I’ve just returned from beautiful Morocco, a trip I almost thought about cancelling due to others’ responses when I mentioned it. That I must be very careful, there will be so many scams, and even that I should not go! I knew I would be fine though and would see and learn so much from going there that it was important for me to go.
I appreciate people’s worries, that they come from a loving place and so I don’t dismiss them but I listen to my own feelings and faithfully follow those. Usually their words are not the true voice of the person speaking them, instead they are the vocalisations of a society that wants to keep its population (and in particular it’s women) in a constant state of fear. This is because fear equates to control and someone who lives in fear cannot truly be free.
Even walking alone in the woods near my house provokes this response! I’m asked on an almost daily basis by fellow walkers why I don’t have a dog with me or am I really going on my own? I love walking and it’s so vital to be out in nature. It saddens me that so many of us are discouraged from our natural surroundings due a disproportionate fear of what lurks waiting.
Use your intuition- your ‘common sense’, do hear others’ stories of particular places and use that information to decide on your own path but at the same time listen to your own instincts more so than anyone else, those telling you something is safe or unsafe, if you feel otherwise- trust this.
If I had followed all the people telling me I shouldn’t be doing something, I would have missed out on some of the most incredible experiences of my time here so far, meeting warm friendly people, seeing beautiful nature and learning some of my most important lessons (future posts to come on these hehe!)
Here are my thoughts on how to speak lovingly with a friend or family member who is concerned about your path…
- Don’t react immediately! Initially in response to someone telling you that you shouldn’t be doing something, you may feel a rising surge of anger in your stomach and want to argue back with them. This will not work and just confirms in their minds that you’re too reactionary and emotional to keep yourself safe. Instead, calmly tell them that you understand their feelings but that you feel very secure in everything and are looking forward to your trip.
- Often people are swayed by what they’ve recently read in the news or watched on TV, for example I know people who wouldn’t dream of visiting Eastern Europe after seeing the film Hostel and so if you tell them that’s where you’re heading, they conjure up visions of that ridiculous film instead of the beautiful scenery and people that are there. Keep this in mind when discussing your trip and show them the beautiful side of your destination, one they may be unaware of.
- Be realistic when talking with them. Don’t pretend as though nothing bad ever happens in the world or could ever happen to you as this comes across as naïve. Acknowledge that for example if you’re travelling to Africa, that yes people have encountered trouble but remind them that there have been people go on a night out in Manchester and never return home due to a simple bar fight.
- Show them how prepared you are (even if you’re not yet!) Be detailed as you describe your trip even if you’re certain your plans will change and evolve along the way. Once people know you have a schedule, they usually feel safe. I book hotels and hostels very last minute which drives my family wild as it’s something they would never dream of leaving until the day before travelling!
- If they’re very logically minded, providing some statistics may be useful. For example on my forest walks, I remind people that women are more likely to be attacked in their own homes by someone they know, not whilst out on a sunny day walking! Not a nice statistic of course but one that might put things into perspective.
If you are scared, don’t be afraid to admit it! Don’t feel you must put on a show of bravado and say that an upcoming trip trekking India alone is the same as nipping to the corner shop to you- it’s not and it’s perfectly ok to feel apprehensive. The key is to listen to your body and note the differences between feeling truly terrified of a situation or feeling excitedly anticipative of the unknown.
And most importantly, remember that although it’s good to keep people happy, don’t do this at the expense of your dreams. Never let other’s views influence your own plans to the point of cancelling your dream trip. Reclaim your freedom!