Solo Female Travel, Travel Stories

Fear Mongering

         Since sharing my plans to quit my job and travel the world (mostly alone), I’ve encountered more fear than encouragement. Lighthearted jokes about movies such as Taken or Hostel preface cautionary tales of warning. “Be careful!” “How do your parents feel about this?” “Aren’t you scared?” and other messages of concern only add to my own feelings of doubt and nervousness.  It’s as if I’m ignoring a universal rule that a young, pretty, female has no business exploring the world on her own. By violating this unspoken understanding, I am automatically placing myself at risk for rape, robbery, and murder. What could I possibly be thinking? 
        The world is a scary place. It’s a place where young women are abused by husbands, fathers, and people they trust. It’s a place where innocent children are murdered in their classroom and abducted from school buses. It’s a place where the violence we see in movies and television takes place in real life. Fear is powerful. It isolates, paralyzes, and shakes us to the core. It imprisons us in unhappy routines and familiarity. It corners us into believing that choosing the “lesser of two evils” is our only option; it tries its best to keep us from taking risks, embracing change, or choosing hope.
        Fear cripples us but it also gives us a false sense of control. It teaches us to believe that we are responsible for our own protection and safety and that if we follow a strict set of rules then it won’t happen to us. It teaches us to blame the victim (she shouldn’t have been walking alone at night, why was she dressed like that? ) instead of questioning the reason for violence. We become far too accustomed to trying to avoid danger rather than focusing on preventing it. Instead of living from a place of trust our lives begin to reflect fear’s malicious lies. We barricade our hearts and our homes, isolating ourselves from those around us. We rely on borders and bolts to keep us and them separated and to keep us safe. News bytes from the media only add fuel to the flame by constantly reporting the latest homicide, motor vehicle accident, or natural disaster. Photos of serial rapists and terrorists confront us daily. We’ve become a society where fear mongering is an acceptable form of manipulation and we are numbed by its affect. 
         Lately I’ve been listening to these messages of fear. My hands are clammy and my heart is racing. I’ve been allowing the doubts and concerns of others to flood my consciousness, letting confusion cloud my path. It’s debilitating and blinding. What seemed like diving into a clear blue pool now seems more like falling into a dark abyss. Trust and faith seem like foolish school girl fantasies, hope an imagined fairytale. But I know there is a better way. I know despite the darkness that often surrounds us there is a source of Light and Goodness. I choose to believe that the Universe is constantly conspiring to help us find our way. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the reality of the world we live in by burying our heads in the sand. We need to be responsible with the life we’ve been granted by taking care of it to the best of our ability. Sometimes that might mean avoiding a risky behavior or choosing not to go into a known dangerous situation. But we have to LIVE FREE from the constraints of fear. 
         You see, the world is a beautiful place. It’s a place where strangers open their homes to strangers and a smile is understood in every language. It’s a place where mothers choose to unconditionally love their children and people offer their time, talent, and resources asking for nothing in return. It’s a place where one billion are rising together to speak out in opposition to violence against women. It’s a place where your neighbor is a laughing child in Africa, your brother is a bearded man in Afghanistan, and we are all part of the same family of God. It’s a place where faith, trust, and hope are all in cahoots working to liberate us from fear. So today I’m choosing to trust that the Universe is conspiring with me, not against me. That people all over the world are kind, generous, and more alike than dissimilar. I’m choosing to believe that even the chains of death have no power over Love. I’m choosing to take that leap into a clear blue pool of water. 

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