How India helped me get over my fears

On the Ganges in Varanasi, India.

I have lived many years of my life in fear. Fear was the main negotiator when I wanted to do something. About nine years ago I could give you a never ending list of fears. Good ones like the dark, camping alone, eating alone, sleeping alone, peanut butter sticking my mouth closed forever, and the big one, traveling alone.  I was holding these fears close to me like a protective shield. I'll be safe forever if I don't do THAT stuff. 

As I got older things started to happen. Not so awesome things, like a divorce. Suddenly I found myself alone a lot. I had to make a choice. Be scared all of the time and do nothing, or start living. When I found myself unbearably anxious and on medication for anxiety, I knew this was not the life I wanted to live, so I started working on those fears, like it was my job. Like my life depended on it, because it kind of did. 

Watching the evening prayers on the Ganges in Varanasi. 

Watching the evening prayers on the Ganges in Varanasi. 

Fast forward a few years, and a few abolished fears later, I was sitting on my couch googling flights to India. Because that's what I do when I'm afraid of something, and really want to do it, I pretend I'm doing it. When a flight came up for $500 round trip. I bought it. I didn't even think twice. I just did it before the negotiator could come in and talk me out of it. I was terrified of traveling alone, but damn it, I was going to freaking India! 

I have this pesky habit of doing the hardest thing I could possibly do when I want to get over something, which is partly why I picked India. I knew it was going to be intense and like nothing I had ever experienced before. I wanted something big and scary because I feel like the only way to get over this fear of traveling alone was to go big. I had worked through traveling alone in the US. I had been to NYC alone, San Francisco alone, and Chicago alone, but another country was another story. I didn't speak the language! I didn't know the rules! The fearful negotiator was creeping in and trying to talk me out of it. I mean, I would only be out $500 if I didn't go.

A terrifying tuk tuk right. Eventually I got better at this. 

A terrifying tuk tuk right. Eventually I got better at this. 

I went. I prepped. I packed. I planned. I took it one step at a time. I did all of the things that put my mind at ease. I did things in baby steps. I read books. My favorite one being Enjoying India by J D Viharini. It helped me understand the culture of India, and put my mind at ease about knowing how to deal with everything from squat toilets to how to accept flowers.

I learned that my fears were not doing me any favors. Things people warned me about never happened. I traveled to India alone and joined a tour company once I got there. My original plan was to do the whole country alone, but in a land as big and complicated as India, I'm glad I took a tour. I saw more with Intrepid than I ever could have possibly done alone. It also helped ease my fears and give me confidence knowing my next adventure to India can be all me. And there will be a next adventure. I am not done with India. 

I was so fortuante to go to India during  Holi.  

I was so fortuante to go to India during Holi. 

There is more to my India story obviously, but it's hard to say all of it in one blog post, so I'll have to spread it out over several. It took me months to write this one! There has been so many things to process from this particular adventure. I had to keep it all to myself before I could share it out loud.