As my trip comes to a close, I’ve had the time to do a lot of reflecting on the trip. What it meant to me, what I learned from it, what I would do better next time I go on a trip like this, etc. Honestly, all the biggest obstacles I faced came down to one very simple thing: fear.
I was afraid of having our van stolen. I was scared of being robbed (again). I was afraid of climbing the big rocks at the Grand Canyon. I was afraid of longboarding the canyon rim. I was afraid of having to pee in a bottle and I was afraid of my boyfriend having to be there when it happened. I was afraid of people knowing we were sleeping in the van. I was afraid of having someone knock on our window in the middle of the night (which happened twice and I had a mini-panic attack both times.) I was afraid of getting lost. I was afraid of the van breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I was afraid of cliff edges, afraid of heights. Afraid of falling, afraid of hurting myself, afraid to ask for help. Yes, that list goes on.
I climbed some rocks I was unsure of if I would be able to climb. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by parking enforcement and being told to leave. I went to the mechanic to get an oil change only to find out that from Illinois to California, we were driving with some bunk wheel hubs that could have broken at any moment. I’ve woken up freezing cold in the middle of the night, forgetting that the weather would be colder up in the mountains. I’ve driven up steep mountains and had the car die on me while trying to turn around. I’ve gotten lost while driving in the forest with no phone signal for miles.
But every time I faced a fear, and I mean every. single. time, the reward was always greater than the fear that came before it. I’m more comfortable in uncertain situations. I’ve met some of the most interesting and amazing people. I’ve experienced the thrill of accelerating down a huge hill at the grand canyon on my longboard and having an uphill gently slow me back down. I’ve eaten homemade chili made from a man who was a former meth addict, who finally pieced his life together and found solace through surfing in California. I’ve seen some of the most incredible, rarely seen views after climbing rocks and boulders that had me shaking in my boots to even approach. I’ve visited friends and been welcomed into the homes of people I love. I’ve had tons of people approach me and ask more about my van and current living situation. I’ve felt peace, waking up to a beautiful view of the ocean next to the cliff edges that I was terrified would crumble beneath my sleeping body. I’ve found calm in the adventure, I’ve found peace in chaos. I’ve found friends in unexpected places, and I’ve found a sense of trust in myself that I never had before.
Living is scary. Living requires you to face the things that terrify you. Living requires you to ignore the odds, have faith in yourself, and trudge onwards.
Living is scary.
But I think what’s scarier is never living in the first place.