Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
– Marie Curie
Maybe it is because it is dark, in the wee hours of the morning, and I am sitting here alone that I suddenly started to reflect on my fears. I feel safe right now– there are too many stars out for the dark sky to scare me anymore– and I am nestled in blankets, beneath the soft gold glow of lamplight. But there is something about the night time that turns up the volume on my imagination; there is something in the stretching shadows that gives even the warmest of rooms an eerie, spine-tingling chill.
So I decided to articulate what makes me most afraid while I am traveling, and brainstorm ways in which I can transform that fear into understanding, in order to find my courage.
Malicious, sick-minded people:
My mother is constantly reminding me that there are sick people in the world. The reminder always disturbs me– it is something that I genuinely forget. (Of course there are and will always be people who turn to violence and crime in their desperation for survival, and to prevent being a target of these muggings I dress discreetly, without any visible jewelry, nice accessories, or expensive clothing. In fact, while I am traveling I usually become so grimy and unkempt that I probably inspire fear in other travelers!) But the malicious, sick minded people, the ones who hurt, rape, and kill out of boredom, or for pleasure– their existence is an absolutely terrifying thought, the kind that keeps me up at night. There is no way to eliminate these people from the earth, or to be aware of their whereabouts at any given moment, but I refuse to let this fear dictate my actions, or prevent me from doing what I love.
Understanding the existence of these people, instead of fearing them means:
I will always travel with some means of protection, no matter how minimal (pepper spray).
I will not travel alone at night.
I will not travel alone in poorly lit areas.
I will not travel in dangerous areas of a city.
I will make sure someone is always aware of my location.
I will walk facing traffic while hiking beside the road, so that no cars can sneak up on me.
I will lock my doors and windows when staying in a hotel.
I will lock my doors when sitting in a parked car.
I will avoid getting a hotel/motel room on the ground floor, or next to a staircase. (This is where break-ins most commonly occur.)
I will always follow my gut instinct– if I am feeling uneasy, I will remove myself from the situation.
When traveling, I will never leave my drink or food alone and unattended.
I will be aware of the amount of alcohol I am consuming with new friends, and will not allow myself to become vulnerable in unfamiliar surroundings.
I will be aware of the people surrounding me when I am traveling in a city.
I will not have my headphones in and music on so loud that I become oblivious to my surroundings.
I will not completely let my guard down with someone I have just met.
This year, turn your fear into a proper understanding of how to better protect yourself! Let’s make a pact to not let anything stop us in 2014!