Wanderlust vs. Fear

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Oxford dictionaries define wanderlust as a 'strong desire to travel' and fear as 'the feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone'. As you can probably imagine, these are not two things that co-exist peacefully. Fear is such a powerful emotion, that when you are gripped by it, you are going to need a whole lot of wanderlust in order to overcome it, otherwise you stay transfixed in place, unable to travel anywhere because you are so worried about venturing out beyond your comfort zone that you don't do it at all.

When I was younger, we had this globe that I used to love to spin and then stop it my finger, and wherever it pointed to, I would tell myself that I would visit this country one day. I was fascinated by what the countries in the South American continent that I knew so little about could offer, or if Iceland was covered in ice and Greenland lush with greenery. Later, on a school trip to a random museum I don't remember, I acquired a smaller globe, encased in  glass that was lost when dropped in a childhood clumsiness. I didn't acquire another one, because that was the time when childhood bullies began to tear away at my self-esteem and I stopped believing I could do anything that I wanted to do. Somewhere along the way, I stopped seeing curiosity and a longing to discover things as something that was good and therefore to be encouraged, and instead equated it with something that I couldn't do, something that I was afraid of doing.

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I am regularly trying to find out the 'why' behind the feeling, behind the fears that grip me, and that to most will seem completely irrational but to me feel very real. Yet, sometimes there is no why. There is no particular reason that you are afraid, and all you can do is expose yourself to that which you fear so that over time you realise that what you feared was nowhere near as bad as you thought. It's helpful then that wanderlust is a desire. I see desire, and passion, as flames, and if you add enough fuel to it, it will rise and burn so brilliantly that your fear will seem so trivial beside it. 

That's one of my hopes for this year, that I will take small little steps to remind myself what it is that brought me so much joy in spinning that little globe and the longing that grips me when I see pictures of far away (and not so far away places) and hear a little of the stories behind them. Fear may have won the battles thus far, but wanderlust may yet win this war.

Do you have wanderlust? Do you love to travel? Or like me, would you travel more if you were a little less afraid?

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