Fear of the Unknown

Have you ever dreamed of just disappearing from your life as you know it for a few days in hopes of reigniting the inner flames within your soul? There comes a time when the daily routine you are accustomed to is no longer enough to sustain your happiness on its own, and that’s okay. That is when we turn to the hidden wonders of the world in search of inspiration and passion.

It is human nature to seek out adventure and to chase after that exhilarating high that we only get to experience when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones. For each of us, that zone looks slightly different and that is part of what makes life worth living. We are each on our own separate journey through time and space. When you finally take that leap into the unknown, you will be surprised what was waiting for you out there the whole time.

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Chicago, August 2012

Over the past couple of years one of my main goals has been to constantly force myself into new and strange situations. I love to shake things up beneath my toes and to always stay in motion in search of my next breathtaking destination. If I am in one place for a certain amount of time, I begin to feel that unavoidable curiosity that always creeps back into my life. I welcome that familiar feeling with open arms and always allow myself to explore whichever direction I am feeling drawn to at that moment.

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Amsterdam, October 2015

This goal of mine has led me to some of the most unbelievable places in the world. At 23 years old, I have visited 12 countries around the globe and have no intentions of stopping there. Last October, I took off with two of my best friends for what was supposed to be a six-week backpacking trip throughout Europe and The UK. When we arrived in Barcelona, I felt those inner flames ignite once again. There was something different about that city and I simply could not bring myself to leave. I never made it to the last three destinations of our trip and I extended my stay in Spain by one month. That has to be one of my best decisions to date. I will never forget the feeling I had the day that I skipped my flight back to the states. I was surrounded by my Hostel One family and in a completely foreign city, I felt entirely at home.

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Barcelona, November 2015

My love affair with travel started at such a young age. I remember driving down to Mexico with my family and meeting all of my cousins on that side for the first time and being in utter amazement at our cultural differences. I loved listening to them speak in spanish even though I could not understand what they were saying, hearing that language buzzing all around me was vibrant and exciting. I couldn’t get enough of it.

My parents always used to take us on road trips when we were little kids. One summer we drove all the way from San Antonio, to Washington DC, to New York City, to Chicago and The Carolinas. On that road trip, I heard my first New York accent and could not understand how this guy spoke differently from me, when we were from the same country. It was remarkable to my 8-year-old self; accents are just as fascinating and mesmerizing now at 23, as they were back then.

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New York City, July 2001

I was lucky to be raised by two people who value and appreciate what traveling does for a person. When I was 16 years old, I took a trip to France with about 60 students from my high school, lead by our sophomore World History teacher (Hi Mr. Harris)! That spring break changed my outlook on life indefinitely. I was swept away by everything from the new foods I was experiencing, to the live music I was hearing in the streets, to the Parisians simply enjoying a glass of wine on their patios. I was in love with all of it. That was when I knew that while it was my first time in Europe, I would be coming back as soon as I could.

Looking back on these memories, my parents were single-handedly expanding my comfort zone. They were taking me from my familiar San Antonio setting and immersing me into various cultures and lifestyles, by doing this they were erasing the fear of the unknown from my mentality. Whenever I am getting slack from people about my constant urge to travel to far away lands, I like to teasingly blame my parents for being the ones who introduced me to this nomadic lifestyle in the first place.

vanda

Paris, March 2009

What that spring break in France made me realize was that my current existence was just this tiny dot on a map. My entire world as I knew it would never be the same because I now knew from firsthand experience that there was so much more out there to be seen, appreciated, admired and loved.

I often get asked when will I get a “real job”, when will I settle down, or when I will stop living my life like this… whatever that means. My only answer to those questions is, hopefully never. I dream of one day being a writer who can work from any destination while simultaneously expanding that so-called comfort zone of mine. The day that I cease to be the curious wanderer that I am, will be the day that I stop growing and challenging myself as a person.

Once you have shared a meal with someone from a different country, or had an eye-opening conversation with a stranger in a foreign city, you no longer generalize countries as a whole and you begin to see people as the individuals that they are. This new-found outlook changes the way you perceive the daily news. You are no longer reliant on the media outlets as your only source of information but instead you have real life experiences to base your opinions of current events off of.

It is so easy to be scared and manipulated by the media about all of the recent acts of terrorism but it is crucial to remember that the moment we all stop traveling and cease to explore the beautiful world that we live in, is when we let those guys win. When we begin to live our lives in fear of another attack, rather than pushing forward in solidarity, is when we stop living and start simply existing. When we settle into our ordinary existence and accept that as our reality, is when we no longer are rewarded with that exhilarating sensation of stepping out of our comfort zones.

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Amsterdam, October 2015

All My Love,

Valerie

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