This time, the media is telling the truth. I often tell my friends to quit their relationship with the TV and Internet because it poisons their brains but this time, they’re giving real news (at least, most of them).
The past few weeks were just too much. Multiple earthquakes hit the country I grew up in. The following week, there was a ‘terror’ attack in Marawi, a city in Southern Philippines; a few days after, Resorts World, one of the biggest casinos in the capital was also ‘attacked.’ Over 30 people were killed. Most of them are young mothers.
Internationally, there’s the Manchester terror attack, the London Bridge attack, and who knows what other ‘attacks’ are happening that we don’t know of. All these happened in a span of two weeks and it’s kind of… scary.
I don’t know where my fears went. Since I started being out here, that fear went out of my system without even realising it. I still feel fear but it’s something I have control of.
That control is the fruit of the courage I tried to show to everyone even if it wasn’t really there. As time goes by, my system got used to (and believed) the “I am brave” mantra and just like that, I feared nothing.
I am currently based in Israel – the most demented, war-torn country that you can ever imagine. Oh no, it’s not like Syria up here. Life is good here!
Of course, I can’t say much for the whole country because I am only here since August and even though I traveled the whole of Israel, I can only speak for the peace and safety that illuminates Tel Aviv. Since I ‘moved’ here, I get multiple messages from people asking, “is is safe to travel in Israel?”
I vowed to myself to answer every reader question I received because the support and love that they have given to me, and this blog is not payable by money.
However, as I stare at the messages in my inbox, I go blank and ask myself: “I am here. I live here. Why would they think it’s not safe?”
I feel like I am still that reckless girl who people think would jump on anything and everything ‘dangerous’ without even thinking.
I was surprised when one of the ‘safety’ questions was even from a close friend of mine. So I asked her: “am I not really reliable in giving information about safety?”
“No, Trish, no… It’s not that.”
“Then what is it?!”
“People need a direct validation from you because those who read you (and personally know you, including me) know that you will do whatever you want. And honestly, sometimes, you don’t think. Not that it’s a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I love your spirit! If I didn’t have a 2-year old, I would be traveling the world just like you. But I hope you understand that not all people are like you. They need a guarantee.”
I still didn’t get it but for the record, I was never in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Although I really wanted to go, my mother was on the verge of losing it but calmly told me,
“Trish, no. Please. Don’t. I know you want to be Christiane Amanpour and all that over the edge life thing and we will support you. You made choices in life that are very far from mine and it’s… scary. You can do anything you want. You know that. But I also want you to think that you have family and friends who love you. We don’t want to lose you.”
For the first time in my life, I was sitting on the table across my mother and I shut up. This conversation in the Velarmino-van der Heijde House Rule Book would usually end up bad.
Women in my family are very strong and we have the attitude of claiming we are right all the time. It’s not very often that one of us will back down. But in that moment, I did back down. I just didn’t know but I felt that everything she said was true.
I used to be that girl who thinks she doesn’t have to know nor care about tomorrow. When I want something, I really have to be next to it.
That’s how I felt about being out here. I am craving for it like a drug — I have to have it. The endless change of plans always makes my whole community more confused about this ‘scattered’ life.
I grew up. I wasn’t that Miss Know It All anymore when it comes to traveling. For every time I think of saving the girls in Pakistan or those little kids growing up in the war in Syria, I just tell myself I don’t have to be out there in order to help. I need to be alive in order to help. Keeping me alive is the priority.
I’m still alive and writing this, thank God. I tamed myself from jumping into the ‘unknown’ but I still can’t help to always look on the bright side and the goodness there is in people. Every day, I get remarks about my so-called ‘poor’ decisions in life.
“Don’t go there. It’s dangerous there. You’re gonna get killed there.”
I am sick of this. I don’t reject the opinions but if it’s coming from someone who hasn’t been ‘there,’ I try to evaluate (and often speak to myself): shall we move forward? Shall we keep up with this crap?
Even though I told you I am more cautious than before, there is only one decision I followed: mine. I am really happy to have reached a point in my life where I am in control of my fear, my anger, my joy – the strong feelings I have towards traveling have put me to greater heights. I never imagined I’d be traveling over 50 countries just because I listened (and still is listening) to myself.
When was the last time you listened to yourself?
When was the last time you stayed away from other people’s opinions and said, “No. I really want to do it.” When was the last time you felt that it’s right but then you didn’t do it because the people around you said you shouldn’t?
I understand if someone close to you will say you shouldn’t go there, here, anywhere. But if you were to follow every ‘advice’ of the people around you, what are you supposed to do? Stay at home, right? You don’t want that! Nobody wants that!
I also understand that when shit goes down, you can’t pass the blame to others and say, “she told me to do it so I did it.” Following other people’s advice is so much easier because, in the end, you will have someone to blame.
A reader blamed me for saying El Salvador is safe but then she got mugged during the trip. She started hating me and saying bad stuff about me. She had a very painful and traumatic experience but then I asked myself, “why is this on me?”
Listening to myself gave me the opportunity to learn. 7+ years on the road, shit always went down, believe me! But instead of blaming myself, I take it as “okay, lesson learned. Next please!”
Wouldn’t it be nice to be in control of your decisions whether you get dragged in a shithole or not? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a great experience and say, “this is me. This is all because of me. I made all this happen.”
Best of all, wouldn’t it be nice to write your own story? Wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, you can help in proving that our fate relies on us and not on the ‘safety’ level of the places we go to?
Life is disorderly. Life does not respect the timeline we made for ourselves because times change and we should respond to that change.
No matter what we do, we trip, we cry while chopping onions, we get drunk, we fall off the bike from being drunk, we are stuck in traffic, we get into failed relationships, we fall in love over and over again, yet we end up being okay and at peace.
We might not admit it consciously but we know there are a lot of things about life we cannot control.
My heart goes to everyone around the world who were affected by these terror attacks. I am deeply saddened by what is happening right now and I know you are, too. How will you make a difference?
Whenever you are scared to travel, especially if you are a woman, think about this: you don’t need to seek validation to justify your decisions.
The only decision that matters is yours. Take a break from the news, the media, the people around you: listen to yourself.
We are very lucky to not live the life our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mothers lived – where choices for women were limited. We live in a world where we can freely write, say, and do whatever we want.
I want to remind you (especially those who haven’t traveled in a while) that you should go out there and stop being scared to travel.
If we stop doing what we want, if we keep on being scared to travel because of terrorism, prejudice, or whatever twisted issue this world is dealing with, we don’t win. THEY WIN.
Together, we are always stronger than fear. Go out there and do everything.
Are you one of those people who are scared to travel? What are your fears? What are you scared of? I would love to read your thoughts! Leave it in the comment box below and join the conversation.