The Anxious Explorer
Each time I embark upon a new adventure, I wonder why I do it. Anxiety claws my stomach, making my chest feel tight. A million thoughts of what could go wrong in this latest phase of travel race through my mind, and the more logistics I have the more I worry.
Between obtaining a U.S. visa in London, being home for a week, picking up my passport in London, going to Copenhagen for the weekend, coming back to London, and then finally leaving for New York, it has been a hectic couple of weeks. The effort required to get all the logistics to come into place, and the sheer amount of paperwork that I have needed to remember, makes me marvel at those who do this regularly. It is, quite frankly, terrifying.
But then I'll be sat reading in Central Park, cycling through Denmark with my best friend, or catching up with old friends and family in snatched hours in England, and I'll think this, this is why I do it.
Because even if my anxiety riddled state, throwing myself out there is so much better than playing it safe. As I packed up my bags it dimmly occurred to me that I could have been home all summer if I'd have chosen it, and then I wouldn't have to say goodbye to so many people I love. But doing that would mean playing it safe when I know I'll thrive once I get there, and I'll be so glad I pushed myself as soon as I settle in.
I'm trying to get the balance right. Balancing my mental health with my sense of adventure is a careful negotiation that I've been learning over the past three years. I think I'm beginning to understand myself, and so I turned down an opportunity in rural Uganda in favour of the safer U.S choice because I knew after Accra I needed some familiarity. I also make sure to give myself extra time at the airport, just so I know for certain that I won't miss my flight.
For you this balance might look a little different. Perhaps it's not travel, but opportunities at work or something else that requires the mix of bravery and self preservation. I became sick of constantly being told to push myself, but also fearful of settling. The golden spot is somewhere between the two, and so I continue to pursue it.
I am an anxious explorer, but that won't stop me. It just means I have to give myself a break every once in a while, that's all.
- Camera used: Canon EOS M with 18-55mm lens -