A common response to my announcement that I was walking the Camino de Santiago was that I could get hurt or robbed. These warnings were from people who knew nothing about the Camino culture or experience. At the time I puzzled over such first reactions. Now I smile and do my thing.
It’s not uncommon for people to project their fears and anxieties onto others when a new project or experience is being approached. For the longest time, I accepted others’ doubts, sometimes to the point of canceling my plans. Not any more.
As I’ve grown into my confidence and courage, I’ve realized that I am attracted to adventure and challenges. I cherish the thrill of the unknown and testing my abilities — and sometimes my limits. Once I realized that about myself, I was able to embrace the experiences that many shunned and cautioned me about.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I take precautions so I won’t “get hurt or robbed”. You might approach your challenges and adventures differently than I do. That’s the beauty of experiences: we all tackle them in our own way using our unique gifts and styles.
For example, when I walked the Camino, I studied, researched, and trained. My walking partner trained. I wanted to be prepared for every eventuality. She wanted to have a fresh experience. We both had a great time and stayed safe. I know people who researched but didn’t train and they suffered. We all created our own Camino experience and were changed by the experience.
What I’ve learned as I’ve leaned into new experiences and watched others lean out of new experiences, is that it takes self-awareness to not project fear onto the experience or onto people approaching the experience. Fear and anxiety rule too many lives, and unnecessarily. Gavin Becker says in his book The Gift of Fear that the very fact you fear something is evidence it’s not happening. He goes on to say that what you fear is rarely what you actually fear, it’s what you link to fear.
So, what are you linking to the fear you have around new experiences? What are you linking to the fear around others having new experiences? Interesting questions, aren’t they?
The next set of questions revolves around what you can do to release that fear. What can you do to feel the fear and do it anyway? Or to feel fear for others, get past it, and wish them well?
Fear is an emotion, like love, anger, and sadness. When you feel it, sit with it, watch it, and let it pass. Emotions don’t last more than 90 seconds — if you don’t grab onto them and hold them to you or massage them. Embrace life, and let the emotions teach you what they have to teach.
Let the challenge excite you, as it does me, and see your world open up to you.