Fear wasn’t an emotion that entered my mind when I first had the thought to drive across the country alone. Ever the adventurer, I thought of the towns I would visit, the roads I would drive and the people I would encounter. I wasn’t afraid because I saw no reason to be.
My emotions have become more nuanced since that gloomy April day when I first came up with my plan. As a female in the United States, my parents raised me to be cautious when it comes to the everyday. As a child, I learned to fear strangers who might kidnap me. Then, as I entered adolescence and grew breasts, I learned to fear men and being alone anywhere at night, avoiding alleyways and holding my purse tight.
It wasn’t until I left my small town that I decided to stop being afraid.
Every year I grew more adventurous starting with moving to New York City for college. Then studying abroad in Italy. A few years later, I moved to South Carolina on a whim and fell in love, and, well, you know the rest. With every new experience, I stopped fearing.
Now on the eve of my next adventure, I’m afraid for the first time in a long time.
Irrational fears have crept into my mind: Would I remember what to do if I encountered a mountain lion? What if I got a flat tire in one of the handful of places that have no cell phone service? What if my car broke down? And my worst fear of all, what if I don’t have fun? I bottled up my anxiety and fear until one evening I found myself sitting alone in Boston Common.
Tears streaming down my face, I realized being afraid is the whole point of this adventure. Since first deciding to go on this trip,my mantra has been, “If it doesn’t scare me, it’s not worth doing.” And now I’m terrified. And excited. More excited than I’ve ever been about any trip anywhere.
And I am hopeful. Just so, so hopeful.