t want to talk to the lovely girl on the bus or leave my house all together.
And that’s okay. It’s okay.
My anxiety, and therefor I, often put me down for not doing enough. But to be honest, who would have cared, but me?
You are already on the other side of the world.
Just do you, even if it means doing nothing at all.
Being okay with taking my me - time and not pleasing my imaginary opponent wasn’t easy in the beginning, but turned out to be one of the best things I did for my mental health.
If you take more time taking care of yourself, you have more time to spend with others.
Be prepared but don’t overthink everything.
Having all my things stolen at a bus station in Sri Lanka really put things in perspective.
I spent so much time worrying about things that could have gone wrong that I wasn’t present in the moment they actual went wrong.
You can try make up every scenario in your head but it will be so different from when it actually happens.
So I stood there, with nothing but dirty laundry and a pale face. But in the end it all worked out, because deep down our subconscious always has a survival plan.
Know what triggers your anxiety.
My anxiety gets worse when I am around too many people for too long.
This is not the easiest thing to explain to your friends that just flew halfway around the world to see you, but when it happens it happens.
It can be the silliest things that trigger or worsen your anxiety, and the only solution for that is to recognise them and deal with them as honest as humanly possible.
Have an emergency contact.
Preferable in the same time zone, not necessarily the same person you would contact if your passport gets stolen but someone who knows you and doesn’t need much explaining.
Just knowing that you have that person you can rant to or call crying if needed, calms you down instantly.
You can’t do it all.
It’s impossible to go to all the places that people tell you to see.
No matter if it’s a recommendation from locals, travel blogs, old or new friends, if they’ve been there and liked it, they will want you to do it too.
The sooner you accept the fact that you might miss out on some things, the sooner you are at peace with yourself.
Follow your gut and make your own little priority list in your head. If you can cross off more than one thing on that list you are already very lucky and should celebrate.
Things happen and time flies.
The year is over. I’ve been to amazing places and haven’t changed as much as they said I would, but the little I grew, I am thankful for.
All in all, I will keep worrying - but I will do it without the stress.