Hi friends, I've missed you. I didn't plan on posting until the new year, but I'm currently sitting in a lodge on Bear Mountain, waiting for my friends to stop snowboarding, and I've missed the comfort of blogging. My thoughts have felt so scattered since I've stopped assembling them in writing;my worldview is getting hazier by the minute.
I am no longer in Hawaii but I'm not home either. My sister has been in California for weeks and instead of flying back to Orlando, I decided to fly out to San Diego and spend New Years here with her and a bunch of friends (old and new).
So, Hawaii! It was beautiful, of course, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. I grew up afraid of a lot of things - people included. I didn't go on a rollercoaster until I was in my teens; I would ask myself: "do you mind dying on this ride?" and as the answer was always no, I never went on. Everything slightly frightening would end in death, apparently. I was scared of new people too; I guess I was terrified of the unknown. Unknown people and experiences represented some kind of death, probably the death of my comfort zone, and my younger self was not ready. Perhaps this is why my sister grew up to be a professional extreme sports athlete and I grew up to be a reader of books.
I thought I'd overcome most of that fear. In the first few days of Hawaii, I felt fearless. I was down to try surf lessons (no longer afraid of being bad at stuff!), to go hiking (no longer afraid of exploring the unknown!) and I signed up to cycle down a volcano (no longer afraid of death by freak accident!). But then I was actually on the bicycle, barreling down a freakin' volcano at a million miles an hour, approaching curves in the road in which I was completely blind to oncoming traffic, and I realized that I am still very, very afraid...of some things.
The body is physically limited by fear. There is a reason why some people grow up to excel at extreme sports and some don't. There is a reason why my friends are currently snowboarding down a mountain and I am quietly blogging in the lodge. Fear and our ability to overcome it is a deciding factor in the paths our lives take.
It's awfully limiting to be afraid of everything, but that doesn't mean all fears need be overcome.
I'm not going to hurl myself down a mountain without lessons because after twenty-two years in my body, I understand how my fear of getting hurt translates into hurting myself. It makes me awkward, each limb engaged in a civil war that forbids communication with other limbs, and much more likely to make mistakes that result in broken bones. It's not that my friends don't have fears but the rewards for them are greater. They WANT to be hurtling down a snowy mountain - for them, this is part of their reason for living. The risks are worth it. And although I doubt they'd answer the question "do you mind dying doing this?" with a "nope!", this is a definition of living for them. (Also, for them, that's a little less in the realm of possibility than it is for me and my terrified limbs.)
Each of us has a different definition of what constitutes a good life, and although it can be scary, our fulfillment lies in overcoming the fears that stop us from living those lives.
This trip - as traveling often does - has made me think about my life, what direction I want to go in, and what fears I need to overcome.
As my graduation date grows closer, my fear increases. Despite my six years in Orlando, I am still not an American citizen, and my student visa requires me either find a company who will employ me for a year or I have to leave. So, on top of the normal "what am I going to do with my life?" fear and the "there are no jobs!" fear is the very real worry that I'll have to return to a country I no longer consider home immediately upon graduation. Coupled with the desire to be safe, to be settled, is the desire to travel the entire world - to be unsure, to be unsettled.
Drastic change is scary. To choose one path is to not choose another. That's scary too. It comes down to deciding what a good life is to you and mustering the bravery to overcome necessary fears. For me, as I've realized, a good life means having the freedom to leave. I want to go everywhere; I want to explore the world without ties to any particular place. Will I want this forever? I couldn't possibly know, but I do know that it's what I want more than anything else. More than I want a relationship, more than I want a job, more than I want security: I want to be a free bird.
If I was to stay in America, accepting whatever job I could, JUST because I was afraid of the unknown, I would never give myself the opportunity to live the life I most desire. Although I won't be morphing into an extreme athlete anytime soon, I will be someone who sells all their things, packs up their bags, and buys a plane ticket because the risks are worth it for me.
What are the fears you need to overcome?
P.S. I will be getting a snowboard lesson tomorrow because obviously I can't discount something from being included from the Reasons For Living list until I've tried it (in the safest way possible).
P.P.S I'll do a post with photos of Hawaii and California when I return home!