When You Face Your Fear of a Journey
There’s something magical about setting out on an unknown trip and truly seeing the globe. You could think of it as necessary “soul food.” For those who enjoy self-discovery, the thrill of the unknown trip becomes endless. For those who are not adventurous enough, the thrill of the unknown trip becomes an excuse to sit back and enjoy the delicious foods prepared by your “superiors.”
For me, adventure is in knowing the difference. It’s the unknown journey that puts me in touch with my adventurous instincts. When I was a kid, I recall going to the family estate of a famous French chef. I recall having a great time. I recall the chef’s family members being overjoyed to see a small stranger visit them. The chef’s father greeted me with, “Welcome.” And then he asked, “Have you been to our country?” I had. And it was my fault. He was furious with me for not traveling more, buying more, opening more shops.
As I sat there, I realized I had let myself become imprisoned by the routines of our society. I realized I had allowed the rules of a game that didn’t make me happy. I was afraid of spending. Of leaving my comfort zone. Of being a wanderer. I thought these things would make me unhappy. I was wrong. What I wanted to have was friends. What I wanted was to feel at home in this “Country.” I wanted to find myself in its customs and traditions. I wanted to be welcomed and accepted. And in less than three months, I had.
I remember visiting a temple at the country’s edge. There was a beautiful waterfall below the temple. I remember how beautiful it was and how I didn’t want to stay for the full three months. Wanted to get home and write a letter to my mother and father thanking them for welcoming me and trusting me to go on this adventure.
I remember walking along a riverbank in the country’s center. In fact, it’s where I did my first real jungle trek. I remember how remote this country felt, how lonely I felt, hearing French spoken around me and thinking, There’s someone like me here, back in France. It’s probably why they’re so successful. I remember feeling disconnected from everything. From the culture and from my fellow travelers. I remember the loneliness getting so strong I wanted to leave. I’ve wanted to go back to my little world of my “normal” life and go home and tell my parents what I’d done on this adventure. I wanted them to be happy for me.
In less than three months, I’d traveled over 7,000 miles. I knew that I’d met and talked to thousands of people and seen thousands of things. I knew that I was not alone.
And in less than three months, I never wanted to leave.
As my family and friends read my journal, my thoughts, my ideas, my desires, I remember them all. I remember feeling so good, wishing I could keep it all to myself. I remember looking back at the time that I’d spent in Cambodia and thinking how much better life could’ve been if I’d made the effort to go home.
In less than three months, I was gone. No one knew. I was on my own. I was free.
What I’d learned was that you can, you must. It’s been over three years since I’d left my family for a new life in France. I had a lot of things to think about and had an entirely new life to try to understand. I was going to take a little more time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.
Three years later I’m still figuring it out.
I never knew what to make of the local customs or what language people spoke around the world. I didn’t speak the language or the culture, but I understood that it was important and worth looking into. And so I went.
Sometimes I thought I was alone. Other times I thought I was lucky. I thought I was smart to go. And still, other times, I felt grateful that someone else had gone. But I never worried that I was letting myself down. I never worried that I couldn’t do the journey. I always thought of myself as a big boy, capable of doing big things. I’d always thought I could do it.
I knew I was ready. And I knew I was going to do it.
I thought I might take an entire year to do it. I might take years. But I wasn’t going to be a quitter. Not when I was ready. I was ready to do it, ready to be a part of the journey. However, I wasn’t ready to have missed it.
I was willing to face the inevitable questions and the inevitable fears and the inevitable doubts, ready to face my fears, to face what the words “Muslim woman” meant to me.
And I was ready to do it.
I was ready to go. And I was going to make the journey worth it. I was going to go when I was weary, sick, or sickened, or when I was too young or too old, or when I wasn’t ready, motivated, or able to accomplish it due to other factors in my life. I had planned on attending and doing it, and if I did it well, I’d come home and tell everyone about it and how it had changed my life. And they would all be very proud of me and I would feel very proud of myself and I would be very glad that I’d done it and I would feel very glad that I’d done it.
And I would feel very glad that I’d done it.
I was going to go. And if I did it well, I was going to come home and tell everyone what I’d done and how it had changed my life.