Flying has never been a strong point for me. It is one of my biggest fears – and yet on most days it is what I chase after the most. Not the actual sense of flying (cuz that will probably never be fun for me), but travel. Up until today I thought that travel would be my life and now I’m not so sure. I fell. After all of these years of pushing myself to face my fears and coming out stronger in the end because of it – I fell. In my hotel room, miles away from home, I collapsed into a ball of panic as I physically couldn’t get myself on to another plane. What had happened to me? Up until this moment travel seemed to be getting easier. I had gone from never flying before to sometimes taking up to ten flights in one month. People would comment about what an inspiration I was for my willingness to face my fears – to become a travel writer when the very thought of travel brought me to my knees. Today, as the airplane took off out of the airport without me, all of my dreams and hopes left with it.
This weekend started off like most of the weekends in my life – a last minute decision to leave town and have an adventure. I was excited! I couldn’t wait to explore Maryland and the best part was that my mom was going to be traveling with me. She had made plans to attend a conference near Annapolis and I decided to tag along for good measure. The flight over was typical – butterflies in my stomach, moments of meditation during the flight, but overall it was thankfully uneventful and the plane got me to where I wanted to be – on an adventure!
Before heading to the hotel we decided to check out the city of Annapolis – if you’ve never been, consider it one of the cutest little fishing towns ever! The streets are lined on either side by both big brick buildings and ship filled waters. The smell of fish is noticeable from almost every street corner as the fragrance seems to billow out of restaurants and up from the decks of fishing ships that are lining the harbor. I still remember the sound of the seagulls squawking over head – as if to beg us to drop them a treat as we darted in and out of tiny shops and restaurants. This island adventure was EXACTLY why I made myself face my fears of flying – to see and experience this moment. The beauty of Annapolis, Maryland filled me up.
After spending a fun filled day in the city, my mother and I made our way over to our hotel on the next island over. I’m sure we both realized that being an island we would have to cross a bridge to get there – I don’t think either of us expected the bridge to be so big. As I looked off into the distance and as the fog shifted, a little piece of the bridge came into the light. In almost the exact same moment the car came screeching to a stop. My mom opened her door, got out and walked around to my side – “You’ve got to drive now”. I could tell that she didn’t want to let on how scared she was but I knew she really didn’t want to be crossing this bridge either. I drove across the bridge wanting to point out how beautiful the water looked below, but instead with a quiet mouth.
We spent our days learning at a women in business conference, meeting new friends and our evenings sipping wine and tasting new foods. We also made our way back and forth across that giant bridge several times – each time it got a little bit easier. So if fears and anxiety can reduce with facing your fears, why today am I in a Toyota Sienna driving across the US to get home instead of on my prepaid flight that would’ve taken 1/8 of the time? Because this time I gave into my fears and didn’t fight back. When my fears told me not to do something, I didn’t do it and that is defeat. And not only was I defeated on this one trip, but I now feel defeated in every other trip I had plans of making in the future.
Fear surrounds us all and I’ve always been a firm believer that we should not only face our fears but chase after them and they will eventually disappear. What I didn’t know is that fear fights back and sometimes we won’t be strong enough to beat it on our own. Right now I feel embarrassed and I feel like giving up – but how could I? How could I give up on something that makes me so happy for no other reason than fear?
Right now I might be driving home from Maryland to Michigan in a big ol’ Toyota Sienna at midnight, eating chocolate cookies and drinking a pop instead of taking my flight home – but it’s not over. It can’t be.
This note was handed to me at the conference by a lovely person who I hope to keep in touch with and call my friend – but it brought tears to my eyes.
. . I’m excited to read your next adventure on your blog(s). Your courage to stand in front of your fears is inspiring!