My whole life I’ve been a pretty calm person. If you don’t count my irrational love for adventure and a bit of danger. Much to my mom’s terror, I’m very proud that I love doing things completely out of the norm. I will run blind full speed into crazy activities, I went Canyoning in Bali after all. When there’s the smallest amount of potential for unsafety, my eyes light up with stars. For all that adventure loving, anxiety has been my biggest fear and something I am still learning to conquer.
Travel and anxiety have been my two faces.
For all the joy I gain by boldly venturing into the unknown; there’s a side of me that I never share with people. The side that is absolutely terrified of my anxiety. I know, I know, how can a nomad have a fear of anxiety.
Let me break it down. My first battle with anxiety was my senior year of college. Classes were some of the toughest and money was scarce. All of this would have been fine but fate had other plans. Enter my anxiety trigger, instability. When my base or stable systems in life are disrupted it causes me to stress, leading to nerves, then anxiety. My base was going through a lot of change my senior year; couple that with college and you have an anxiety cocktail.
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For those unfamiliar, anxiety feels like your mind is tangled wires. When your mind is normal everything is organized. Your mind is relaxed and silent. Anxiety makes your mind feel like a 3-year-old threw a temper tantrum with their toys in your head. You can’t stop your racing thoughts, then your body manifests it with a tight chest, hives, no eating, no sleeping, and sometimes shortness of breath. Fun stuff.
It became a detriment to my life. I stayed in relationships longer than necessary or didn’t take risks I would normally take because it meant rocking my stability. That’s poison to adventure seeker.
Then I traveled the world after graduation.
Travel was the best medicine for my anxiety. When you travel nothing is stable. Everything keeps moving but, I couldn’t let anxiety or fear cripple me. If I did I wouldn’t fully experience the other side of my personality that loves adventure and new experiences. When I became a traveler it smashed my anxiety and allowed the best parts of myself to show.
It forced me to become comfortable in the uncomfortable. It drove me out of bed in the morning. Travel kept me humble and more importantly, it allowed me to realize that stability is a feeling that you create within yourself. When you travel you have to become your own comfort and stability.
Then I came home.
When I got back from traveling, the anxiety hit me even harder. My anxiety developed further into shortness of breath and a feeling I can only describe as my head wanting to explode because there were so many racing thoughts.
I was left stumped. Why does my anxiety disappear when I travel but, not at home, a place that was in essence stability. I self-medicated anxiety with travel but I never really cured the core issue. My problems didn’t disappear simply because I did. It was my wake-up call to do some soul-searching, find my core issues, and fix them.
It was my wake-up call to do some soul-searching.
Have I been cured? Far from it. I still have nights where sleep alludes me or days where I forget to eat. As a matter fact while I’m writing this I’m calming down from an anxious weekend. Travel didn’t cure my anxiety, neither did coming home. There’s no real cure for anxiety it’s all about finding techniques that help you deal and manage it. Travel is a part of my technique.
When people ask me why I love to travel it’s because it challenges me, excites me, terrifies me, amazes me, and threatens me, all at the same time. It puts your problems right in front of your face on a pedestal with bright spotlights. For me it was the catalyst for dealing with problems, I never really understood.
If you can think of something else on this Earth that does that please leave it in the comments I would love to know. It took a lot for me to share this but, I hope this helps someone. Until then you’ll catch me in the sky on my way to my next destination and big adventure.
Also, I’d love to hear your stories about anxiety and how you fixed it (or didn’t), leave a comment or tweet me!