To some of you, I might look brave but I can assure you I am not. Not truly anyway. Every day of my life I’ve been scared of something. Or many things. And it just so happens that the things that scare the shit out of me are different than the things that scare the shit out of you. We all have different fears. Some of them we overcome and others are what actually drive our lives.
There are a few instances in my life where I changed everything. I packed my stuff and moved. It wasn’t because I was brave, but because I was actually scared. Too scared to keep going with my life as it was at the time.
That’s what happened when I moved from Québec City to Northern British Columbia. I was working as an Event Planner, something I had dreamed about for the entire three years of my studies. I wanted this so bad that I would go every single week talk to my teachers and ask if they would have heard of an opportunity by any chance? Every. Single. Week. I was determined. That’s what I wanted and I was going to get it. And it worked. Eventually, one of my teachers had actually heard about one of the event planners in the city hiring. With a good word from my teacher and my resume, I got the job. I did like the job for a while, but the company was understaffed and I realized I actually liked having a little bit of a life for myself. I wasn’t quite ready to quit yet, not before finding something else I wanted to do anyway.
So one night I saw that one of my friends had applied and gotten an 8-month contract with the Odyssey program. The program sends French-speaking Canadians in English-speaking schools, and vice versa, to promote the other language as something fun. So you become an ambassador of the other language and your job is to teach, obviously, but using games, plays, and anything creative and different than a grammar lesson. Well, at least that’s how I understood it. I had always been interested in teaching, or at least the idea of teaching so I thought this sounded like a great opportunity. The only thing was, the deadline to apply was finished. They still seemed to have some positions available so I decided I had nothing to lose and applied anyway. The program asks you to identify three provinces you would like to go work in, telling you that none of it is a guarantee. I choose Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta. By then I had been working in both languages, but I was not really confident with my English levels and I really wanted an opportunity to improve my language skills.
A few days later I received a message saying that if I wanted the job it was mine. But I needed to provide an answer pretty much now. And move in the next two weeks as the new school year was about to start.
I had a decision to make. Not the easiest of decisions of course. I felt like this was an opportunity I could not miss, so when the lady said Fort St. John, I answered: ”that’s great!” I had no clue whatsoever where that even was. A quick Google search showed me it was located about 1300km North of Vancouver. And about the same from Whitehorse. To be honest this is when I realized how big of a country Canada was!
I was in a relationship with Seb at the time, and while I knew he was needing a change in his career as well, I was not sure he would actually be ready to follow me across the country. But he did. So within two weeks, we had to sublet our apartment, pack our stuff, quit our jobs and prepare an awesome 5000 km road trip.
Now looking back I know it looks like I was brave, but at the time, I just needed a drastic change in my life. The need for change was much stronger than the fear of feeling stuck in a life I no longer liked. And it turned out to be a great experience. So good in fact that even though the original contract was for only one school year, I ended up staying in Fort St. John for almost 5 years.
Next big fear of my life
Four years later, with a house, a dog and a network of friends, I once again felt like I was getting too comfortable. But mostly I got scared again. I had always had that dream of travelling the world for a long time. I had been to Europe a few times, and I knew that not only I wanted to see the world, but I needed it.
I was in my mid-twenties when I found a paper I had written when I was much much younger. My dream back then was to have gone on a round-the-world tour before I turned 25. It was something that had always been on my mind, but I had no idea how to make it a reality. Since that 25-year-old deadline was already gone by then, I decided then that I would need to at least start my round-the-world tour before I turned 30. Or else I would never do it.
It was a scary thought to think of how to make this a reality. I was fast approaching my thirties and I needed to find a way to make money, and keep it aside instead of buying shoes. I had to think a lot about this one. I needed to see if it was still something I wanted to do and if so, how to actually make it work. I quickly determined it was still very much a dream of mine. But it was very scary to think I would have to quit everything and everybody once again. I quickly realized however that staying in my life as it was at the moment was even scarier. Putting my life-dream aside was not really a possibility. The fear of regret was stronger than my fear of trying. So I worked a lot, stopped buying shoes and clothes and instead started selling and donating my stuff. The fear of getting rid of everything, without actually knowing if we were going to be able to sell the house, or without knowing if I would actually like travelling was still less scary than the thoughts of not trying.
Now a few years later, I couldn’t be happier that I decided to try it out. I was scared to give it a shot, and I had many scary moments during the actual travel as well. But looking back, it was definitely scarier to put my dream aside and expect to live my life with regrets at only 20-something.
As I mentioned earlier, I am not brave. Every day I am scared about something. Sometimes I scared I’m going to be sick because of that weird tasting meal I had. Other times, I am scared to cross the street as it looks like the cars will run me over (which is when I usually find an elderly person to cross the street next to). And sometimes I am scared to settle for a comfortable life.
So when I decided to move to Scotland about a year ago it wasn’t because I was brave. It was because staying was even scarier. Fear is what drives most of my decisions. Not courage. When I decided to join the crew of Infinity Expeditions even though I didn’t know how to sail, or even if I was seasick, I choose to send the email anyway because the slight chance of missing such a once in a lifetime opportunity was even scarier.
I still don’t know what I’ll be doing next, but soon I’ll find what scares me the most: settle for a while here in Canada, or packing my stuff and leave again for the unknown.
Do you make your decisions based on fears? If so, which fear drives your decisions?