On Fear

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Dear Reader,

Today I want to talk to you about fear.

Months ago I wrote a post entitled the Gift of Fear. In this post, I wrote:

As we all wander this beautiful planet, may we never let our fear hold us back from realizing our dreams. May we wander boldly and wildly. And may we also trust our inner voices and take precautions when we feel deep inside that shit could go sideways!

Here’s the thing sweet readers, I write for you, but I also try to take my own advice.

So, over the past THREE WEEKS of my solo-trek — can you believe it, three weeks?! — I have wandered boldly, while staying alert to the potential dangers around me.

On certain occasions I have done so with great success, on others I have lapsed in judgement.

With this said, I would like to take you through three instances in which my fear was sparked — this is a great way to catch up on my wandering journey and also allow you to understand how to listen to your own fears.

1) Missing Out

Ya’ll let me be real… I am a worrier. Yes, I write a lot about setting my fears free. Yes, I am wandering the world solo. Yes, I quit my secure job and left my homey apartment to move into my car and live my dreams. Sure, in a lot of ways I am living fearlessly. But, I still worry. And most days that worry comes from fear of the unknown.

Let me be even more real, I allowed this fear stop me from seeing two incredible places over the past three weeks.

Instead of driving past Crater Lake and seeing a world wonder, I bypassed this route because there were rumors of possible snow and ice.

Days later, I saw friend’s pictures at Crater Lake and I felt deep regret, frustration with myself for letting my fear hold me back. I vowed that next time, I would follow my hearts pull and venture into the unknown.

But in Reno, when I was faced with the decision to venture to Lake Tahoe, I chose to forgo Tahoe. I had been warned repeatedly about bears, and I just couldn’t shut down the fear. I mean, hell I was basically a grocery store on wheels (bins full of delicious food).

However, when the fear of bears bubbled up once again, I was ready to confront it. I had two options after Reno, drive 395 to Las Vegas or drive through the center of Nevada.

395 went straight through the Sierra Nevadas and was rumored to be bear country. But I knew I had to do it.

2) Letting Go of Fear

Driving 395 was the best decision I could have made. I watched every sunrise and sunset for five days. I saw the Sierra Nevadas turn orange and pink; the crescent moon kiss the purple clouds; I watched snow dance on far away mountain tops and I found the best climbing camp ground, adorned with the cutest puppies.

**See what I’m talking about? Totally breathtaking!

During my stay at said campground, I contemplated leaving on my second night. I thought about packing up and heading deeper into the desert. Why? Honestly, because I was afraid to be alone with myself for another second.

But instead, I faced my fear. I spent a day painting, exploring, feminist podcast listening, found poem writing, dancing and holding myself.

And ya’ll, when I picked my campsite that night (I stayed at a different site each night, attempting to find the best one) the world reminded me why allowing fear to get in my way can steal so much of my joy.

At my campsite I found, a climbing magazine (soon to be turned vision board), a rad feminist murder mystery (my guilty pleasure) and get this, a $5 bill tucked into a shrub just waiting for me, to pay for my last night of camping. The night I almost turned away from because of my fear.

3) Fear Has It’s Place

However, as I wrote in my earlier post, The Gift of Fear, our fear is valuable in those moments where an alarm goes off in our head, or our heart drops into our stomach. In those instances, fear exists for a reason, and a good one at that.

As I drove through the Sierra’s I encountered two men who just didn’t sit right with me.

One, who was a clear NO. A man, who I felt no guilt turning the fuck away from and kicking up dust in my rear view mirrors.

But the other man was less obvious. This is the man who stuck in my mind. I kept thinking, “Was I too quick to judge?” or “Should I have given him a shot?”

These questions played in my mind because he was stunning.

Bearded in salt and pepper, adorned in the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, outfitted in rad outdoor gear and driving a beautiful Subaru.

I encountered him at a trailhead. I had just completed my hike and he was beginning his. There were plenty of other people in the parking lot but he came straight for me.

The first words out of his mouth were “Where are you from?”

Immediately, I was taken aback. He was trying to gauge how far from home I was, how well I knew the area. But I answered nonetheless. Knowing I was surrounded by other folks, able to hop in my car if I needed to.

His next question? Not:“What is your name?” or “How was the hike?” But instead, “Where are you going?”

With that, I answered vaguely, “Somewhere on 395.”

He responded with “South?” and I was done.

“Yep.” I said, and hopped in my car.

Was it rude to so abruptly end the conversation? Sure.

But did I feel totally safe, justified and in control because I listened to that voice inside me? You’re damn right I did.

Even though he was beautiful, charming and outdoorsy, even though I could have been flattered that he picked me out of everyone else, I knew I made the right decision. Because I wasn’t flattered, I was afraid. And that fear has its’ place.

So sweet readers, may we never let our fear hold us back from the places we long to visit and the goals we wish to achieve. And may we always listen to that gut instinct and knowing it will allow us to keep ourselves safe.

With love,

Annalise