When it comes to facing your fears, sometimes you have to get creative. A clear-cut example of someone who’s managed to outsmart the very thing that terrifies her is Jacqui Kennedy, the woman who runs the Agoraphobic Traveller Instagram account. Typically, traveling is one of the last activities you’d associate with someone who has agoraphobia, which Psychology Today defines as a “fear of any place where escape may be difficult, including large open spaces or crowds, as well as various means of travel.”
In Kennedy’s case, her unique approach to dealing with the condition has sparked inspiring conversations around agoraphobia and how those who live with the restrictive, anxiety-inducing disorder can better cope.
Kennedy — a New Zealander who lives in London — takes screenshots of Google Street View to treat herself to a mental escape that allows her to satisfy her travel itch without risking a panic attack, which can be brought on by physically leaving her home.
After she began collecting snapshots in 2015, Kennedy’s sister encouraged her to continue with her hobby. Today, Agoraphobic Traveller is a collection of street scenes Kennedy curated based on her emotional response to each photo.
As she told National Geographic, the act of choosing photos that resonate with her helped Kennedy to hone a unique world perspective.
“After exploring the world for a while, I started to realize that the Google Street View camera was helping me discover and develop a certain aesthetic and point of view, as well as giving me the ability to curate the world as I see it.”
Kennedy’s Instagram features photos from places like New Mexico, Peru, Canada and everywhere in between. She intentionally curates images that don’t usually include lots of people, instead opting to highlight random structures, animals, and the landscape.
To date, Kennedy has snapped over 27,000 screenshots, a far cry from the 200 photos on her Instagram page. But still, her perusal of Google Street View represents a sort of freedom from the isolation and loneliness agoraphobics experience.
“It’s connected me with so many other people that have agoraphobia, so I don’t feel so alone with it,” Kennedy told National Geographic. “It does make me what to travel more. It makes me want to face my fears.”