Humans were originally nomadic beings, which makes travel second nature to who we are. We crave adventure and opportunity, out there in the great, wide-open somewhere. One of the most natural ideas of the world is to travel from place to place, yet so many are afraid to do just that.
Leaving home is one of the most terrifying things we can do, but it’s also the most natural. For some people, there’s the fear of the unknown and the what-ifs in terms of this crazy, unpredictable world we live in. For others, it has more to do with who we become once we step outside our doors. In my mind, that’s the scariest part about leaving home.
Why is this my fear over a fear of the world? Because once we step outside of our doors, who we were becomes a distant memory, and we grow and change in many ways; we become completely different people and that can be a scary notion. I have found that the world isn’t the scary part. Sure, countries and places are different than what we may be used to, but that’s the best part of travel. The scary part has nothing to do with what we see or who we meet, it’s who we become.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Lately, I have been thinking about this a lot. After each trip, I am changed in some way. Occasionally, it’s a small change, but after a big trip, it’s usually a large scale change, one that takes some adjusting to once I return home. One that makes me question everything from my existence to the person I am on a daily basis. With my two month long adventure just around the corner, I keep thinking about who I will be when I return and if I’ll even be able to recognize the person I am today.
What’s scariest about coming home then is that the things that once made me happy suddenly change. I realize what the world has and what the world is really like, and it becomes more and more difficult to relate to the people around me. The most immediate change I notice is a difficulty to relate to those in my life, people who haven’t seen what I have seen or been where I have. Sure, they are there to listen to the stories and see the photos, but they will never have a true understanding since they’ve never seen what I have with their own eyes. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can take some getting used to.
Travel is scary because it opens our eyes to the world around us. It broadens our minds and in doing so, broadens our understanding of the world and our place in it. Once we see what the world is truly like, with our own eyes, not what the media shows us, we see the place the world really is. How human beings, no matter where they live or their religion, are all really just the same. We are all flesh and blood. We are all deserving of the same opportunities. We are all one.
What is the scariest part about leaving home? It’s the fact that we will never be the same, and what once made us happy at home, can change once we’ve returned from a trip. This isn’t necessarily bad, in fact it’s the greatest gift that travel can give us, that life can give us. But, it’s scary because we realize what we once thought could make us happy really doesn’t, and then we have to realize and understand how far away we were from what we desire most.
My trip this summer is very different than anything I have ever embarked on, and I know that I will change in more ways than I ever have before. In India, I’ll be working with street children for two weeks, and my mind and heart will open up to the realities of their daily life. In two weeks, I’ll barely be able to help them, but I’ll do everything I can to impact their lives in that time period. Then, I’ll be driving across Europe and Central Asia, where I am sure I will have to rely on the help of locals at some point in my journey. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out, but in the past, whenever I’ve made friends with local people, a change deep down inside of me occurs.
Which is why I am scared of leaving, even though I am not afraid of the journey. Instead, it’s who I’ll be at the end of it, and learning if the life I am currently living will be enough to satisfy me when I arrive home. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett