I want to travel, but I’m afraid my anxiety won’t let me

Growing up, my dad was in the military, so he went everywhere within the U.S. and elsewhere. I have vague memories of being carried to a dock to go see my dad after his return from being oversees. I remember the water, and the people, but mostly the sense that there was so much else out there, so much I hadn’t seen.

That adventurous gene lurks deep within me, but I’m afraid I’ll never see any of it.

I’m a total wimp, and my anxiety makes me terrified to even leave the house some days. Some days, it’s a fight just to get to the library, or to the coffee shops I spend my afternoons writing from. I’m afraid I’ll never go the places I want to go, and while I’m trying to be okay with that, I’m also trying to fight back.

It’s a difficult balance to strike. I want to engage in self-care and be good to myself on my most anxious days, but I’m so, so afraid that I’ll never do the things on my bucket list like seeing the Aurora Borealis and visiting Freetown Christiania in Denmark. I want to be adventurous, and to be brave, like all of the women in those articles about why women should travel alone, but then I think about how dangerous it is to be a woman abroad. I want to travel, but then I think about how racism and homophobia still exists, and it’s often hard for me to feel safe. It’s hard for me as a “woke” person with an anxiety disorder to not be totally afraid to leave the house some days, and to not feel like it’s totally justified. There’s a lot to be afraid of. But I don’t want to let it stop me from living my life — it doesn’t seem fair.

Last year, my partner and I drove cross country to California to live somewhere new.

We took the northern route and saw places we’d never been, and I realized just how little I know about the country I grew up in. It was so different than what I was used to; there was so much flat, vast, emptiness, and then so many mountains and desert and sun that bites differently than it does in cities and suburbs.

During our time on the west coast, we did some traveling and adventuring. But there’s so much more I want to see. And I’m terrified of holding us back.

There were beautiful mountains near where we lived in the Inland Empire in California, but we only saw them a handful of times. If I’d been braver, bolder, we could have done and seen so much more. But we’d reach the top of the mountain and I would literally feel like I was dying. Combined with the guilt for ruining our trip, it was often too much. We’d head back down, and I’d feel like I’d failed us both.

But I’m trying to stay positive, and not be too hard on myself. I’m trying to recognize that it’s not a failure to not be able to do something. Some days, it is just too much. Other days, I’m ready. Maybe it’ll just take me longer to see what I want to see, and maybe I’ll need months to get up the courage to adventure in a new city or a new country, but I’ll do it, somehow, some way, and I have to be fair to myself. Why torture myself for not being who I want to be? What good is that?

There will always be more to see, and more to do. And if some days my version of adventure means sitting on my balcony with my kitten and watching the world pass me by, maybe that’s not so bad.

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