“This would be an adventure, and I’d be ready.”
Last night I fell asleep nervous for the days ahead of me. Would I survive this solo and unpredictable journey? Would I make it out alive, turn around, or get hopelessly lost to the unknown? Would I absolutely hate every second? Can I live up to my own expectations?
Geographically speaking, the places outlined for this trip are not uncharted territory to me. I’ve stayed in or, at least, gone through most of the towns and areas I’ll be passing this year. However, as I leave today I know the experiences will be new and that I will not be returning the same girl I am at this moment of departure.
I (like so many of us) was born and raised afraid. Of strangers, of dark alleyways, of Uber drivers, of pretty much everything. Conditioned to be wary of people with a different skin colour than mine, of the man passing me on my daily walk, the car seemingly following me home.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not carry the misconception that the world does not contain dangers. I am all too aware of the cruelty in our society, and I know that those dangers grow exponentially for a single female traveler.
Yet, as scary as those things are, the one thing I have always been afraid of more than anything else is a life half-lived. And the only thing slightly less scary than staying at home while adventure is something happening to other people, would be to go.
I know if I’m going to enjoy this trip, I’m really going to have to give myself to the unknown, I have to trust strangers, I have to surrender to their willingness to help, to lead the way when I need directions, to host me in their homes, to offer me local-tips. I’m going to have to start ignoring all of life’s previous warnings to never trust. A lifetime of warnings, forced upon me by fear-mongering individuals who have never bothered to leave the comfort zone of their house, neighbourhood or town.
“The world isn’t safe.” “Strangers are not to be trusted.” “Women should not travel alone.”
Well, I’m going, and I’m going to be forced to trust over and over again.
As I set out today the road that stretches out before me, a metaphor for the months to come that will force me to depend and negotiate and compromise. The part of me that wants to run away suddenly satisfied, the primal need to stay, cast aside.
I’m not leaving because I am unhappy, I'm leaving because I am curious. I’m doing this because I’ve finally realised what I want from life, and it looks nothing like I thought it would. I want more than what I’ve been told is right and I have wanted this something more for years. Ultimately, that feeling wasn’t going away, so I knew I had to act on it.
A year from now, I’ll be able to measure the days and kilometers that I have traveled, but I already know there will be no measurable way to quantify what I’ll gain. What was surrendered. What memories will come from this trip, soon forever etched into my mind. I often wonder how I’ll remember this exact moment in my life.
But for now, I’m trying not to think of the bigger picture. For now, I’m trying to keep it simple. To gratefully and graciously take my time. For now, I'm just taking off.