The Love of Being Scared: Navigating Life’s Tricky Paths
I know I’m going back to South America, so I can’t really explain what’s going through my head as I sit here on my
computer at the airport waiting for my flight back to Canada. Part of me is excited. I’ll kiss the soil as soon as I set foot on the silky smooth soil of my home and native land. But at the same time part of me is sad. I’m ending an era of my life, the one which I spent my days exploring ancient ruins and vibrant plazas. A life in which I spent my nights sipping exotic drinks, nibbling on strange foods, and diving head first into the local night life. All at the same time I feel scared. But unlike most people this is the part I love. I love being scared, because travel has taught when you’re scared you’re probably about to embark on something incredible.
The more and more I travel or, to be honest, just live, the more I relish the idea of being scared. By being scared I don’t mean doing things that are stupid and purposefully scare you (although most that know me are probably disapointed that what is about to come is a life story and not a crazy story about how I stole a taxi in Panama). In this regard I mean taking on life challenges that seem difficult. In our lives we have many decisions to make. The majority of people chose the path that seems the easiest, disguising that thought as the “right” thing to do.
I’m not a believer in fate by any stretch of the imagination. But I do believe that gives us choices. Sometimes the decisions to these questions aren’t drastic, “I’m going to eat at McDonald’s instead of Subway,” and impact your life only the slightest. However sometimes you run into decisions that are bigger “I’m going to study English instead of Engineering,” and these options impact your life more significantly. Looking back at my life, and the way I’ve made my particular decisions has brought me to the point I am right now, sitting at the airport in Lima. But things could have turned out the same. I challenge you to think of these big decisions the way that I am about to roll out and think about your life, without regrets.
I was 18 years old, a basketball player without an idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I went to university to play
basketball and study kinesiology. My second year of school I had the choice to go out west and continue playing basketball or stay near my hometown and continue not knowing what to do. I stayed close to home, because it was the easiest decision (same part of the world, same girlfriend, same friends). At University I met a professor who had a love for geography, politics, and travel, because of him I decided I wanted to travel. I had the choice later of staying with a girlfriend, or traveling. I chose to travel. I had the choice to travel to anywhere. I chose Central America because for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I could get their for cheap and I wanted to learn how to surf. I ended up falling in love with the culture, language, and the history. I returned home with a purpose, to learn why Latin America is the way it is. After University ended I sat with the options of Law schools, grad schools, and jobs. I decided to throw it all away for a low paying job where I got to explore South America in depth. And today I am heading home again with my life full of options, something that kind of scares me. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my decision, more on that later.
If I was to go back and change any of the decisions that I made in life, my life direction would have pointed me to a completely different place than I am right now. And to be quite honest looking back I made some seriously wrong choices. I probably should have headed west to play basketball, and I probably should have done a couple other unlisted items differently. But the truth is that because of those silly mistakes I made, I am here where I am now, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. The experiences that I’ve had along the my life’s path so far have reassured me that no matter how terrifying a decision may be it can always take me to an amazing place. From my life experiences, I’ve learned that taking the road that scares usually takes you to a rewarding place as long as you survive the journey, and even if you fail, you’ll probably have a great story to tell.